Kelsey Donk is a creative nonfiction writer. She also works as a freelance translator, writer, editor, and blogger. She recently graduated summa cum laude from Kalamazoo College and is applying to MFA nonfiction programs around the United States and United Kingdom. Kelsey has spent much of the past two years working on a series of personal essays about faith and belonging. Much of her work has to do with France — she lived in Clermont-Ferrand for nine months in 2013 and 2014, and spent five months working and living in Laval. She is in the drafting phases of a memoir about her nine months in Clermont-Ferrand, in which she writes about loneliness and the learning process that happens when one is alone for the first time in a 21-year-long life. She enjoys researching historical and contemporary events and incorporating them in her work. Kelsey was a writer in residence at La Porte Peinte for several months in 2016. www.afrenchpressing.com
While at La Porte Peinte, I worked on a historical nonfiction book project, Wonders in the Deep. This work in progress is based on the story that surrounds the inauguration of a statue in Saint-Malo on October 24, 1897. On the day of the inauguration of a statue of the virgin, a parade of boats followed the statue to its resting place on the Bizeux rocks in the middle of the bay. One of the boats, that of M. Henri Emilie Boucher and family, capsized en route to the ceremony. Mme. Marie Emilie Camille Boucher, two of her daughters, and their nanny drowned. Only M. Boucher, his son, the cook, and a sailor survived. I learned about this drowning after seeing the statue in Saint-Malo on a previous trip, and I felt pulled to return to France to research this story, and to write about my findings. During my residency, I continued my research and worked on the manuscript.