“Writers@Grinnell taught me how to be a part of a literary community. The visiting writers gamely answered our questions, they read our horrible first drafts, and they drank cheap beer with us afterward. These were eminent figures appearing in our little town to share their wisdom with teenagers. Yet the program managed to humanize them; the possibility of being a writer seemed less remote. I’m finishing my MFA at Columbia now. If Grinnell hopes to foster the next generation of young writers, continued support for Writers@Grinnell is essential.”

— Daniel Penny, ’13

“When people ask me what it is I do, I inevitably sound like I’m bragging. Have you heard of Roxane Gay? Natasha Tretheway? They’re clients of the agency I work for, and also future and former speakers at Writers@Grinnell. Without that program I wouldn’t be where I am today. I learned what a literary agent does at a Writers@Grinnell event. I got a publishing internship at Sterling Lord Literistic. And now I have my first real job in the business.”

— Clare Mao, ’14

“Writing professionally once seemed as wild and abstract a concept as fire eating or playing basketball in the NBA—it sounded great, but I’d never met anyone who had actually done it. Next year I will be attending the University of Iowa’s MFA program in nonfiction. It’s an incredible opportunity, one that I’d never even have entertained without the support of the English department and the influence of Writers@Grinnell. I hope that future students will continue to be as inspired as I was by this program.”

— Emily Mester ’14

“Though I was a biology major at Grinnell, I not only took lots of creative writing courses, but I also produced a collection of poems for my mentored advance project or MAP. I even published one of these poems in a professional literary magazine.  In this way, Writers@Grinnell represents the essence of the liberal arts by helping to shape an individual with diverse perspectives and experiences. I simply can’t say enough about how the program has positively impacted my life.”

— Ethan Kenvarg ’12

“So many of my favorite readings were through Writers@Grinnell — I think of Adrienne Rich, John Edgar Wideman and Edward Hirsch and still get chills. For me the value of this program was the practical conversations I had with working artists. I remember novelist and Grinnell alumnus David Mura telling a small group of students how the writers he knew from his youth who were now making a living at it weren’t necessarily the ones who had been the most talented — the ones he was sure would ‘make it.’ They were, instead, the writers who kept writing. Our fate, I learned, was entirely up to us.”

— Molly McArdle, ’09

“Now, in my first apartment since graduating, I have my shelf of Writers@Grinnell books. Not only do they hold the prized signatures of well known authors and poets, but they also contain the memories of those Thursday nights when professors, students, staff and community members emerged from their separate rooms and sat together quietly to absorb the power of words.”

— Lucy Marcus ’14

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