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KR Writers Workshop, Pt. 2

The second installment in this series by Kirsten Ogden.

Part Two: In which the blogger takes a little detour form the specifics of Rosanna Warren’s class and talks a bit about the people she met at the Workshop.

One of the luxuries of coming to the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop is not just that I know I’ll leave there with the first drafts of at least six new pieces of writing, but that I’ll have met people who become part of my journey into becoming a writer. (Does one ever arrive?) To wit:

Ron Carlson. I think we bonded quite a bit over crossword puzzles and one-page plays. No, I doubt he’ll remember my name years down the road, other than “that funny girl,” but we did have a series of frequently hilarious discussions about the possibility of writing one-page plays. Over drinks at the Village Inn in downtown Gambier (ha!) on one particular evening, myself, Ron Carlson, and several other workshop participants laughed the night away talking about possible plots. One of my favorite Ron Carlson bids: two guys inside a Trojan Horse, one guy says to the other “Hey, would you fall for this?” Carlson swore he had written these plays already, and I aimed to call his bluff. I took the rest of the evening and wrote a one-page play based on The Price is Right, called “Plinko!” and had my roommate, who was in his workshop, hand-deliver this future Pulitzer-Prize winning masterpiece to Carlson. After workshops, she presented me with about eight sheets of paper. The first said “The Many Plays of Ron Carlson.” Did he rush home and write them the evening prior? Had he really already written the play about two guys sitting in the Trojan Horse? I’ll never know, but those plays were damn funny.

Nancy Zafris. She totally intimidates me. Why? Everyone who is in her class always looks absolutely exhausted, with bags under their eyes and sorrowful stories about scathing critiques in class. But unanimously, they love it. They’re her true, die-hard fans–real fans who travel all the way here each summer to take her workshop. Each day I’d see her walk past; she smiled and waved, and I waved back–and then one morning in line for coffee at the Middle Ground Coffee Shop, she turns to me and says “Fourth year, right?” And I nod, and she says, “So, why haven’t you taken my workshop yet?” Gulp.

Kirsten Ogden is a former Kenyon Review Peter Taylor Fellow in Poetry and a summer instructor for the Kenyon Review Young Writers Program. She directs the writing program at the University of La Verne in Los Angeles, California where she also serves as an Area Coordinator for the California Poets in the Schools and edits the literary journal Prism Review.

About the Program

The Kenyon Review Associates Program provides Kenyon students with valuable experience in literary editing, publishing, and programming. KR Associates work closely with Kenyon Review staff, gaining valuable experience in a number of editing, publishing, and programming areas including manuscript evaluation, publicity and marketing, copy editing, developing web site and social media content, outreach programming, event planning and promotion, and other creative and editorial projects

KR Associates attend regular seminars conducted by Kenyon Review editorial staff, visiting readers, and publishing industry professionals. These seminars cover a wide range of topics including editorial philosophy, evaluation of submissions, print and electronic production, marketing, and design.

KR Associates enjoy also enjoy exclusive access to visiting writers and speakers, free issues of The Kenyon Review, and valuable work experience and employment references.

This program is made possible through an initiative of the Kenyon Review, part of the mission of which is to contribute to the enrichment of the academic, cultural, and artistic life of the Kenyon College community.

Requirements and Expectations

  • Submission Evaluation: All Associates are required to read and evaluate eight Kenyon Review submissions per week. Associates who are not able to complete their weekly submission assignments for more than two weeks in a row may not be allowed to continue in the program.
  • Trainings and Seminars: In-person attendance is mandatory at all trainings and seminars. We plan on scheduling six to eight seminars per semester, and most will take place on Thursdays during common hour.
  • Literary Engagement: Associates are expected to participate in literary events on campus and throughout the local community.

Application Details

The application deadline for the 2023-24 program has passed. Applications for the 2024-25 program will open in the fall of 2024. Please check back then for more details.

Questions? Please contact Tory Weber for more information.