Katie Kinkel ’13 has a constantly evolving relationship with the study of English. While she originally planned on getting a Ph.D. in English after graduation, she is now at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she will receive a Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) in English after two years. 

“I ended up becoming increasingly interested in creative writing when I was [at Bowdoin],” Kinkel said. 

Kinkel said she felt that the program would offer her the structure she needs to write best.
“I’ve been aware of Iowa as a program for a while, and it just looked really great,” said Kinkel. “There are readings all the time, and I came [to Iowa] to visit and it seemed like a really lively literature-loving community. When I got in, it was a pretty easy decision to make.”

Kinkel said that the English department provided her with considerable support during her years at Bowdoin.

“I think it’s a really awesome department and there are people who have a variety of different specialties and skills but they’re all great as people and I feel lucky to have known them and worked with them,” said Kinkel. “It’s hard not to be there anymore.” 

However, Kinkel said that the writing program at Bowdoin was fairly small in her time, and she worked exclusively with Writer-in-Residence Anthony Walton on her poetry. 

Additionally, Kinkel worked with Professor of English Peter Coviello on a summer research fellowship before her senior year. 

“I wrote on Frank Bidart, who is a poet that I really love who is really well known for his dramatic monologues, but he writes in the voices of other speakers—some of whom are characters that he created and some of them are real people,” said Kinkel.

During her senior year, Kinkel worked on an honors project with Walton, a book of poetry, titled “Sleep of Reason.” Walton began helping Kinkel with poetry her freshman year after her then-advisor suggested she contact him. 

“I very sheepishly sent him some of my poems; he was really nice about it. I took a couple of classes with him, and I did an independent study for the last two years of my time at Bowdoin,” said Kinkel. 

She added, “I don’t know that many people who had the chance to have that close and prolonged working experience, and I’m infinitely grateful for that.”

Outside of academics, Kinkel wrote regularly for The Quill. She also participated in Glascock-Mount Holyoke’s intercollegiate poetry competition in her junior year. 

Looking back, Kinkel said she wishes she was more involved in the writing community. 

“I would have encouraged myself to be more social as a poet,” she said. “There were a lot of other poets at Bowdoin who were really smart and really talented, but we never really got the chance to sit down and talk about it.”

At Iowa, Kinkel is able to interact and exchange ideas with her peers. 

“It’s a small group of people, but the people here are so talented and they have so much to offer and they really want to talk about your work all the time and help you,” she said. 

Kinkel is currently working on a new book based on great works of art, historical and philosophical texts, and the ways in which women have been depicted as objects or fascinations. 
In the future, Kinkel is hoping to publish and possibly get into teaching. She has been teaching undergraduate poetry classes at Iowa. 

“I think that has been an unexpected but awesome thing that has come out of this—that I love to teach creative writing. It is definitely something that I am considering doing,” said Kinkel. 
Kinkel is also toying with the idea of writing for TV or film. Ultimately, she is trying to make the most out of her current experience. 

“It’s all up to you—you could learn nothing at an MFA program or you could dramatically change your work, and it is all up to the amount of work that you’re willing to put in and the time you want to spend with your professors and your work and your peers,” she said.