Aspiring writers had an opportunity to meet and learn from published poet and author Kevin Pilkington earlier this month. Kevin has authored six collections of poetry and two novels. His work has been published in journals nationwide and has been nominated for four Pushcart Prizes.
Students said they liked his take on the process of writing. Bea Feichtenbiner ’19, one of the editors of Argo, the student-produced literary and arts magazine, said that she wanted to ask him the best advice for her to pass on to her contributors. “He said it is not about whether you like a poem, but what works and what doesn’t, such as word choices and themes.”
Kate Klaver ’18 said she also appreciated his take on multiple approaches for appreciating and analyzing poetry. “There are no limits when it comes to poetry; there is only what works, and what doesn’t work.”
Bea said she learned that writing a book of poetry, while an accomplishment by itself, opened a lot of doors for Kevin, such as helping him get a job as a professor. He is currently a member of the writing faculty at Sarah Lawrence College.
Duffy ’18 said she liked his ideas about where to draw inspiration. “He said to be open to everything, like listening to good music. He talked about being open to the world and what is around you.”
English teacher Terry Culleton arranged the visit and said the opportunity to bring in a new voice for students is a welcome one. “In my class the kids hear twice a week from me and from one another about the writing process, creativity, etc., and that can become a somewhat hermetic process as the year goes on. It’s very good for them to get fresh input from someone who comes from the world at large. These folks, too, because they are practitioners, have a lot of different slants and mantras about what poetry is, how to generate material, the importance of revision, and, perhaps most importantly, the mysteries of artistic creation.”
Kevin came to campus for two sessions, which included a reading, discussion of the process of writing, and an interactive discussion.