When I was 16, I auditioned for the creative writing program at The Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts, never believing I would get in. I agonized over the initial application, expecting a sliver of a rejection envelope in response. Instead, there was a fat packet of audition information and schedules, and again I agonized. I was a quiet writer. I didn’t do readings. But if I wanted to be accepted—and I did, though I hardly allowed myself to hope for it—I would have to read something.
In the end I chose More Nonsense, which would later be published on Strong Verse. I waited for that pitiful envelope again. But it never arrived.
I got in.
The Kentucky GSA is a three-week workshop held at Transylvania University in Lexington each summer. Over 200 of Kentucky’s young artists gather to learn and create—for free. Disciplines include Architecture, Creative Writing, Dance, Drama, Instrumental Music, Musical Theatre, New Media, Visual Art, and Vocal Music. Though you spend the majority of your time with your own discipline, interdisciplinary interaction is strongly encouraged. I had so much fun at GSA. But it was more than that.
Having my writing read, heard, and workshopped by talented peers as well as established writers was an unbelievable experience for me. At the time I attended, the creative writing program was very performance-oriented: we were encouraged to read our work aloud, to put ourselves into it. As a shy introvert, this was difficult for me. But I grew into myself, began to believe that my writing had merit. I could do this.
I won’t say that I would have given up on writing if it weren’t for GSA, because it’s not true. I still would have written, still would have graffitied my graph paper with poetry. But I don’t know that I would have done it with the same fervor. I may have continued keeping it to myself.
The Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. That’s no small feat. If you have a moment and a little cash, please consider donating to the Kentucky GSA, or a GSA in your own state. I wouldn’t want to live in a world without art, and I doubt you want to, either.
I’m a GSA alum, but they have no idea what I’m up to and didn’t ask me to write this post. I genuinely believe in them and everything they do.