April 23, 2020
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The next set of Kenyon Review Fellows features a novelist raised in India, a poet and game designer from Chicago and a poet who studied at the Young Writers summer workshop in Gambier as a high schooler.
This group also has stronger financial support because donors have met half of the Review’s goal to raise $5 million in endowed funding for the program.
“We have Fellows who are doing some of their best writing in Gambier and are engaging Kenyon students,” said one of the donors, Matt Winkler ’77 H’00 P’13. “The Fellows seemed a logical and essential part of the Review. The challenge is, how do you pay for it? I am honored to support David Lynn’s vision.”
Several years ago, David Lynn ’76 P’14, the David F. Banks Editor of the Kenyon Review, began this two-year post-graduate post for emerging authors. In exchange for a stipend, Fellows teach one Kenyon class per semester, assist with projects at the Review and work on their own writing project. Lynn said it’s an update of 1950s fellowships the Review granted to blossoming writers such as Flannery O’Connor and W.S. Merwin.
The next Fellows will be:
“This is a very valuable re-establishment of a Kenyon tradition, and I’m delighted to be a part of that,” said James P. Finn ’70, who supported the renovation of Finn House in 2009 so the Review would have its own home and who has contributed to the Fellows endowment. “The Fellows are a real plus to the College.”
The Review launched in 1939, but financial troubles halted publication in the 1970s and threatened to shut the literary journal again in the mid-1990s. The solution was to spin the Review into a non-profit organization with its own governing board and income streams. Grace Keefe Huebscher ’82 brought her financial expertise to the Review’s board in 1998 and has remained for two decades.
“In the beginning, I was focused on the financial view of the Review, not so much the creative. As it got more stable financially, the programs began to grow, and I found that I really liked being exposed to that creative community,” said Huebscher, who is also supporting the Fellows program. “It was a reprieve for me from my professional work in banking. I found out that I was restored by being around the creative community of the Review.”
Finn agreed with Huebscher. He regularly visits the students and staff working in Finn House, named for his parents. “Many people are supporting the Kenyon Review. I’m very lucky to be one of them. It’s very interesting to be involved with such a committed group of people.”
The first group of emerging authors in Lynn’s Fellows program came to Gambier in 2012. Alva Greenberg ’74 P’02 ’04 contributed to the funding that made that first group possible.
“My gift is based on my admiration for David Lynn and the wonderful staff of the Review,” Greenberg said. “The Fellows program is the future of the Review and of literature. It is there to foster writing and the teaching of writing. And the venue for that work matters.”
The Fellows bring new and diverse viewpoints to the literary journal and to Kenyon classrooms. The two writers in the 2016-18 group, Jaquira Diaz and Margaree Little, created a microsite on kenyonreview.org called “Resistance, Change, Survival” to consider how writing can engage with current political and social issues.
“The more diverse we can be in our ambition, the more accomplished we’re going to be,” Winkler said. “Today, this is what is driving the Review and Kenyon.”
“The Fellows have brought a huge amount of diversity to Kenyon. And that’s great because that is the way the world is going. It has really opened up [Kenyon] to people who would not normally think about a small liberal arts college,” Huebscher added.
“Before this, the Review was a bit stodgy and elitist. A lot of my fellow alumni from the ’80s still have that view of it. But I’m talking to them all the time about it and trying to get the word out. It’s so much more now than people realize.”