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Kenyon College
Where We Arrive Children and Leave Adults
Creative Writing 
31st-May-2007 09:09 pm

I'm going to be a senior in high school this fall, and Kenyon is one on a long list of colleges I'm considering.

Do any of you know anything about the creative writing program?

I want to be able to have a lot of time to write and be critiqued by qualified people who genuinely love writing and know what they're talking about. I don't want to have to muck around with too many tedious required courses that detract from the overall experience. I want to specialize in creative non-fiction.

1st-Jun-2007 04:21 am (UTC)

Kenyon's writing program is intense, well-loved, and amazing. A few things to keep in mind:

1) The creative writing workshops are not open to freshmen. You take special freshmen seminars during your first year, and submit writing samples for consideration during your second semester. If you are deemed worthy, you are allowed to enter the creative writing workshop the next year.

2) Many of my friends have found the creative writing track to be the most rewarding part of their Kenyon experience. It is, however, not for the weak-minded or unsure.

2a) First - there are a lot of really good writers at Kenyon. Even if you were the best in your school/town/city, you'll find colleagues and compatriots at Kenyon. This means that life will always be interesting - but it may be a bit disconcerting at first to no longer be the "big fish".

2b) Kluge, Kluge, Kluge. If you are fortunate enough to take creative writing with P.F. Kluge, you will not soon forget the experience. He routinely makes both girls and boys cry, is ruthless with his criticism, and does not suffer fools. But if you are truly serious about your writing, he will be your best tool in your pursuit of excellence. He genuinely loves his craft, and he will be a wonderful mentor in your pursuit of excellence. Just don't drop out the first time you get a critique back and see scathing comments and a B-.

3) If you do the program, expect to go abroad to Exeter junior year. About 80% of English majors do, I believe.

4) General comments: The English program is a wonderful one. There are a lot of extremely talented youngsters flocking to it every year (I can say youngsters because I graduated almost two weeks ago now), and a devoted cadre of writer-professors who truly enjoy their students and their art. If you are really interested in the program, I would suggest emailing a few of the professors and start getting to know them. They won't bite (even Kluge). If that doesn't appeal to you, I could give you a couple names of students to get in touch with. Or surf Facebook. :)

Good luck on your college search! Sorry this comment got a bit long. Let us know how things go!

- Caiti '07
1st-Jun-2007 04:29 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! This is exactly the type of feedback I need.

One thing I want to clarify: are you bogged down with non-major-related work at Kenyon? I really need a college experience that will help me grow as a writer and give me time to write.

I'll e-mail professors, if they're open to that sort of thing.

What does Kluge teach?
1st-Jun-2007 05:11 am (UTC)
This is what Kenyon requires:
A) 1 year in each of the four divisions of the college: Fine Arts, Social Sciences, Humanities, and Natural Sciences.
B) 1 year of a foreign language (unless you test out).
C) 1 semester of a course that qualifies as "Quantitative Reasoning."

Apart from that, you're free to pursue whatever you wish. I personally had two majors and a minor, which were coincidentally in three of the four divisions, so my diversification experience consisted of a year of calculus (satisfied both Part C and the Natural Sciences part of Part A). A lot of my friends escaped both math and hard science by taking a year of psychology and a semester of economics.

In general, you'll probably have to take a couple classes you aren't wild about, but if you pick carefully you'll have more fun/learn more than you anticipated. Some of my friends ended up in Baby Drama (Drama 101) for Fine Arts and ended up deciding to do Drama as a second major. And Kenyon's requirements are a lot less strenuous than most colleges. My brother's starting at Claremont McKenna in the fall and his "core" requirements are rather intense!

(And if you're REALLLY leery of taking classes beyond English, you could always ask around and find the easiest classes/profs. People are always happy to share their experiences and impressions!)

As far as emailing professors, as long as you're nice and don't send them oodles of writing samples, I'm sure they'd love to talk to you. I spent hours in my professors' offices, and count a couple of them among my closest friends. It's a small, close-knit community in Gambier!

Kluge generally teaches just his two sections of Intro to Fiction Writing (maximum ten students each section). They're rather labor-intensive classes for him! He also teaches another course once in a while - for example, last fall he taught Greeneland (i.e. Graham Greene), which was capped at twelve.
1st-Jun-2007 05:15 am (UTC)
Thanks again!

I'm definitely adding Kenyon to my list of colleges to look into :]
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