Meet Abigail Kahn, a senior in high school from Virginia. She loves to write, read, research women’s history and spend time with her dog. During the summer of 2019, Abigail had the exciting opportunity to explore her love of creative writing more intensively as one of almost 400 students in the PreCollege Program at Pratt Institute. Keep reading to learn more about Abigail’s experience living as a college student at Pratt, as well as her interests, her future career plans, and read one of her most recent literary pieces titled, Saint Apollonia.
Pratt SCPS: As a student in last summer’s Pratt PreCollege Program how would you describe the experience of living and studying like an art and design college student?
Abigail: It was completely independent and exciting. It felt refreshing in the sense of having the chance to work in an area of study that you love so much. It didn’t feel as daunting as I thought it would because of how quickly everyone in my group got along. It was fun to see all the other art students and witness the process of their projects. It was especially prominent in this program because I’ve been used to having a little art program at my school back home and all of a sudden there was this diverse range of classes everyone was part of. There’s so many chances to incorporate your own interests and areas of research into your projects. It motivates you to be around so many talented people who are engaged in an area of interest that they chose. No one is stressing about algebra or physics, everyone was just constantly inspired. There was also the addition of being around people who came from far away or were commuter students and knew the city perfectly which was always cool to be around.
The experience of being in a city was incredible, too. There was one day where one of our professors took us into the city to visit book stores and it was one of my favorite days in the program. Having the chance to get familiar with Brooklyn was definitely a key factor I was anticipating as someone who has grown up in a single neighborhood. Finally having the chance to discover a new area was definitely a memorable part of the program.
Pratt SCPS: What valuable lessons were you able to gain from your time at Pratt and what part of the Pratt experience do you reflect on the most?
Abigail: The classes I had were unlike anything I had ever taken. It was a dream to be able to purely study writing. I think within those classes there were so many lessons between my professors that I still reference in my writing. I’ve found myself going back to a lot of the messy notes I took in class for this school year. My understanding of texts and how to deepen my analytical thinking has been something I’ve kept closest to myself outside of the program. For writing, it’s heavily implemented into you to trust your writing. Whenever you begin to second guess or think of stepping back—that’s when you should submerge yourself into the writing even more.
At this time in my school year, I find myself looking back on my classes the most. I went through more growth as a writer than I thought I would within a month and that’s something I’ve held onto for myself for motivation. The professors challenge you each day to step outside of your comfort zone because they know that’s the way you’ll enhance your work and develop a more sophisticated voice. They do this with the texts they introduce in class, too. I’ve had a lot of days since leaving the program where I miss all the plays or short stories I was assigned because of how they were unlike anything I’ve ever been given in English classes before. The work they introduce to you in the program never felt like a reused curriculum from other teachers. It held personal connections from the professors themselves, which always made the class discussions more stimulating.
Pratt SCPS: As a blossoming creative writer where do you draw your inspiration from? What motivates you to create and write?
Abigail: I draw the most inspiration from women. The majority of my writing is influenced by the relationships with women in my life or the historical female figures I find the most solace in. “Maddening women” is a pretty common theme in my writing—in terms of women who I think were justified for their “anger” or memories I have of my sisters. I’m always interested in dissecting why certain women in history were seen as vile or controversial at the time and why they were given that reputation. I like the idea of reclaiming what used to be seen as something to be fearful of in women, such as female hysteria and witchcraft, and then juxtaposing it with modern girls and how those terms are something to take pride in. I think I’ve spent so many years being trained to take in media that devalues women or condescends them that I’m now able to unravel those moments and understand how it affected me and how I can adjust those perspectives to fit my choice of representation for women. All forms of writing, even the angry little rants on my notes app have all helped me find relief in history or the present that can feel distressing. I’ve been really fortunate to grow up around observant, opinionated women who value their first impressions on certain events or people—and I owe all my writing to them.
Pratt SCPS: Where do you see yourself in a couple years? Do you envision yourself studying creative writing and pursuing it as a professional career or do you envision yourself exploring other areas that interest you?
Abigail: I hope I’m at a point where I’m studying subjects that truly interest me and I’m able to challenge myself in those areas of interest. I definitely want to continue studying creative writing for as long as I can and with that, make a career out of it. The idea of getting a book deal feels very unreal as of now, but it is something I’m striving for the most. If any point I’d be offered a chance to write about women, I’d be immensely thankful.
I’d also like to study art history and go into curator or archivist work in museums. Writing will always be my first choice for anything, but I’m still waiting to graduate school and I’m definitely open for whatever comes next.
Saint Apollonia written by Abigail Kahn