June 21, 2009KR BlogKR

All We Have Is Where We’re From

The 2009 Kenyon Review Writers Workshop started yesterday (With a bang, not a whimper! They let Jay and me drive a golf cart!) I’m reminded of a few things:

1.) All good things begin with a confession. Here’s one: chances are good I’ve forgotten your name already. When Genesis was being workshopped, they edited out the part where Adam used nametags for all the animals Yahweh paraded before him–that detail didn’t carry enough emotional freight, you know? Show, don’t tell. But it’s true: viz., a cardinal’s breast. Nametags are an act of God. (I promise I’ll know names by Monday!)

2.) Workshops that witch doctor the manuscript you brought with you are completely different than what happens here. This experience is about writing something new here, now. You’ve got to bring something to the idea shop. None of this works unless the writer sweats for it. We just keep the shop stocked. Assembly is an art act. The instructions are the body played across a specific moment. There’s no magic to the process…

3.) ….but there is magic to the place. It never ceases to amaze me how many people are smitten by Gambier when they see it for the first time. Such a cupid, this place. Tigerlilies like a sundress. Oak gecko’d trees. Fireflies like Apollo’s boy hucking the stars into the sky at night, or light that wants to be low among us….

4.) In a room full of strangers, all we have is where we are from. Until the stranger part imitates intimacy, and then becomes intimacy. I always forget this.

5.) Carl Phillips‘ class used “90 North” by Randall Jarrell today. Do you know it? I think it may be the most devastating poem I know. I wish I had been in that workshop. But usually I wish I had been in each of the workshops, by the end.

6.) For levity’s sake–try adding “like a bear to its floe” after, oh, anything. I sang like a bear to its floe. I dreamt of bees like a bear to its floe.

7.) The Peter Taylor Fellows will read tonight. I’m excited–this year they are Jennifer Grotz, Amos Magliocco, Jason Sack, Jason Gray, Nicola Dixon, Derek Askey and Jessica Handler. It’s okay to be a little jealous like a bear to its floe.

8.) Nancy Zafris told me a story about first lines, and read an excerpt from a children’s primer that teaches us to dress up our prose in adjectives. Let’s say this: most adjectives are like sweaty silk shirts. Beware the ??ber-blinged sentence. The wages of sin!

9.) Deborah Digges‘ absence is palpable–she was supposed to teach here this summer before her untimely passing. It has sent me back through her books. There’s a poem at the end of Late in the Millenium called “Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species.” It destroyed me when I found it last night–utterly, wholly, transcendent. A taxonomy of the ecstatic possible. Find it!

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.