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The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Student Artist Spotlight: Maria Cangro ’24 receives full scholarship to Skidmore College Poetry Seminar

Maria Cangro ’24 (front, center-right) lived at Skidmore College for two weeks while taking creative writing workshops. (Photo courtesy of Maria Cangro ’24)

Maria Cangro ’24 grew not only as a poet, but as a person this summer while taking intermediate poetry classes at Skidmore College on a full scholarship.

“I was very, very nervous … but I made friends with people who were in [the] same stage of their writing journey, even if they were in different stages of their life journey,” Cangro said. “Two people in my class were mothers and grandmothers, but they were like, ‘We just started writing poetry a couple years ago.’ And I had just started writing poetry a couple years ago.”

For two weeks, Cangro’s classes consisted of 10 individuals. They were taught by poet Peg Boyers, who would end every class with a different writing prompt for her students.

“[Boyers] has a very interesting approach to poetry because she doesn’t have a [Master of Fine Arts]. All of the poetry professors I’ve had thus far have gone the academic route with it and teach it in a very streamlined way,” Cangro said. “But [Boyers] emphasized [to] just go with what you feel like. She just wanted you to follow where your poetic inspiration was leading you.”

Cangro struggled to produce a new poem every night after being given her prompt by Boyers. However, she found that the limited time to write ultimately helped her improve her abilities.

A prompt requiring one metaphor to be applied throughout a poem particularly challenged Cangro, but ultimately, she found that it helped her produce her finest poem while at Skidmore.

“[That prompt] was challenging, but it made me produce something that I’m not used to producing and kind of go outside of myself and think outside the box,” Cangro said. “It got very good reception in the workshop class, so that made me feel very validated … because I just never had done something like that before.”

During the classes, visiting poets and writers would come for discussion panels and readings. Skidmore College professor April Barnard’s reading particularly resonated with Cangro.

“She told me that poetry is going to come find you whether you want it to or not. You’re gonna get an idea for something at the most inappropriate time. Don’t be afraid to whip out your notebook or your phone or whatever and write down what’s in your head because you don’t want to lose that,” Cangro said. “I think that was a very formative moment because I just love her work so much. So getting to hear her read in her own voice, be in a space with her, but then also get advice from her was amazing.”

After the two weeks of classes were over, Cangro left Skidmore feeling not only more confident in her writing skills, but also in what she wants to do after graduation.

“When I went into Skidmore, I was undecided if I wanted to do MFA programs or PhD programs in English, but then doing that and being in a workshop setting with all poets and writers and having writing-specific events that we got to go to every night made me more excited to pursue the MFA track,” Cangro said. “I think I got good preparation for letters of recommendation and building a writing portfolio and I got great advice on writing my statement of purpose for my MFA applications.”

Cangro would highly recommend Skidmore’s poetry classes for all writers.

“I think it’s a great place to meet famous writers [who] come and do panels every night — you get to purchase their books and have them sign the books and you get to talk to people who have had success in the writing field,” Cangro said. “But you also get to meet people like you who are in your position who are like, ‘Maybe I’ll go to grad school, or I just write for fun.’ So, I think it’s a great way to find community for writers.”

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About the Contributor
Kristen Vincent
Kristen Vincent, Assistant Culture Editor

Kristen Vincent ‘26 is an English Major and a Government and Law Minor. Aside from writing and editing for the newspaper, she is an EXCEL scholar, Writing Associate, LEO, and Secretary of the English Club. When she is not critiquing the latest biopic about a musician with a legendary past, she can be found working on her latest poem or rustling through the bargain bin at your local record store.

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    Jacob P.Sep 1, 2023 at 8:47 am

    So proud!! 🙂