by Erica Rabito
Some might curl up with a good book in chilly weather. The Kenyon Review celebrates fall weather –– and literature –– with its its annual literary festival, which kicks off tomorrow at 8 p.m. with a reading by Tarfia Faizullah and David James Poissant. Since 2007, the celebration has brought in renowned poets, novelists and essayists, among other writers. This year, the Review is taking a new direction with a panel on New Journalism and literary nonfiction.
Keynote speaker Roger Rosenblatt began writing professionally as a columnist for The New Republic. Following a period as editor at the Washington, D.C.-based magazine, he went to The Washington Post as a columnist. Until 2006, he continued his journalistic work as an essayist for Time magazine before retiring from journalism and to write fiction and memoir full time.
Since 2002, the Review has been giving out The Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement. This event, a gala dinner in New York City, helps to raise money for the scholarships for the Young Writers Program, but also puts prominent writers in touch with the Review. “After doing that for a few years, our editor, David Lynn, and our board of trustees felt very strongly that they wanted to see if they could find a way to bring the honoree of the award back to Kenyon, to kind of bring the excitement and literary merit of that person back to campus,” said Abigail Serfass, managing editor of the Review and a founding member of the festival.
One way the festival attempts to include the local Kenyon community is through guest speakers. Tory Weber, associate director of the Review, noted how this year’s recipient of the Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement, Roger Rosenblatt, factors into the festival. “This year we’ll have a panel discussion on journalism, ‘Beyond New Journalism,’ because Roger Rosenblatt has written fiction and nonfiction, but he also has a big career in journalism,” Weber said. This talk will take place Saturday at 2 p.m. at the bookstore.
Rosenblatt has visited Kenyon before. Two years ago, he taught a two-week memoir master class, which Natalie Wardlaw ’16 participated in. “He really valued extremely clean and intentional writing where every sentence had to count,” Wardlaw said. “He definitely valued your expressiveness, but wanted to keep you reigned in and keep you making conscious decisions for each phrase.”
Another event new to the festival this year is bookmark-making session using the letterpress in Bexley Hall. This attraction comes from the KR Associates 1939 Press workshop run by Ellen Sheffield, visiting instructor of art. This collaborative class, held for the first time last year, taught participants about basic typography, page design and other old-fashioned methods of printing.
The Kenyon Review Festival is a way for Kenyon and all Knox County to be enveloped in the world of literature, if only for two days. Literary festival intern for the Elizabeth Ovieda ’16 said she was excited for the event, and encouraged students to attend.