Kyra Spence ’14 Bound for Iowa Writers’ Workshop

Kyra Spence ’14 has accepted an admissions offer at Iowa Writers’ Workshop to pursue an MFA in Poetry. The Iowa Writers’ Workshop is considered the top creative writing program in the country by many, and boasts graduates such as Flannery O’Connor and former faculty as Robert Lowell.

Kyra, who studied creative writing in college, credits her time at George School with shaping her trajectory as a creative writer. “All of my George School English teachers took me and my work so seriously, offered me such meaningful encouragement and criticism alike, and most importantly, gave me the space, freedom, and safety to really develop intellectually and creatively. Terry Culleton, who was my English teacher both my freshman and senior year at GS, was the one who first told me that I ought to consider studying at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His poetic sensibilities, kindness, and support modelled for me a way of life as a poet, and gave me the confidence to pursue writing into college and beyond. I am so grateful for his, and the influence of all of my other George School teachers.”

Kyra also used her perspective as a writer to offer some reflections on the value of poetry and the arts in general for society today. “I think they’re more important than ever, or, as important as they’ve always been. I’ll have to defer to other minds here, and quote Robert Frost, who said that a poem ‘begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness. It is a reaching-out toward expression; an effort to find fulfillment. A complete poem is one where an emotion finds the thought and the thought finds the words.’ I think that’s the best we can do right now, and it’s no small order: to use what tools we have to express when we feel a sense of wrong, to search honestly for and try to create a deeper fulfilment…The arts have always shown us the injustice, longing, or heartsickness that is hidden, unspoken, or invisible.”

Kyra’s acceptance at Iowa is no surprise in consideration of her existing poetic accomplishments. At Barnard, she earned honors including the Sidney Minor Poetry Prize, awarded to a senior for distinction in the study and writing and poetry, the Helene Searcy Puls Prize for Poetry, which she was awarded for her work three years in a row, and the Amy Loveman Memorial Prize for Best Original Poem. Kyra has had her work published in DownEast Magazine, The Visible Poetry Project, and New York’s Best Emerging Poets: An Anthology.

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