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A Complete Guide To The Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

two unidentified person shaking hands

A Complete Guide To The Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop

For every high school student who has experienced the thrill of a story flowing through their pen or the excitement of ideas coming to life on paper, there is a place where these moments are part of a collective adventure. The Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop is that place, making writing into a lively, shared experience.

What is the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop?

The Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop is a specialized creative writing program for passionate high school students aged 16-18. Held at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, it is backed by the Kenyon Review, one of America’s leading literary magazines.

The workshop typically features two-week sessions each summer, offering an intense, collaborative environment where students can delve into various writing genres, including poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. The workshops are also now available through online classes. Led by instructors and Kenyon College faculty, they promote skill development through practical workshops, peer reviews, and readings.

Participants in the program get the opportunity to work on their writing skills, receive feedback from peers and instructors, and become part of a community of young writers. The experience is also residential, giving students a taste of college life on the Kenyon College campus. This hands-on experience aims to inspire young writers to develop their voice and craft.

How does the workshop work?

The Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshops, organized by the literary journal at Kenyon College, welcomes high school students worldwide to join a thriving literary community. Here, you can explore creative writing, challenge yourself, and discover new abilities while connecting with other young writers who share your passion.

Three students walking in the campus.

The program offers three distinct workshop formats:

  • residential summer workshops
  • online summer workshops
  • winter online workshops

Young Writers Summer Residential Workshop

The Young Writers Summer Residential Workshop at Kenyon College offers a two-week program for high school students curious and eager to hone their creative and critical writing skills. It’s an ideal environment to develop as a writer and thinker.

At the workshop, you’ll get into the writing experience with 12-14 fellow students for five hours each day, exploring all genres through freewriting, working on assignments, and discussing both readings and each other’s work.

Beyond the regular sessions, you can also join specialized genre sessions. These mini-workshops focus on specific genres or craft elements, allowing you to focus intensively on an area of interest under the guidance of different instructors. The topics for these sessions vary, ensuring there’s always something new to spark your creativity.

Set at the Kenyon College campus, known for its rich literary tradition and home to the prestigious Kenyon Review, this residential program gives you a taste of college life. You’ll stay in dorms, write in college classrooms, eat in Peirce Dining Hall, and have free time to explore the charming Village of Gambier and the Lowry Athletic Center facilities. It’s a fantastic way to experience college life while focusing on your writing and creativity.

Important Dates

  • Session 1:  June 23 – July 6, 2024
  • Session 2: July 14-27, 2024
  • Application Deadline: March 1, 2024

Eligibility

Here’s what you need to know about eligibility for the Young Writers Summer Residential Workshop:

  • You should be between the ages of 16-18 at the time of the program.
  • Participants are rising juniors and seniors. However, you’re welcome to apply if you’ve just graduated high school before the program starts.
  • Sophomores who will be 16 after the program dates are recommended to hold off applying until the next year
  • International Students and previous online workshop participants can also participate.

Program Cost

The total program cost is $2,575, which includes tuition, accommodation, all meals, and activities. Please note that travel costs are not included. Upon acceptance, you’ll need to secure your spot with a $500 non-refundable deposit and submit your enrollment forms by April 5th. The remaining balance must be paid by May 20th. The application is free.

They also offer need-based financial aid to help families manage the program costs. Aid is granted on a case-by-case basis, often meeting the amount requested. Simply fill out the “Financial Aid” section in the online application to apply for aid.

Application Materials

If you met all of the eligibility requirements, here are what you’ll need to apply:

  • Completed online application form
  • 300-word personal statement
  • high school transcript (it can be official or unofficial)
  • Letter of recommendation
  • financial aid information (this is optional)

Young Writers Summer Online Workshops

The Young Writers Summer Online Workshops provide a space for young writers like you to hone your skills, discover new strengths, and connect with fellow writing enthusiasts. In these online sessions, you’ll have the opportunity to explore creative ideas, create new stories, poems, and essays, and discuss the writing process with instructors and other participants.

a female student doing self-study

The week-long workshops are done daily via live Zoom sessions. You can choose from the afternoon sessions, from 12:30 to 4:00 p.m. ET, or the evening sessions, from 7:30 to 11:00 p.m. ET. Both options cover a wide range of genres.

You’ll join 12-14 students and an instructor for three and a half hours of synchronous daily sessions. These sessions are dedicated to freewriting, responding to prompts and assignments, discussing readings, and sharing and critiquing each other’s work.

A unique feature of these workshops is that everyone, including instructors, writes and shares their work daily. The environment is supportive and non-judgmental, with no grades given. Instead of formal evaluations, instructors provide feedback emphasizing each writer’s strengths and potential, guiding you toward effective revisions and improvements in your writing.

Each day also features special events from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. ET, including readings by guest writers, craft discussions, participant showcases, and casual socials designed to enrich your workshop experience.

Important Dates

  • Online Workshops: June 16–21, 2024
  • Application Deadline: April 15, 2024

Eligibility

Here’s what you need to know about eligibility for the Young Writers Summer Online Workshop:

  • You should be between the ages of 16-18 at the time of the program.
  • Participants are rising juniors and seniors. However, you’re welcome to apply if you’ve just graduated high school before the program starts.
  • Sophomores who will be 16 after the program dates are recommended to hold off applying until the next year
  • International Students and previous online workshop participants can also participate.

Program Cost

The Summer Online Workshop costs $995, covering both the tuition and all related activities. Accepted students are required to pay the full tuition and submit their enrollment forms by May 15 to secure their spot in the program.

Financial aid is also extended on a case-to-case basis.

Application Materials

If you met all of the eligibility requirements, here are what you’ll need to apply:

  • completed online application form
  • 300-word personal statement
  • high school transcript (it can be official or unofficial)

Young Writers Winter Online Workshops

The workshops provide a supportive environment to develop your writing skills, discover new strengths, and connect with others who share your passion for writing.

During these six-week sessions, you’ll focus on a specific genre, craft element, or theme, honing your skills, finding your unique voice, and engaging in discussions about the writing process with instructors and peers.

Female student smiling at the camera.

Workshops are every Saturday, with two available slots: 1:00-3:30 p.m. EST or 7:00-9:30 p.m. EST. Each workshop has a unique focus, detailed in the descriptions below. While you can apply for multiple workshops, you can only participate in one. Besides the live sessions, there are optional readings and short assignments to complete outside of workshop hours, providing additional opportunities to refine your skills.

Afternoon Workshops Description
Raising Your Voice with Chukwuma Ndulue This workshop focuses on developing your creative voice, exploring the effects of your artistic choices and the untapped potential in you writing. You will learn to embrace uncertainty and see how the idea of “perhaps” can enrich and deepen your work.
Situationship With The Muse with Christopher Blackman This workshop focuses on equipping young writers with practical strategies to find inspiration. You will use free writes, prompts, and explore techniques like Oulipo, (Soma)tic Poetry Exercises, and Oblique Strategies to bypass your internal editors and inspire creativity. Participants will leave with a set of useful prompts to keep them inspired in the future.
Translating Memory with Julia Grawemeyer In this workshop, students will learn literary techniques to write effectively and succinctly about major life events as well as the smaller, unexpected moments that have significantly influenced us. The concept of “translation” is used here in a figurative sense to explore these narratives.
Writing Our Surreal Reality with Mathias Svalina This workshop focuses on blending surrealist and fabulist writing techniques with realist strategies, enhancing your ability to craft both styles while examining what makes written content feel “realistic.” Participants will write about their daily lives and surroundings through a surrealistic lens.

 

Evening Workshops Description
Fragial Borders, Unruly Tongues: Multilingual Writings in the Borderlines with Nathan Osorio In this workshop, you will write, translate, and explore the intersection between multiple languages and identities. You’ll treat language as a flexible boundary, navigating and blending the different languages that influence and shape your expression.
The Weird Turn Pro: Finding Your Voice Through Play and Experimentation with Gyasi Hall In this workshop, you’ll explore how to develop your writing style by engaging with unconventional prompts and stepping out of your comfort zone. You will experiment with new techniques, challenge preconceptions about “good writing,” and identify what excites you most in your work.
Wild, Weird, Wondrous and Strange: Writing Fabulous Fiction for Surreal Times with Jamie Lyn Smith In this workshop, you’ll study fiction techniques and craft strategies to make your stories more engaging. You’ll transform myths, play with personified nature, and rearrange fables to create new legends. Additionally, you’ll learn to use satire and reverence towards pop culture and incorporate fabulism in your writing.

Important Dates

  • Online Workshops: January 20 – February 24, 2024
  • Application Deadline: January 10, 2024

Eligibility

Here’s what you need to know about eligibility for the Young Writers Winter Online Workshops:

  • You should be between the ages of 16-18 at the time of the program.
  • Participants are rising juniors and seniors. However, you’re welcome to apply if you’ve just graduated high school before the program starts.
  • Sophomores who will be 16 after the program dates are recommended to hold off applying until the next year
  • International Students and previous online workshop participants can also participate.

Program Costs

The Winter Online Workshop costs $655, which includes tuition and all related activities. The full payment is due by January 10. If you cancel by January 12, a $250 cancellation fee will apply. No refunds will be issued after January 12.

a female student studying with her laptop and looking at the camera

Application Materials

If you met all of the eligibility requirements, here are what you’ll need to apply:

  • completed online application form
  • 300-word personal statement
  • high school transcript (it can be official or unofficial)

Is it difficult to get into the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop?

Admission to the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop can be competitive due to its reputation and the quality of the program. Each year, it draws many applicants, including many talented young writers. The selection process primarily considers the strength of your application materials, such as your personal statement and a writing sample. This means the level of competitiveness changes based on the applicant pool each year.

If you’re interested in applying, it’s important to create a strong application showcasing your unique voice and passion for writing. The organizers have explained that they put a lot of focus on the 300-word personal statement the participants submit. It is recommended that you spend a lot of time writing that piece. Here are some tips you can practice to create an excellent personal statement:

  • Start with a vivid scene or moment: Instead of beginning with a general statement about your love for writing, engage your reader by opening with a vivid scene or defining moment that showcases your passion for writing. This approach draws the reader in and immediately demonstrates your writing skills.
  • Focus on your unique perspective: Identify what makes your writing unique, such as cultural influences, unusual subjects, or a distinctive style. Emphasize these elements to stand out and explain how the workshop will help you further develop these aspects of your craft.
  • Reflect on your growth and aspirations: Summarize your writing journey, including significant milestones and challenges, and outline your future goals. Show how the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop will help you achieve these aims, such as refining skills, finding inspiration, or engaging with a writing community.

When you apply these tips, you should be able to create a personal statement that will not only present a clear and engaging narrative but also demonstrate your readiness to benefit from and contribute to the workshop.

Should you join the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop? Is it worth it?

Yes, you should join, and it is absolutely worth it. Joining the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop can be an enriching experience, particularly if you aim to take your writing skills to the next level. However, you have to consider a lot of factors before you make the decision.

Three advantages of joining the workshop include:

  • Improved writing skills: The workshop offers sessions focusing on various genres, providing you with the tools to improve your writing significantly. This skill is invaluable, not only for personal growth but also for academic success in college.
  • Attractive to colleges: Participation in such a prestigious program can be a strong addition to your college application. It demonstrates your commitment to literature and writing, setting you apart from other applicants. This is particularly appealing to competitive liberal arts colleges that value creative thinking and communication skills.
  • Networking opportunities: You’ll meet and collaborate with peers and instructors passionate about writing. These connections can lead to lifelong networks and professional relationships, which can be beneficial as you progress in your academic and writing career.

Things to consider before joining:

  • Cost and financial aid: Assess the workshop’s cost and determine whether it fits your budget or if you need to apply for financial aid.
  • Time commitment: Ensure you can commit fully to the duration of the workshop. Full participation is essential to maximize the benefits of the experience.
  • Academic pressure: Consider your current academic obligations. Ensure that joining the workshop won’t overwhelm your schedule, especially if you are balancing other commitments.

The Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop offers numerous benefits that can aid your personal development and strengthen your college applications. However, carefully considering your financial and time commitments is required to ensure it’s the right fit for you.

a student smiling while holding her phone

Frequently Asked Questions about the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop

1. What do they consider for admission?

The selection committee focuses closely on the 300-word personal statement and the teacher recommendation. They seek students who demonstrate genuine talent and enthusiasm for writing and would excel in both the workshop and residential environments. Their goal is to admit a diverse mix of students with different academic backgrounds and personal interests.

2. What is the acceptance rate for Kenyon Review Writers Workshop?

The reported acceptance rate for the entire workshop is 30% to 35%.

3. How will I know if I got in?

The admission decisions will be sent via email. They are sent out in early May for the Summer Online Workshop, while results are sent in early January for the Winter Online Workshop. Decisions for the Residential Summer Workshop are sent out in late March. 

4. Is the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop prestigious?

Yes, the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop is prestigious. It’s associated with the Kenyon Review, one of the oldest and most respected literary magazines in the United States, and Kenyon College, a renowned liberal arts college with a strong emphasis on writing and literature. The workshop attracts talented high school students from across the nation and around the globe, offering them an intensive, immersive writing experience. Its selective admissions process, high-quality instruction, and dedicated focus on developing young writers’ skills all contribute to its esteemed reputation.

The workshop offers a peek into college life and a fantastic opportunity for networking with professionals in the writing industry and fellow writers. If you’re a high school student passionate about writing, the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop might be the ideal next step.

We recommend you apply and grab this chance to enhance your writing skills. For more details, check out the Kenyon Review Young Writers website. Remember, the literary world eagerly awaits your unique voice and stories. Don’t miss this opportunity to advance your potential as a young writer.

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