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Chloe MadisonMy workshop leader this year was Jensen, and I loved going to workshop. Jensen was always so enthusiastic and excited to hear our writing and our ideas. We covered dozens of skills and techniques, like perspective through observation, character development, James Tate-esque association writing, erasures, and many more. What I loved about Jensen was that he didn’t make workshop feel like a classroom—he treated every reading as a way to explore our individual writing styles and grow as a cooperative writing community. My craft session, “A Man Walks Into A Bar,” was also with Jensen. This was great—simultaneously very insightful and a lot of fun. Jensen knew how to connect with us using humor and made the class enjoyable overall.

The readings at night were great, too. Some writers who I really enjoyed hearing read were Noy Holland, Matthea Harvey, Dorothea Lasky, and Joy Williams. I loved the readings by James Tate and Steve Almond so much that I decided to buy their books!

My Program Assistant was Jonah, and I had an overall fun experience with my pod (which was called the God Pod and the iPod, among other things). I liked how the pod leader was more interactive with the group this year, holding pod meetings and leading writing exercises with us. We worked great together and helped each other out tremendously with our writing. Daily life was packed, but I thought it balanced very well and we got a lot done. Dorm life was tons of fun, especially when we got to hang out with each other during free time and share our writing. The food was excellent, as always.

The experience this year was incredibly immersive, and the heavy emphasis on all forms of writing gave me more sources of inspiration and more opportunities to hone my craft. Everybody here was so passionate about writing and everything we read and shared with each other definitely reflected that. The input from other inspired writers truly made this experience a success for me. The halls were filled with collaboration and elaboration as we helped each other push the barrier and improve our writing skills.

I’ve done Juniper twice now and I think it goes to show just how great the program is, seeing as so many alumni decided to return. While each year had their high and low points, there were definitely several factors this year that made me glad I came back—namely, getting to work with Jensen, meeting new friends, getting closer to old friends, having the chance to write and read a lot more, and getting more confident sharing my work. I truly appreciate both of my times here, and I’m always going to remember them.

Over the past two summers, I’ve really come to value the feedback of other writers, and I definitely plan to continue sharing my work as I move on to college. Jensen taught us dozens of new ways to look at stories and I know I’ll turn to those in the future for inspiration. Most of all, though, I plan to keep in touch with my friends (new and old) and swap writing and ideas with them. We accomplished a lot when we worked together, and I want to keep that relationship strong as we move forward with our writing goals and careers.

I just have to thank everybody involved in making this experience so incredible. I’ll always look back on Juniper with fond memories and I’m going to encourage other young writers at my high school to apply. Both years have been truly magical, and even though I’m moving on, I’ll always carry the experience I’ve gained and the friendships I’ve formed at Juniper with me.

—David Field, ’10 & ’11 participant