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March 28, 2012

St. Francis Student Wins Writing Scholarship

St. Francis College Psychology major Katharine Diehl ’13 has just written her own ticket to an amazing summer experience, literally.

Katharine submitted five of her own poems and a letter of recommendation from English Professor Wendy Galgan to Skidmore College for a chance to make it into the 2012 New York State Summer Writers Institute Scholarship Program. She was one of 36 writers from a pool of 375 offered a full scholarship to attend the second of two, two week workshops at the College.

“I've never done something like this before,” said Katharine who often finds herself writing on the subway then editing her work when she gets home. “I hope for some good healthy criticism though. I'm already encouraged that they chose me for the scholarship, so there’s no need to hold back!"

Growing up, Katharine says she wrote and ‘published’ a number of little novels, even crafting fake blurbs and reviews of the work. She worked on a longer novel over the past two summers but for the past year has found her passion in writing poetry. She credits Dr. Galgan, who taught an Honors Seminar in Women’s Poetry for pointing out the Skidmore program.

“She was really encouraging and I loved the class,” added Katharine who says writing is her favorite activity. “The hard part was choosing which poems to send in. They're all my babies!”

Reflecting on her creative process, Katherine says writing a story is similar to painting an impressionist watercolor, “building up all these little strokes and details, and you end up with something that looks best from a distance.” She says poetry, though, is more like creating a sculpture, “it’s a big jumble of images and ideas and wordplay, and then you have to carve it down to get it where you want.”

Katharine says she’s looking forward to being in an environment where she can really indulge in her love for writing and while this will be the first time someone else will edit her poetry, she welcomes the challenge. “I want to rebuild my poems from the ground up. It will be a brilliant experience, I expect.”

The New York State Writers Institute was established in 1984 by award-winning novelist William Kennedy at the University at Albany, SUNY. Under the joint auspices of the Office of the Dean of Special Programs at Skidmore College and the New York State Writers Institute at the University at Albany, the summer program is held on the campus of Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York and features creative writing workshops in fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

Attached photo: Katharine Diehl singing as part of the St. Francis College Choir.