Creative Writing

UNCW Hosts Annual Young Writers Workshop

Forty-three high school students from across the country gathered last week for UNCW’s annual Young Writers Workshop. Organized and operated by the Department of Creative Writing, the five-day camp was held July 11–15 on the UNC Wilmington campus and provided attendees the opportunity to study with published, working writers, including faculty members and graduate students in the department’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program.

Campers spent approximately six hours every day in writing workshops and presentations. Each morning, MFA candidate Kinzy Janssen led the group in writing exercises, including a found poetry activity in which students repurposed magazines into their own poems. Students were also treated to lectures from UNCW faculty members Melissa Crowe (poetry), Beth Staples (fiction), and Michael Ramos (nonfiction). Morgan Davis, an MFA candidate in fiction and a teaching assistant in the Publishing Laboratory, spoke about opportunities in publishing and led a special book design lesson in the department’s Publishing Laboratory, where each student had the chance to design a page of his or her own writing to be included in a group limited-edition book. Other activities included a papermaking workshop with staff from Aluna Works, a local papermaking and silkscreening art studio and gallery, and a field trip to nearby Wrightsville Beach. The camp culminated in a reading on the final night. Campers read their original work, cheered on by many new friends.

“Young Writers Workshop isn’t the first writing camp I’ve been to, but it’s the best,” said Natalia, a camper returning for her fourth year. “Any writer would benefit from this experience because it’s so personal and you’re meeting so many people.”

The experience was mutually beneficial for MFA-candidate counselors. “When we played Mad Libs the first night, one of my campers shouted out a noun, ephebiphobia—meaning fear of teenagers—which pretty summed up how I was feeling when I arrived,” said Morgan Davis. “But creativity and conviction ooze out of these young people. I’ve basically had the lyrics ‘I believe the children are our future’ in my head since camp began.’”

MFA student Ross Gormley (center) leads campers in a Mad Libs exercise at Young Writers Workshop.