KR BlogWriting

You and I Lunch Special

This musing is the work of the poet Heather Christle. –TM

There exist some easily satirized standard-issue poetry workshop comments:

Have you thought about your line breaks?
I’m not sure if you’ve earned this ending.

My favorite, however, is:

I wonder what would happen if you took out the “I.”

Perhaps, probably, people make this suggestion with the idea that one ought to resist representing an artificially stable and whole self. Sing with me:

You put your whole self in. (Boo!)
You take your whole self out. (Yea!)

* * * * *

I am a big apostrophe nut. The more “you” I hear, the happier I become. And “you” can have so many people in it! And you, and you, and you were there“

If “you” can be so strange and various, why not “I”?

* * * * *

I was thinking this morning and then a metaphor happened.

The “I” of the fortune cookie.

Who is that wise “I”? (I thought of this reading Julia Cohen’s blog, in which she discusses receiving the fortune You are the apple of my eye. I! You! They are all in there!) But really, who is the “I”? The writer of the fortune cookie? The worker who stuffs the message inside? The waiter who brings you the cookie? The person to your left? No, to your right!

* * * * *

For years, when my family went out to eat Chinese food, my father loved to crack open his cookie, peer at his fortune, look puzzled, and then say, Help! I am a prisoner in a fortune cookie factory. He did not invent this joke; it’s been around for a very long time. I realized that when I read Frank O’Hara’s “Lines for Fortune Cookies,” which includes “You are a prisoner in a croissant factory and you love it.”

It’s a fantastic poem, and I keep threatening to actually put these lines where they belong, if only I were any good at baking. For now I’ll just give you a smattering:

“Your first volume of poetry will be published as soon as you finish it.”

“A few dance lessons with James Waring and who knows? Maybe something will happen.”

“That’s not a run in your stocking, it’s a hand on your leg.”

“You eat meat. Why do you eat meat?”

and then there is my favorite, which seems an appropriate ending (for this post, not the poem):

“In the beginning there was YOU–there will always be YOU, I guess.”

Heather Christle’s poems have appeared in Octopus, LIT, and pilot magazine. Others may soon be found in Third Coast & Verse. She lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.

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.