The Young Writers Studio is an innovative, five-day writing program for local high school students.
The Young Writers Studio is for young people who want to become better writers, learn about themselves, and see their island home with fresh eyes. If you are curious about the history of Key West and want to find your voice as a writer, this program is for you!
Open to any student in Monroe County who will be starting their sophomore, junior, or senior year in the fall of 2019, the Young Writers Studio is free for all accepted applicants and is open to writers or would-be writers of all levels. Students who are homeschooled or from unconventional educational backgrounds are equally encouraged to apply.
“Island in the Works” | June 24-28, 2019
Students will spend five full days exploring Key West and learning about great American authors who have lived and worked here, including Ernest Hemingway, Elizabeth Bishop, Wallace Stevens, and James Merrill. The program emphasizes journaling, close observation, and site-specific writing exercises, together with constructive feedback and group critique.
Daily classroom exercises will be paired with visits to local historic sites such the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum. Students will picnic and write beneath the pines at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, and investigate rare archival material at the Monroe County Public Library. Site-specific writing exercises will take participants from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, and as far west as Fort Jefferson and Dry Tortugas National Park during a special daylong excursion into the dynamic natural landscape that has inspired countless writers.
Each afternoon will feature a writing workshop led by Nicole Dennis-Benn, an acclaimed novelist and lecturer in the Creative Writing Program at Princeton University. Throughout the sessions, a skilled and caring group of KWLS faculty and special guests will support young writers as they explore the relationship between identity and place, and discover the joys and challenges of the writing process. More information about our core faculty can be found below.
The theme of the Young Writers Studio references James Merrill’s poem, “Island in the Works.” Written from his Elizabeth Street home in the 1980s, the poem is rooted in natural phenomena and vernacular language distinctive to Key West. Full of observed imagery, a relish for language, and a great sense of humor, the poem represents the ethos of the Young Writers Studio.
How to Apply:
Write a letter to the Key West Literary Seminar:
- Introduce yourself. Explain why you want to be part of this program. What makes you a great candidate? What in the description of Young Writers Studio intrigues you?
- Describe your relationship to reading and writing. Please tell us what has been your favorite thing (novel, poem, short story, graphic novel, children’s book, anything) you have ever read and why.
- Tell us about your relationship to Key West. What do you love about this area and landscape the most? Do you have a favorite place or a favorite aspect of life here?
- Feel free to address these questions in whatever order makes the most sense to you and creates a logical flow.
- Be yourself. Your letter should be casual and relaxed. Don’t be afraid to give us a sense of your personality and be completely honest.
- Remember that detail, description, and sharing quick anecdotes or examples can help make your writing fun and relatable.
- Also remember that editing for typos and small errors helps show that you care and are trying to make the best first impression.
Your letter should be no more than 650 words (minimum 500 words), which is the standard maximum length for a college application essay. It will be good practice!
Deadline: We highly recommend that you apply by the priority deadline of May 1. Applications will be reviewed as they are received and space is limited.
Questions? Please email or call us at 305-293-9291.
About our Team
The Young Writers Studio is funded in part by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, as part of the Knight Arts Challenge.