On Sunday, July 21, 2019, Hamline’s Creative Writing Programs will host a Graduate Recognition ceremony to honor all the students who have completed their studies and will be receiving an MFA from Hamline University. 

We will be featuring our soon-to-be alumni as they look back on their time at Hamline University. Today’s new graduate is Kesha Grant. She lives in Atlanta, GA. Follow her on Twitter.

What do you do when you’re not working on packets?

I don’t remember what life was like before packets – I’ll get back with you on this one in about a month.

How did you hear about the Hamline MFAC Program?

I learned about the program from a Google search. I was researching another program when I saw an ad for Hamline. 

What was your writing experience prior to entering the program?

I have been writing since elementary school, but mostly as a hobby. I wanted to become a professional writer when I was in college, but didn’t think to pursue that goal seriously until attending a week long workshop at the Highlights Foundations in 2016. Being there made me feel like I’d found my tribe and I realized that I truly am a writer. After learning learning about low residency MFAC programs, I decided I had enroll in a program. 

What do especially remember about your first residency?

What I remember most about the first residency is my workshop experience. It was amazing. 

Have you focused on any one form (PB, novel, nonfiction, graphic novel) or age group in your writing? Tried a form you never thought you’d try?

I came into the program convinced I only wanted to write MG fantasy. My thesis features MG nonfiction and a picture book biography. So, yeah, I’ve tried a few forms I never thought I’d try. I”m glad I did because I’ve grown as a writer because of it.

Tell us about your Creative Thesis.

The title of my creative thesis is Life on These Strange Shores: Fairytales, Legends, and True Tales of Unlikely Heroes. It is a collection of my strongest writing from the program. The nonfiction middle grade text is a biography on the life of James Forten, a prominent wealthy black businessman and abolitionist who lived in Philadelphia from 1766-1842. I also wrote and rewrote several drafts of a picture book biography that covers his life as well. Finally, the creative thesis features a polished chapter of several works of folklore from my MG Fantasy novel Kwame Legend and the Elemental Guardians.

What changes have you seen in your writing during your studies?

I have more confidence in my writing overall and I’m not afraid to take risks. When I entered the program, I felt very insecure about my writing. Now, I feel much more confident about my craft. I also notice that I am developing a distinct style, at least in my nonfiction writing. In my fiction writing, I’ve noticed that my writing is deeper and I understand my writing process better. Best of all, this semester, I discovered my PB writing voice – that was a big stretch for me, but I’m so glad I did it. 

Any thoughts for entering students or for people considering the program?

Don’t be afraid to reach out to your mentors and other students for help when you’re stuck or if you need encouragement. And take a semester to try something you never thought you’d do. It will stretch you as a writer and make you more well-rounded.