By Shehtaz Huq ’14
Among approximately 400 applications received, English major Jasmine Jay ’14 (Allentown, Pa.) is one of 50 students nationwide to be invited to the prestigious NY State Summer Writers Institute.
Jay, a recipient of the institute’s merit scholarship that aims at promoting access and diversity, will spend four weeks over the summer on the Skidmore College campus in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., to attend a creative writing workshop in fiction and poetry.
The summer institute is a joint effort between Skidmore College and the New York State Writers Institute at the University at Albany and features a distinguished staff of Pulitzer- and National Book award-winning writers.
Jay was nominated by Lee Upton, writer-in-residence and professor of English.
“I nominated Jasmine because of her obvious strengths as a writer,” she says. “It’s a privilege to work with students who are invested in their education and excited about expanding their gifts.”
Jay, for her part, pursued the application largely for the lineup of visiting authors at the institute.
“I think it will be very valuable to hear what well-established writers such as Joyce Carol Oates and Amy Hempel have to say about the creative writing process,” she says.
The close student-professor relationship that Lee and Upton share will also be reflected next year, when Lee supervises Jay’s senior thesis in creative writing.
“Jasmine is inventive, vivid, and engaging,” Upton says. “Her poetry is continually surprising and refreshing, and even at times startling for its range of references.”
Jay’s interest in poetry and short fiction runs deep.
“I think a lot of people are interested in these two forms, since they can be so confessional and self-expressive,” she says. “The creative writing tells us a lot about how humans work and interact with each other.”
Although this is the first creative writing workshop of such magnitude that Jay will attend, she believes that her experience at Lafayette and the interactive nature of the creative writing concentration itself—with in-class workshops, poetry reading events, and department initiatives to generate student writing—have given her an idea of what to expect at Skidmore College this summer.
Jay would like to return to Lafayette one day after going to graduate school for writing.
“I think there could always be more creative writing teachers in the world,” she says. “We’ll see what happens.”