JIYW Program Assistants (PAs) are advanced UMass undergraduates studying the literary arts. PAs provide participants with an introduction to college residential life and day-to-day support. PAs also facilitate morning and evening free-writing sessions, recreational activities in the residence halls, and field trips to area museums. As members of close-knit “pods,” participants develop intense and inspiring relationships with their PAs and each other.
Meet the Program Assistants for the 2014 Young Writers Institute:
CAITLYN (or Cait!) Griffin is a soon-to-be junior here at UMass Amherst. She is double majoring in both Theatre and English, as well as working towards a concentration in Creative Writing. When she isn't on the stage or writing madly in her room, Cait loves going to the movies, grabbing frozen yogurt with friends, or driving to anywhere or any place with music blasting. This is her first year with the Juniper team, and she couldn't be more excited to work with everyone! Who's ready to get inspired?!
DIVYA KIRTI is a sophomore majoring in English, German, and Classics. She loves to read, write, and translate Latin. Her favorite authors are Haruki Murakami, Margaret Atwood, Sherman Alexie, and Virginia Woolf. She enjoys translating Latin poetry at all hours of the day, and is quite the film enthusiast. Her non-academic hobbies include smiling, making flower crowns, and imitating dogs.
CASSIE is finishing up her final semester with a degree in English and Art History and working on a collection of short stories. She likes to spend her time swing dancing, using her dad’s film camera, and baking cakes for all her friends (she makes a mean chai latte cake from scratch). She’s been obsessed with Francesca Lia Block since she was 14 and is currently working her way through the works of Junot Díaz and Robin McKinley. She loves magical realism, fantasy, science fiction, YAdult, and historical fiction and has at least one favorite book in every genre.
ROBIN is a senior at UMass studying creative writing. She writes short fiction and poetry, all centered around the idea of thinking the “right” way vs. thinking the “wrong” way, especially when the narrator is a belittled woman or child. Some of Robin’s favorite fiction writers are Amy Hempel, Flannery O’Connor, and Julio Cortázar. Some of her favorite poets are Heather Christle and Julia Story. She likes it when words are playful. She fell in love with Juniper last summer and can’t wait for another great experience!
ZACK grew up in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, a small town famous for its historical reenactments. Today he attends the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he is creating his own major in computer science and creative writing. He reads voraciously and his favorite authors include Dennis Lehane, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Patrick Rothfuss, and Robert Heinlein. Zack is interested in the places where poetry and prose meet, along with the intersection of writing and digital tools. He develops conventional poetry, but is also interested in "code poems" or programming poetry. He is a returning PA from last year and looks forward to the time we will spend together this year.
ANDRES is a junior at UMass looking to master his literary and poetic craft. Some of his favorite fiction authors are Stephen King, Andrzej Sapkowski, Albert Camus, and a plethora of other novelists. When it comes to poetry, he seeks inspiration from poets like James Tate, Peter Gizzi, Robert Lowell, and classical poets like William Blake and the dark, eerie Edgar Allan Poe. Yet to determine whether he is a true poet or novelist, Andres’ writing takes inspiration from the best of both worlds.
MARTIN is a writer of both poetry and fiction and co-winner of the most recent Five College PoetryFest. As a senior in high school, Martin quit the football team to devote more time to crafting a novel.
MICHAEL SIROIS grew up on the south shore of Boston with his mother, three brothers and two sisters. He graduated from Holyoke Community College and transferred to UMass to study English. In between writing poetry he works on organic farms in the Pioneer Valley and enjoys reading, writing, any outdoor activity (in the summer), and spending time with friends and family. His literary influences are countless and he draws inspiration from a range of authors including Pablo Neruda, Walt Whitman, John Steinbeck, J.R.R. Tolkien, Kate Chopin, and many more.
SARAH LINSTROM is a senior at UMass completing a degree in English with a Specialization in Creative Writing. She’s into experimenting with political poetry and memoir. Allen Ginsberg and Yoko Ono are her biggest heroes and heavily influence her work. Her favorite authors include Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Louise Erdrich.