SWP Interview with Vernon Keeve III, 2012 recipient of the Zora Neale Hurston Awards
How did you hear about the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics /Summer Writing Program?
I stumbled across the Jack Kerouac School whilst looking for religious studies programs in hopes of furthering my education after my MFA. Naropa was the very first school that popped up in the search engine.
I had heard one of my professors, Gloria Frym, reference the school in several seminars and asked her about it. She pointed me in the direction of the Zora Neale Hurston Award.
I won’t mention how Zora Neale Hurston was the author that solidified my journey as a writer earlier on, nor will I mention my thoughts on how the Summer Writing Program and me were destined to cross paths.
What scholarship did you receive and how many weeks did you attend SWP?
I received the Zora Neale Hurston Awards and attended the program for one week. A week that bountiful in blessings, and unfortunately not accompanied with the other three.
How would you define the experience of SWP? What happened to you/your writing?
My experience at SWP was a moment of growth placed at the perfect time. I had finished my first year of my MFA, and I felt stagnant. I felt as if my writing matured, but I felt imprisoned on a plateau that was slowing becoming an island surrounded by rushing waters. Naropa was a lifeboat that took me to a spiritual, academic and creative place.
Naropa told me that my writing wasn’t just about me. Amiri Baraka said it loud and clear. As writers—as poets, we have to remove the ‘I’ from our work, and we have to educate ourselves on what is going on around us. A writer is an observer, as well as a soothsayer. We have to be soothing the problem areas, or else we are just singing a lovely tune as the world burns around us.
Read the full interview with Vernon and an excerpt of his work here.
Vernon Keeve III is from Fredericksburg, Virginia and is currently attaining his MFA in Writing at California College of the Arts. He has future hopes of educating young artists that he feels are neglected within the current public school system. He plans to never stop writing. He thinks M. Night Shyamalan is a genius (sans The Last Airbender). And, he smiles a lot.