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Fall 2002

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Write on!

After graduating cum laude in May, English major Kelly Sullivan ’02 started waiting tables at Chez Sophie Bistro, the smart French restaurant set in a restored diner just outside Saratoga. She had plans to go for an M.F.A. at Arizona State this fall. Then she found out she’d won a Fulbright grant to support a creative writing project in Dublin, Ireland.
     When she applied for the grant, Sullivan proposed studying at the Oscar Wilde Centre for Irish Writing at Trinity College. By the time her Fulbright was awarded, the Trinity program was closed (it accepts only about twelve people). So Sullivan will spend the next academic year writing on her own in Ireland, something she considers “an amazing gift.”
     Irish literature seduced Sullivan in high school, when a friend turned her on to James Joyce. “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man became my bible,” she says. “It taught me about the morality and aesthetics of creating, and it offered insight into the power of text to move a reader and offer a vision.” Sullivan wrote her senior thesis on Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake. More recently, she has found inspiration in Seamus Heaney’s poetry. “From him,” she says, “I’ve learned much of the richness of language and the immediacy of the vivid, earthy word.”
     At Skidmore, Sullivan was in the Honors Forum, studied in London, and received the 2002 Edwin Moseley Prize in English. This past July she returned to campus to attend the New York State Summer Writers Institute for two weeks, working with poet Lucie Brock-Broido. Skidmore’s Fulbright advisor, sociology professor Bill Fox, says Sullivan’s grant recognizes her “superb talents as a writer, her excellent academic record, her love of Irish literature, and her serious commitment to writing.”
     In Ireland, Sullivan will expand her poetry portfolio; she’ll also start cranking out a novel—her first—and will conduct a comparative study of contemporary Irish and American writing; she’s interested in eventually pursuing a Ph.D. in Anglo-Irish literature. She also intends to check out some Dublin writers’ groups, find a place to ride horseback (she was on Skidmore’s riding team for four years), and do some traveling.
     As for her M.F.A. plans, Sullivan deferred her admission to Arizona State; she’ll likely enroll there when she returns from Ireland. —MTS

 


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