Where Writers GrowGAMBIER, Ohio (July 20, 2007) The writing tradition at Kenyon is nurtured in notebooks.
In the Kenyon Review Young Writers Program, pen is put to paper, and the computer lab comes later. The instrument that has served the writer as the piano has served the composer comes into prominent play during two-week sessions that have attracted 120 teenagers from around the country to the campus this summer.
"We really insist they carry a notebook and they write in longhand," said Anna Duke Reach, the Kenyon Review director of summer programs and special events. "It's really important to keep a document, a hard copy ... that first draft in the notebook."
The starts and stops of the writing process, the hard work and revision, and the importance of sharing and collaboration are the sturdy blocks on which the program is built. "It's inherent in the philosophy that writing isn't something that just comes down to you and turns on a light bulb in your mind," Reach said.
The program created by Kenyon Review Editor David Lynn is divided into two sessions, each with 60 high school students formed into 12-person workshops and guided by instructors. The program becomes a first taste of college life, through the competitive application process (with essay, transcript, and teacher recommendation), to the classroom setting in Ascension Hall, to residence-hall life with the College's student resident advisers.
The intense writing experience envelops a range of genres, including poetry, screenwriting, and short fiction. Students read their work aloud, and critiques from peers are mixed with instructors' observations.
"It gives them a gift that not many writers have--a gift of community," Reach said. "It gives them a first confidence in their own abilities and in their writing."
And the exposure to Kenyon leads some to pursue admission to the College, including 15 incoming students this year.
Amber Evans, a 17-year-old rising senior at
"I'm normally into poetry," Amber said. "But coming here, it kind of expands your outlook on writing and different kinds of writing." A presentation by
The scholarship pool was expanded last year with a $100,000 grant from the Surdna Foundation, based in
"It's part of the community's mission to keep the flame of literature alive," Reach said. "To do that, we want to make sure students are engaged in creative-writing opportunities. We emphasize critical thinking and reading as well as writing."