Pursuing PoetryGAMBIER, Ohio (May 8, 2012)
The Kenyon Review has named poets Elizabeth Lindsey Rogers and Natalie Shapero as fellows who will teach at Kenyon College and work on writing projects during their two-year appointments.
David Lynn, editor of the Kenyon Review and professor of English at Kenyon, described the fellowship program as the most important initiative by the international journal in a generation. The fellowships are a new iteration of a Kenyon Review tradition that dates to the 1950s and included then-aspiring writers Flannery O'Connor and W.S. Merwin among others.
The program, Lynn said, identifies and supports "exceptionally talented younger writers," helping to launch them into the literary world. "In its new structure, our first two, wonderful authors will reside in Gambier for two years in which to work on their next significant writing projects, teach one course per year for the English department while being mentored by Kenyon faculty, and receive editorial and production experience with the Kenyon Review."
Rogers is a lecturer in the English Department at Cornell University, where she earned a master's in fine arts. She earned a bachelor's degree in creative writing and dance at Oberlin College, where she became an Oberlin Shansi fellow, teaching English and dance at an agricultural university in rural China. Her poems have appeared in Field, Agni Online, Seneca Review, Comstock Review, Crazyhorse, Pool, and on Poetry Daily, among others. Her first book of poetry will be published by the University of Arkansas Press in 2013.
Her writing is much connected to place, Rogers said, and as she finished her first manuscript she looked for a new place to inspire her next. "The fellowship will certainly give the space and time to write," Rogers said. "But more than that, I was drawn to Kenyon because the liberal arts setting is one that encourages conversation, innovation, and collaboration, all of which are inherent to my own creative process, as well as my philosophy as a teacher.
"I've also jumped at this chance to work with students at a small liberal arts college. The students at Kenyon, from what I can see, are invested in their work, open-minded, and curious. In addition, the Kenyon Review is one of the very finest literary magazines in this country."
Shapero is a fellow in First Amendment litigation and civil rights advocacy with Americans United for Separation of Church and State, based in Washington D.C. She earned a master's in fine arts in poetry at the Ohio State University, a law degree at the University of Chicago, and a bachelor's in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University. Her poetry has been published in several journals and anthologies including the Kenyon Review, Poetry, The Believer, FIELD, and Best New Poets 2006. She was a Peter Taylor Fellow in the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop.
As a Kenyon Review fellow, she plans to produce poems for a book that centers on the themes of silence and dissent. Kenyon is a "tremendous place to be a writer," Shapero said. "And I've always really admired the Kenyon Review and the people who run it. I'm also looking forward to working with Kenyon students, whom I've found to be consistently impressive, inventive and engaged. There is really nothing I would rather be doing for the next two years."