Since his early days as a self-proclaimed "little liar," Carlos Price-Sanchez has always liked telling stories.
A poet and a rising high school senior from Wayne, Pa., Price-Sanchez was drawn by that passion to the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop, where he hopes to get "criticism from thoughtful people" and meet other aspiring writers in the high school ranks. Similar desires attracted 200 students from 42 states and several countries to the Kenyon campus for one of the workshop's two two-week sessions this summer.
Young Writers has grown both in size and stature since David Lynn '76, Kenyon Review editor-in-chief and Kenyon professor of English, launched it 22 years ago with just 12 students. One of the country's most selective high school writing programs, Young Writers serves as an intensive, creative community for those who love the craft. "It's rare in high school anymore that students have an opportunity to write creatively," said Anna Duke Reach, director of programs for the Kenyon Review. "There's so much emphasis on this five-paragraph essay ... that this is a real joy for so many of them who love to write."
Tory Weber '02, associate director of programs and administrator of Kenyon Review fellowships, participated in Young Writers as a high school student and found she couldn't stay away. "I started assisting ... and came back every summer after I graduated (from the program) to help," Weber said. "Then, at some point, I went over to the teaching side and taught in the workshops. And, then, two years ago I came back to Gambier to work full time."
Though the workshop itself is a one-time experience, many program alumni continue to share work with their Young Writers peers years later. "It's very intensive, personal attention," Reach said. "Everybody gets to read around the table for every assignment, so they get to know each other really quickly through story and build really great friendships."
The chance to broaden her creative horizons was another of the workshop qualities that appealed to Jude Marx, a rising senior from Albuquerque, N.M. The program is "particularly appealing because you could explore lots of different genres of writing," said Marx, who started a literary magazine at her school and is on a slam poetry team. "I'm really anxious to begin exploring narratives more and other forms of writing because I think that will be good for me as a writer and as a poet."
Noa Gur-Arie, a rising junior from Chevy Chase, Md., has set goals for her Young Writers experience as well. "I have a tendency to use too many (words) and not let them stand on their own," Gur-Arie said. "I'm really looking forward to working with other people to write more concisely and use language more effectively to say what I want to say." Gur-Arie has lived in Russia and Morocco and anticipates that her writing "will always have an international aspect to it."
Gur-Arie, Price-Sanchez and Marx all expect that their future lives will include writing in some capacity. "I know any career I want to pursue would have to involve writing," Gur-Arie said. "It's something I'll do for my entire life regardless of whether it's what I'm paid for." Price-Sanchez, on the other hand, hopes to make writing a career. "I know as a poet I'm setting myself up for a lot of Ramen dinners but ... I can't see myself not writing now that I've started and gotten serious about it."