Zeal For WritingGAMBIER, Ohio (July 20, 2011)
High school writers have overtaken Ascension Hall.
Students in the Nu Phi Kappa reading room describe an orange in minute detail for twenty minutes. Two floors down, students in the "Gambier Noir" class write elegant, haunting crime stories. A room that normally houses philosophy or French literature courses is now home to "The Six-Hour Novel," a class that pushes students to complete a novel in three days. Workshop challenges like these help the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop earn its nickname as "writing boot camp."
The annual summer program brings high school students to campus for two weeks of intensive creative writing workshops. Students attend daily sessions (classes are capped at twelve students) and respond to prompts based on readings or other exercises. This summer, Gambier will host two sessions for a total of 190 high school writers from across the globe.
Though many students learn about the program through their college searches, the program's atmosphere is collegial. In a time when the college admissions process is increasingly difficult, the Young Writers Workshop offers students a chance to experience college without pressure. Andrew Hinkley, a rising senior from Rochester, New York, said one of the most rewarding aspects of the program is to be around other students passionate about writing. "I love being with others who want what I want and understand why I love to write," Hinkley said. "Being here has helped me eliminate my fears about pursuing writing."
The Workshop also helps students understand what life in a rural college setting entails. Elizabeth R. Forman '73, senior associate director of admissions and a Young Writers instructor, said the program helps demystify life at college. "This is a good chance for students to see where classroom and non-classroom environments intersect," Forman said. "I think [this program] helps challenge their typical concept of a learning setting."
Kenyon welcomes the opportunity to host these students, Forman said. "This is one of the most selective programs of its kind, so we're excited to have the chance to meet some of the country's best students," she said.
Ultimately, the experience of Young Writers leads many students to consider enrolling at Kenyon. "If being a student at Kenyon is anything like being at Young Writers, I can't wait to come back," Hinkley said. "I can't imagine another college I'd rather attend."
By Joumana Khatib '13