Category Archives: Colorado Review/Center for Literary Publishing

Colorado State University Center for Literary Publishing Director Stephanie G'Schwind talks with an intern about a project, April 2013. Image by CSU Photography.

Colorado State University Center for Literary Publishing Director Stephanie G’Schwind talks with an intern about a project, April 2013. Image by CSU Photography.

Congratulations to the Center for Literary Publishing (CLP) and the director Stephanie G’Schwind for receiving this prestigious honor!

Programs are awarded this designation because they have achieved great distinction and set a standard for excellence in research, teaching, and service that may serve as a model for programs throughout the institution and externally. Thus, the Program of Research and Scholarly Excellence (PRSE) designation will provide enhanced visibility and enable advocacy in the context of the larger research and training missions of CSU. An annual graduate fellowship allocation from the Graduate School will accompany the PRSE designation. Additional funds will be made available to PRSE-designated programs through an annual Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) competition mechanism.

Stephanie G’Schwind, the Center’s director and Editor in Chief of Colorado Review, applied for this honor, and we are very proud that her hard work and dedication to the Center have been recognized by CSU. Home of Colorado Review, the Colorado Prize for Poetry, the Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction, and the Mountain West Poetry Series, the Center for Literary Publishing’s mission is two-fold: to publish contemporary short fiction, poetry, and nonfiction and to offer graduate students the opportunities to learn about and participate in literary publishing through a professional internship. The Center was established in 1992 and is housed in the English Department at Colorado State University.

Tags: ,

Andrew Mangan
MFA Creative Writing: Fiction, 2nd year

andrew04

Tell us a bit about yourself. Well, I’m from a small, St. Louis exurb called Festus. I served two years of college in Cape Girardeau, then enjoyed three at the University of Missouri–Columbia, from which I graduated in 2013 with a degree in English (emphasis in creative writing, fiction). I interned at The Missouri Review before CSU/Colorado Review. At any given moment, I’m probably eating a turkey sandwich.

How did you find out about the internship at the CLP? Via my boss at the Missouri Review (TMR), Evelyn Rogers; she first showed me an issue of Colorado Review (CR).

Why did you apply? I’d heard of the journal before Evelyn showed me a copy (CR had published David Foster Wallace, who I geeked out over in undergrad; here, let me quote to you from a poem he wrote in first-grade called “Vikings”…), but I hadn’t read an issue until then. It then became one of the main reasons I applied to CSU’s MFA—the chance to work there. I loved my time at TMR and wished to continue that at another blue-chip lit mag.

andrew06

What did you expect before you started? Given my experience at TMR, I had somewhat known what I was getting into—slush-pile reading, proofing and copyediting manuscript.

How has it surprised you? That it’s an intensive yet holistic experience working there. In the early stages of the internship, Stephanie would walk me through my copyedits of a piece, pointing out smart calls I’d made, as well as grievous oversights; this helped hone my eye for grammatical/syntactical/semantical/etc. mistakes and ambiguities. One of the best developments: I’ve become a better sentence-level writer working there.

andrew09

What’s a typical shift like, a “day in the life of an intern”? Most days for me are composed of reading through the either the “standard submission” queue or the Nelligan Prizes. A good number of days also involve copyediting and/or proofing pieces for the journal.

Where will we find you in five years? Still writing as I work at a literary journal, book publisher, or ad agency. Probably, I’ll be living in New York or Chicago, or some other Big City. (I look forward to stumbling upon this Q&A in five years and marveling at my old self’s naiveté and/or premonitory faculties. [Hey, future self: terribly sorry for all the mistakes me—past self—will make.])

How do you think this internship will help you in the future? It’ll help in the acquisition/retainment of the aforementioned job at a journal/publisher/ad house. Plus, it will aid in copyediting my own work, which will in turn sharpen its quality and clarity.

andrew11

What advice do you have for students who want to apply to the internship? It’s not a huge time commitment, and you’ll learn a lot. So, it’s simple: do it. (Plus, once a year we have a meeting for which Stephanie buys pizza, and that’s cool.)

Favorite CLP memory? Working the AWP booth in Seattle with other interns. We gave out fortune cookies; people loved us.


Considering doing an internship in the fall? As the spring semester winds down it can difficult to think about anything but finishing up course work, completing finals, and the promise of summer break. Even so, students may find themselves considering internships for the fall semester. The Center for Literary Publishing (CLP) Internship Program is one option for graduate students. CLP interns serve as first and second readers for the nearly nine thousand manuscripts of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction that Colorado Review receives every year. Interns also have opportunities to copyedit, proofread, and typeset; learn about book & magazine design, production, and management; gain proficiency in current industry software (InDesign, PhotoShop, Illustrator, FileMaker, WordPress, and Submittable); participate in social media campaigns; and assist in grantwriting.

Find out more about this internship.

Tags: , , , ,

Angela Mergentime
MA English: Literature, 2nd year

Angela1

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am especially interested in literary fiction, and I enjoy researching and writing about a variety of topics in literature. I’m currently working on researching modernity, trauma, and identity fragmentation in D’Arcy McNickle’s The Surrounded for my thesis project, but I have also done research in early modern literature among other things. I attended CSU as an undergraduate, receiving a B.A. in English Literature with minors in Business and Information Technology in 2013, and after I graduate I’m hoping to find editorial work in book publishing.

How did you find out about the internship at the CLP?
I found out about the internship at the CLP by searching online for internships related to literary publishing.

Why did you apply?
I applied so that I could gain experience in the publishing process, and learn what publications look for in fictions submissions.

angela14

What did you expect before you started?
When I first started I didn’t really know what to expect, but I knew that I would be reading fiction and contributing to the publishing decision process by filtering through fiction submissions for pieces that we might be interested in for the Colorado Review. I also knew that I would be providing feedback on the pieces I read, since I was an acquisitions intern for Dzanc Books the summer before I applied and had been doing similar work for them remotely.

How has it surprised you?
What surprised me was how much more I had to gain from the experience other than reading submissions. Although reading submissions is an integral part of what I do at CLP, and it will help me know what to expect in acquisitions, I have also been able to learn valuable copyediting and typesetting skills that I can apply in my editorial career. In addition, I learned how to use InDesign and Photoshop to design publications and book covers, which will be especially useful in book publishing.

angela20

What’s a typical shift like, a “day in the life of an intern”?
During a typical shift, I usually spend my time either reading fiction submissions and providing feedback for the Colorado Review or the Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction, copyediting pieces that we have chosen for publication, typesetting an edition of the Colorado Review, or following online tutorials about InDesign or Photoshop.

Where will we find you in five years?
With any luck, in five years you will find me working for a book publishing company as an acquisitions editor.

How do you think this internship will help you in the future?
This internship has helped me prepare for the future by providing me with the necessary editorial, acquisitions, and technical skills I need to succeed as an editor in book publishing.

angela09

What advice do you have for students who want to apply, do the internship?
The advice I have for students is to get involved sooner rather than later if they are interested in publishing. I didn’t know about the internship opportunity until my second year of the M.A. program, and I would have definitely applied during my first year if I had known it was available.

Favorite CLP memory?
My favorite CLP memory was when I finally saw a printed copy of the edition of the Colorado Review I had been typesetting. I had been struggling with some formatting issues during the process, and it was really rewarding to see how my work paid off and the whole publication came together as a finished product.


Considering doing an internship in the fall? As the spring semester winds down it can difficult to think about anything but finishing up course work, completing finals, and the promise of summer break. Even so, students may find themselves considering internships for the fall semester. The Center for Literary Publishing (CLP) Internship Program is one option for graduate students. CLP interns serve as first and second readers for the nearly nine thousand manuscripts of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction that Colorado Review receives every year. Interns also have opportunities to copyedit, proofread, and typeset; learn about book & magazine design, production, and management; gain proficiency in current industry software (InDesign, PhotoShop, Illustrator, FileMaker, WordPress, and Submittable); participate in social media campaigns; and assist in grantwriting.

Find out more about this internship.

Tags: , , , ,

Jayla Rae Ardelean
MA English: Creative Nonfiction
Expected Graduation 2015

jaylarae07

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I have two dachshunds, love to start new drafts of essays, and keep an eye out for birds wherever I go.

How did you find out about the internship at the CLP?
I believe I found it on CSU’s website, asked Marnie about it, and then she told me to email Stephanie and I was in!

Why did you apply?
I had thought of interning for undergraduate journals as a missed opportunity for me. When I saw the brochure listing the kinds of skills and activities interns would be involved in at Colorado Review and what sorts of jobs alumni were moving onto, I knew instantly it’s where I wanted to be–on a graduate level of work.

jaylarae12

What did you expect before you started?
I had expected to be faced with things I’d never done before and that it might be difficult.

How has it surprised you?
What surprised me the most was that in learning new skills such as cover design, copyediting, typesetting, proofreading, and manuscript selection, I found the level of difficulty to be trumped by my enjoyment in these tasks. Though it took time for me to acquire these skills, I was surprised to feel at home with them, too.

jaylarae14

What’s a typical shift like, a “day in the life of an intern”?
A typical shift in my last semester has been to alternate between typesetting the summer 2015 issue and reading nonfiction submissions in the queue over a period of three hours, three times per week. A typical shift for me prior to this semester had been getting cozy at the computer, poring over nonfiction submissions, searching for a fitting essay for Colorado Review, while occasionally talking to Stephanie about the mysterious world of literary journals and publishing.

Where will we find you in five years?
You might find me in a similar position–sitting at a computer–but working for a literary journal that I’ve moved up the totem pole in, making my way to the top to be an editor.

How do you think this internship will help you in the future?
This internship has provided me with the skills I need to get the kind of work I want, so I’d say it has given me a perfect starting point! Also, having worked with a nationally renowned literary mag while I was a grad student is always something I can tell people and be proud of.

jaylarae10

What advice do you have for students who want to apply, do the internship?
Go in with an open mind and learn everything you possibly can while you’re there!

Favorite CLP memory?
I have many, but as Stephanie was putting the final touches on her cover design for Supplice by T. Zachary Cotler, Colorado Prize for Poetry winner 2014, Drew Webster, the managing editor, and I were asked how it looked. We talked about balancing, consistency, and where the image had come from and why. It was a simple conversation about cover design, but it probably taught me the most, and it made me feel like a large part of the process. I was also the proofreader on Supplice, so I saw the final product before print, in addition to the cover. It was pretty amazing to see both sides of the process.


Considering doing an internship in the fall? As the spring semester winds down it can difficult to think about anything but finishing up course work, completing finals, and the promise of summer break. Even so, students may find themselves considering internships for the fall semester. The Center for Literary Publishing (CLP) Internship Program is one option for graduate students. CLP interns serve as first and second readers for the nearly nine thousand manuscripts of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction that Colorado Review receives every year. Interns also have opportunities to copyedit, proofread, and typeset; learn about book & magazine design, production, and management; gain proficiency in current industry software (InDesign, PhotoShop, Illustrator, FileMaker, WordPress, and Submittable); participate in social media campaigns; and assist in grantwriting.

Find out more about this internship.

Tags: , ,

Melissa Hohl
MFA English, Creative Writing: Poetry, 2nd year

melissahohl02

Melissa at Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, December 2014

 

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a lover, a fighter, and a Californian.

How did you find out about the internship at the CLP?
When I applied to CSU’s Poetry MFA, I scoured the department’s website for and spoke to people already here about internship opportunities. A combination of the Internet and current students lead me to the CLP.

melissa

Why did you apply?
During my undergraduate years at San Francisco State University, I interned at Small Press Distribution in Berkeley. There I fell in love with small presses, and thus became interested in learning more about publishing. When I discovered the internship opportunity with the CLP, I jumped on it.

What did you expect before you started?
Looking back, I anticipated reading a lot of poetry from the queue, though I did not spend much time thinking about what an MFA, a graduate teaching assistantship, or an internship at a literary magazine might actually entail (there are pros and cons to this approach) until I physically arrived here at CSU in August of 2013, a mere three months after graduating college.

How has it surprised you?
Before beginning the internship, I did not know the extent to which we, the interns, are a part of the production of the magazine; we proofread, copyedit, typeset, and design the covers for the magazine as well as most all of the books we publish. I am continually surprised by and appreciative of how much trust Stephanie puts in us.

drewandmelissa03

Melissa with Colorado Review Managing Editor Drew Webster

 

What’s a typical shift like, a “day in the life of an intern”?
The first thing I do when I walk in the door is ask Stephanie or Drew if there is any work for me to do besides reading from the queue. Sometimes there is other work, such as today: I‘m writing abstracts and coming up with keywords for poems from our summer issue, poems that will be posted on Project MUSE.

Where will we find you in five years?
Hopefully, you’ll find me back on the West Coast, probably in Portland, definitely writing, definitely reading, and maybe teaching or perhaps working for a small press or literary magazine.

melissahohl

Melissa at the Louvre, Paris, December 2014

 

How do you think this internship will help you in the future?
Interning at the CLP for two years has already equipped me with many skills that are necessary for running a small press or literary magazine. For instance, I recently learned how to use InDesign to make a cover for The Verging Cities, Natalie Scenters-Zapico’s book of poems. InDesign is crucial for the publishing industry and is also helpful in other professional settings outside the literary community. Further skills I’ve acquired or sharpened at the CLP include an understanding of how to proofread, copyedit, and typeset an entire manuscript or a single poem; all of this comes with meeting deadlines. Finally, this internship has helped me become a better reader of poems.

melissa05

What advice do you have for students who want to apply, do the internship?
Be prepared to learn the ropes and make a few mistakes while you’re at it. Know that if you make a mistake, it’s not the end of the world; we are a teaching press, and we have your back.

Favorite CLP memory?
My favorite CLP memory is when I was given the opportunity to design the covers for the Fall/Winter 2014 issue of the magazine and for The Verging Cities. Then, at AWP, I met Natalie Scenters-Zapico—she had a book signing at the CLP table—and she told me how much she liked the cover I had designed. I was super proud. And we sold out of her book!

melissa06


Considering doing an internship in the fall? As the spring semester winds down it can difficult to think about anything but finishing up course work, completing finals, and the promise of summer break. Even so, students may find themselves considering internships for the fall semester. The Center for Literary Publishing (CLP) Internship Program is one option for graduate students. CLP interns serve as first and second readers for the nearly nine thousand manuscripts of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction that Colorado Review receives every year. Interns also have opportunities to copyedit, proofread, and typeset; learn about book & magazine design, production, and management; gain proficiency in current industry software (InDesign, PhotoShop, Illustrator, FileMaker, WordPress, and Submittable); participate in social media campaigns; and assist in grantwriting.

Find out more about this internship.

Tags: , , ,

Drew Webster
MFA Creative Writing: Poetry, 3rd year

drew03

What brought you to CSU?

My decision to attend CSU’s MFA had a couple of motivations. I’m originally from Colorado, but I was living in Oregon when I decided to apply to MFA programs. I really wanted to make poetry the focus of my life, and I realized that I wasn’t really doing that on my own. So, that’s generally why I wanted to come here. More specifically, though, when I started researching the poets on faculty at CSU, I was blown away by their work. It was clear to me that these were people doing good, ethical work. So, studying at CSU represents a turning—a turn toward what is most important to me: making poems, trying to think with poetry; but it also represents a returning—a return home, a return to values that I seemed to have lost along the way.

Favorite class, teacher, project?

That’s a really tough question to answer. I’ve hands-down loved the courses I’ve taken here. If I’m being honest though, it’s all about the workshop for me—three hours a week when individual thinkers come together solely to discuss poetry. That’s not exactly easy to come by, and I’ve really cherished that opportunity. Dan, Sasha, and Matthew are tremendous writers and readers (I wasn’t able to participate in Camille’s workshop, but I’ve been hearing really great things). Subtly, a ground has been laid that I can stand on. Where I go with poetry tends to be recursive, but now I’m walking in circles, rather than spinning in an undefined space, and that’s comforting in a way. I can’t stress enough the respect that I have for the workshop facilitators. The same goes for my peers. I expected the discourse to be rigorous, but I could never have expected the degree to which it is. And the trust we put in each other! That rigorousness, that trust, a lot of that falls on the shoulders of the workshop facilitators, but it takes a group with a common goal to develop that trusting, thoughtful relationship. My work, my thinking would never have reached the modest place it’s now at without the workshop, and I’m really grateful for that.

drew

What are you reading/writing? What are you currently working on?

Well, my head’s been pretty well buried in poetry for the last three years, and I’m still doing that, but I’ve also been trying to let my brain relax a little. I recently read this fantastic novel called The Weirdness, by Jeremy P. Bushnell. It was completely escapist, and I loved it. More seriously, though, I think the last thing I read was from the new collected poetry of Frank Stanford. It’s a really beautiful book.

As for writing, I’ve got a few poems here and there that are in various stages of done-ness. It’s been a lot of revising lately. Or, connecting is maybe a better term for it. I’m trying to write poems to connect my other poems together, to make them feel less discrete, less hermetically sealed. Here, the recursive nature of my work surfaces again. Each time I return to my work, I have to remember what I was thinking, and the poems sort of engage in that remembering process, so that they’re like mnemonic devices that I can return to—to remember what I used to know.

Favorite book, and/or author?

Anyone who knows me, even peripherally, knows what the answer to this is. I’ve got something of an obsession with the poet Jack Spicer. His collected work, My Vocabulary Did This to Me, is really, really important to me. I find myself returning often to that and a book of his lectures called The House that Jack Built. His work also lays the groundwork for my own.

What advice do you have for current English students?

Don’t be afraid to say no. This world will tear you in a million directions if you let it, and at some point you have to say, “No, I can’t do that.” Don’t get me wrong—do what you do at a high level, just know your limits.

What advice do you have for prospective students?

Seriously consider doing an internship at the CLP. I cannot overstate how important it has been to my understanding of the publishing field—not only with respect to the production end of it, but how I fit into it as a writer.

Colorado Review Managing Editor Drew Webster, with Center for Literary Publishing interns Melissa Hohl and Neil FitzPatrick at AWP

Colorado Review Managing Editor Drew Webster, with Center for Literary Publishing interns Melissa Hohl and Neil FitzPatrick at AWP


Why is it important to study the humanities?

An understanding of the human experience means approaching it from different perspectives. The role of the humanities in this should be obvious, human is in the root word. With other disciplines, the emphasis is on the knowledge itself, and how that knowledge can be utilized, and those are important concerns.The disciplines found in the humanities, however, have another kind of value. Actually, they can be in valued in many of different way, but what I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is turning. The humanities turn toward the human. Why do we perceive the way that we do? How do we create our own perception of ourselves, our social reality, and the reality beyond that? The answers to these questions are often times ambiguous, leading to more questions; and often times they are ethical. Not whether we can apply knowledge, but what is the responsible way to do so? We are always living in tumultuous times. Now is no different. What has been happening in Ferguson, what is happening right now in Baltimore, these are human issues. We have to turn toward them, not away from them—the humanities help us understand the ways in which that turning can remain open.


You are the Managing Editor at Colorado Review – tell us a bit about that work.

My work at the CLP over the last school year has been really fulfilling—I’ve learned so much from Stephanie G’Schwind, our editor. A lot of the stuff I do is detail oriented. Stephanie has been really great about handing me the reins for the production of the poetry in Colorado Review. I’ve been tasked with drawing up and tracking contracts; overseeing the typesetting, copyediting, and proofreading of the poetry; I communicate with the authors about their contracts and, when it comes time, about the proofs for their work. That work has been really awesome and fulfilling. There’s also a lot of work that isn’t exactly exciting, but someone has to do it. I log all of our paper submissions into a database to keep track of them. It means opening and organizing a lot of mail. Don’t get me wrong, I learn a lot from this too. There is a certain kind of joy in the work that isn’t “exciting.” That work that no one else wants to do, I don’t mind it. I like the repetition of it. It’s cyclical. I also handle a lot of the general email for the CLP. Lots of people have questions about our submission guidelines, things like that, and I’m usually the one who directs them to a resource that’ll answer their questions or troubleshoots with them a way to resolve their issue. In a lot of ways, I have to be the face of the CLP and CR for people. That’s a lot of responsibility, and I take it pretty seriously. A lot of what it means to be an editor, I’m learning, is finding a gracious way to say “No.” I find myself, humbly as I can, saying, “No” a lot. Stephanie has been incredibly patient with me in this regard. I had her looking over a lot of my emails at first—to make sure I was conveying the right tone. After a while, I picked it up, and I think I’m doing a pretty good job with that now. So, really, it’s managing the day-to-day. Something is always in progress at the CLP, and I’m here to assist Stephanie with the processes that she has established and/or maintained, so that we can continue to put out good quality literary work.

drew08

What’s the best thing about the Center for Literary Publishing? What do you want to make sure people know about it?

The opportunities afforded through it. Of course, we’re always reading through our queue of unsolicited submissions (I really try to shy away from the term “slush pile,” there’s something unkind about that term, I think), but there’s a lot of other stuff going on that translates as valuable experience for interns. There’s always the typesetting, copyediting, proofreading, and cover design for CR. We also run the Colorado Prize for poetry every year. The manuscripts are read and chosen by outside judges (this year Laura Kasischke—she chose Stephanie Lenox’s The Business, so look for that next year), but the production of the book happens entirely in-house. So, again, that’s going to be typesetting, copyediting, proofreading, and cover design. We also have the Mountain West Poetry series. That series is curated by Stephanie and poetry editor Donald Revell. It showcases work from poets who reside in the mountain west. We put out two books a year with that series, and we need copyeditors, etc. for that as well. That kind of experience, working as a copyeditor for example, is really valuable, and not just in the publishing field. Any institution that has copy, print or online, is going to have an editor for that copy. Working at the CLP means, a lot of times, developing the tools necessary for that kind of work. An intern who has worked at the CLP for at least four semesters is going to be a viable candidate for a lot of work on the other side of their degree, and that’s really awesome.

What would you like to say to prospective CLP interns?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and volunteer yourself. Stephanie has conceived of the CLP as a teaching press. What this means is that we’re not only interested in publishing great literary writing (though, that is pretty important), we want to teach interns what that means, and teach them skills that they can carry over to potential careers. There are always opportunities available, just ask what you can do.

Drew with CLP intern Melissa Hohl

Drew with CLP intern Melissa Hohl

Favorite CLP memory?

At the beginning of every year, we have a staff meeting. There’s an ice breaker and some pizza, then we talk about logistics of the CLP for the coming year. Well, the ice breaker this year was “What was your worst job.” All I remember is trying to choke down a piece of pizza while Whitney Dean (a nonfiction writer who graduated in 2014) told us about how she used to have to cremate dogs for animal control. I got the pizza down, but I…I was never the same.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I’m wary of the oracular procedure, but if I’m practicing what I’m preaching here, that’d be something with these skills that I’ve been trying to foster. What that’s going to look like right now, I have no idea. Who knows though, maybe I’ll retire.


Considering doing an internship in the fall? As the spring semester winds down it can difficult to think about anything but finishing up course work, completing finals, and the promise of summer break. Even so, students may find themselves considering internships for the fall semester. The Center for Literary Publishing (CLP) Internship Program is one option for graduate students. CLP interns serve as first and second readers for the nearly nine thousand manuscripts of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction that Colorado Review receives every year. Interns also have opportunities to copyedit, proofread, and typeset; learn about book & magazine design, production, and management; gain proficiency in current industry software (InDesign, PhotoShop, Illustrator, FileMaker, WordPress, and Submittable); participate in social media campaigns; and assist in grantwriting.

Find out more about this internship.

Tags: ,

Need to Recharge, Renew, Re-energize? Perhaps a Conference Is the Answer.
By Marie Turner
MFA English: Fiction

Colorado Review Managing Editor Drew Webster, with Center for Literary Publishing interns Melissa Hohl and Neil FitzPatrick at AWP

Colorado Review Managing Editor Drew Webster, with Center for Literary Publishing interns Melissa Hohl and Neil FitzPatrick at AWP

CLP Intern Bryan Johnson at AWP

CLP Intern Bryan Johnson at AWP

There is a line in Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring that sticks with me: “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.” I’ve always loved this analogy, and it rather astutely describes how I have been feeling lately. Not that I have anyone but myself to blame; I have said yes to too much lately, put too many disparate items on my plate, and, I have to admit, started to feel the strain. Months ago, I was generously offered supplemental travel funding from the Center for Literary Publishing, the English Department, the College of Liberal Arts, and the Office of the Vice President of Research, so I booked my trip to the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference. At the time I thought: “Sure, why not? New experiences ho!” But, not surprisingly, when the conference finally rolled around, I felt more like: “Really, self? You thought this would be a good week to pack up and leave two jobs and grad school behind? Nice planning.” Instead of being excited about it, I felt tired, struggling to remember why I’d said yes to this (and, honestly, everything else—why, again, had I thought any of this was a good idea?).

Only on the plane, loading my AWP phone app with events, did I begin to understand the magnitude of the conference. More than 12,000 people go to this conference and have their choice of 550 readings, panels, and lectures to attend. The book fair features more than 800 tables representing presses, journals, and literary organizations. I don’t know why I’d assumed that it would be any less daunting than many of the scientific meetings I have attended, perhaps because my initial impression of the humanities crowd is that they are a kinder, more supportive, less masochistic bunch than the scientists. They wouldn’t drown themselves in hundreds of sessions and thousands of people all struggling to achieve similar goals. They just wouldn’t. My revised theory? We are all, every one of us, a little bit masochistic.

On all three days, in almost every time slot I double and sometimes triple booked myself. Everything just looked so damned interesting, and unlike the science circuses—where I have learned to scan session titles for keywords that tip me off to what may be painfully unnecessary to me or even more painfully over my head—at AWP I was just a doe-eyed newbie, game for and ready to say yes to anything. Publishing? Yes! Craft talks? Yes! Nerd novels? Yes! Reading and conversation with an author whose work I have worshipped for decades? Oh my god, yes! Bring it on! Are you sensing a pattern with me? This, in case you are curious, may be the mechanism by which a person comes to feel like butter scraped over too much bread.

I crammed in a ton, and much of it was great. I learned a lot, which, since I know almost nothing about the writing community and surrounding industry, wasn’t hard to do. Of course, as with any enormous production like this, there is great variation in the quality of talks. There were the ultra-prepared and those who obviously felt they could rely on their improvisational skills and charm. While the latter types were occasionally quite engaging, it was the exception. (Note to all of us: Unless you are exceptionally skilled at associative speaking, or extremely practiced in your subject matter, don’t assume that just because you have a train of thought that everyone else is on board.) Aside from the occasional opaque ramble, what I loved was that I found almost everything to be very accessible. Even in areas where I had next to no knowledge, the talks were straightforward, welcoming, and casual. This was definitely different from experiences I have had walking out of certain science sessions at meetings, where at day’s end I often feel like whatever intelligence I might have had has been crushed underneath someone’s boot heel. Not so at AWP. There, I left almost every talk feeling encouraged.

Strangely, my favorite of all the sessions I attended also brought out the most mixed and intense feelings I had at any AWP event. It was a panel called “Creative Writing as an Agent of Change” and featured speakers who were using writing and the teaching of writing to facilitate social improvements in underprivileged and marginalized groups. This was the only slot in three days that I didn’t double book. Seeing the title in the program lifted me out of my tiredness and reminded me why I had thought it would be a good idea, at thirty-seven, to go back to graduate school and try to fit that in with everything else that I do. It is because I believe that change can occur through nuanced and thoughtful communication and that writing is one way to give the voiceless a voice. And the session was amazing. One twenty-four-year-old woman spoke about the work she does teaching creative writing to poor children of minority groups, and her enthusiasm was so rich and earnest that I cried right there. I felt heartened. What was less heartening about this session, however, is that almost no one came. While I had to arrive early or claw my way into multiple craft talks, where people lined the walls and sat on the floor, here there were (I counted) only twenty people in the room. I left feeling a mixture of love, inspiration, sadness, and, yes, a little bit of anger too. Why the discrepancy in numbers?

In the days since the conference, I have thought about this experience again and again and am still not sure I understand it. Full disclosure: I began different draft of a blog post that focused exclusively on this session, and when I read back over it sounded so soap-boxy and self-righteous that I felt a little ashamed of myself and decided to refocus. But leaving it out entirely didn’t feel right either, didn’t do justice to what the conference was like and, maybe more to the point, what it did for me. Because, you see, what it did was renew me. It reminded me why I keep saying yes even when I am tired and frustrated and overcommitted. It reminded me why I am here. I believe writing makes change. Sometimes it feels like we have to choose: do good or make art. Or do only art that also does good. Honestly, I don’t think this is the case. But I do know this: doing good with our art also re-energizes it, makes it new and more complex. I went to AWP feeling like nearly dry toast, but I came back with butter. And maybe I even now know where to get the jam.

Tags: , , ,

Considering doing an internship in the fall? As the spring semester winds down it can difficult to think about anything but finishing up course work, completing finals, and the promise of summer break. Even so, students may find themselves considering internships for the fall semester. The Center for Literary Publishing (CLP) Internship Program is one option for graduate students. CLP interns serve as first and second readers for the nearly nine thousand manuscripts of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction that Colorado Review receives every year. Interns also have opportunities to copyedit, proofread, and typeset; learn about book & magazine design, production, and management; gain proficiency in current industry software (InDesign, PhotoShop, Illustrator, FileMaker, WordPress, and Submittable); participate in social media campaigns; and assist in grantwriting.

logoCLP Director Stephanie G’Schwind recently answered a few questions for us about the CLP internship. Established in 1992 and housed in the English Department at Colorado State University, home of Colorado Review, the Colorado Prize for Poetry, the Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction, the Series in Contemporary Fiction, and Bonfire Press, the Center for Literary Publishing’s mission is two-fold: to publish contemporary short fiction, poetry, and nonfiction and to offer graduate students opportunities to learn about and participate in literary publishing through a professional internship.

Colorado State University Center for Literary Publishing Director Stephanie G'Schwind talks with an intern about a project, April 2013. Image by CSU Photography.

Colorado State University Center for Literary Publishing Director Stephanie G’Schwind talks with an intern about a project, April 2013. Image by CSU Photography.

How does one apply for an internship at the CLP? The internship is available to graduate students in any concentration in the English Department. [Learn more in this Center for Literary Publishing Internship Program brochure (PDF)].

What are the benefits of this internship? Interns will learn the basics of how publishing works: from selecting to editing, producing, and making content available in book/magazine/digital form. These skills are critical for anyone who hopes to work in the publishing field, but they are also transferrable to a number of other professions as well—particularly as workers are expected to wear multiple hats (for example, the nonprofit membership director who is also responsible for producing a digital newsletter). Interns learn to use current industry-standard software (InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, FileMaker, Submittable, and WordPress) and have the opportunity to practice their application. Writers will get behind-the-scenes experience at a literary magazine and small press; they’ll learn what makes a successful submission and, I hope, gain confidence in sending out their own work.

What can one expect from this internship? Interns can expect to read a LOT of submissions (fiction, poetry, nonfiction), to engage in discussions about writing and publishing as real issues arise in the office, to learn to love The Chicago Manual of Style, to distinguish an en dash from an em dash, to collaborate with others as they edit and design a book, to search for fresh art for the cover of the next issue of Colorado Review, to write a blog post for our website, to edit a book review, to read the latest issue of Poets & Writers, to come to understand Colorado Review’s place in the larger literary landscape.

What advice do you have for a graduate student wanting to apply, wanting to do an internship with the CLP? Spend some time on our website, read some of the content we’ve posted online, and get a sense of what we’re about, then get in touch with me if you want to be part of what we’re doing.


Coming next week: We’ll hear more about this internship and the CLP from some of the current CLP interns and Colorado Review Managing Editor Drew Webster.

Tags: , ,

To Convene, to Confer: On Attending the 2015 AWP Conference in Minneapolis
By Katie Naughton

 

“How was AWP?” a friend asked when I returned from Minneapolis.

I had just spent four days at creative writing’s largest academic conference, hosted by the Association of Writers and Writing Programs in a different city each spring. It assembles more than 12,000 attendees; 2,000 presenters; and 700 presses, journals, and literary organizations to come together for about 550 readings, panels, and lectures, and for one very, very big book fair. Generous funding from the Department of English, the Dean of Liberal Arts, the Office of the Vice President for Research, and the Center for Literary Publishing (Colorado State’s own literary press) made it possible for me and eleven other CLP graduate student interns to be among those 12,000, attending panels and readings and running the CLP’s table at the book fair[1].

Colorado Review Managing Editor Drew Webster, with Center for Literary Publishing interns Melissa Hohl and Neil FitzPatrick at AWP

Colorado Review Managing Editor Drew Webster, with Center for Literary Publishing interns Melissa Hohl and Neil FitzPatrick at AWP

CLP Intern Bryan Johnson at AWP

CLP Intern Bryan Johnson at AWP

After waking up at seven the first rainy morning of the conference for a shift volunteering at registration (I handed out probably thousands of pounds of conference schedules stuffed into hundreds of AWP’s iconic tote bags), I entered into the immersive three-day experience at the Minneapolis Convention Center (connected to one’s hotel by a labyrinth of second-story corridors known as a skyway) and attended a panel at which Cal Bedient, Cole Swensen, and Eleni Sikelianos gave a brilliant overview of the history of the lyric and the experimental poem and its capabilities, its ethical responsibilities. At another panel, Dawn Lundy Martin, Sarah Fox, and Joseph Lace thought about the links between activism and poetry in a discussion that shared many surprising overlaps with the panel on the experimental lyric. I heard some long-time favorites Anne Carson and Forrest Gander read for the first time, and in the process was completely blindsided by the work of some poets I hadn’t known before: Claudia Rankine, Fred Moten, and T. C. Tolbert.

I was also able to introduce myself to an editor whose journal I admire, who encouraged me to submit some of my own work, and to meet the editor who had just chosen a friend’s story for publication and for a small fellowship.  At the book fair, I bought the first book of an old friend I used to sit with in a Brooklyn loft among a group of very young poets drinking whiskey and talking through poems. I met up with former classmates who have gradated from CSU and moved on to new cities and new studies; I accidentally ran into the poet who taught me as an undergraduate and was able to remind her of a poem I had written as homework in a literature class as an eighteen-year-old, on which she had made a quick note of encouragement—“you should probably keep writing poems”—the first such note I had ever received.

Despite or perhaps because of all this, though, in my post-conference exhaustion the best answer I could give to my friend’s question about the conference was “I think I’m doing better this year than last year.” What I meant was that it feels like AWP is, as much as anything, a kind of test, the externalization and magnification of an inner proving ground. I had the sense that, between years one and two of my MFA program, I had learned some things about poetry—where my interests lie and who I want to be as a writer—that made the conference less unnerving than it had been the previous year.

Numbers aren’t necessarily our strength as writers, but it seems evident that 12,000 is a lot of writers and 550 is a lot of events to fit into a period of about 72 hours. I thought maybe as a way to wrap my head around these numbers, to get a sense of what we do when we spend time in this kind of assembly, and to understand what I mean by AWP being a kind of test, I might think about some words, specifically convention and conference, convene and confer, because when I don’t quite know what I mean, I often find it helpful to ask the words what meanings they carry with them.

Both from the Latin, says the Oxford English Dictionary, con-, “together,” ferre, to bring, to bear; venir, as in “to come.” Conferre, from which we get confer and conference, “to bring together, to collect, gather, contribute, connect, join, consult together, bring together for joint examination, compare.” Convenire, from which we get convene and convention, “to come together, assemble, unite, agree, suit, fit, befit.” Together, we come, we bring, we bear.

With convene and convention come “a common purpose,” “a collective body,” “united action,” “to harmonize, to fit together.” And “important matters, ecclesiastical, political, or social,” “accepted usage, standard of behavior, method of artistic treatment,” “accepted usage become artificial and formal,” “the action of summoning before a judge.”

Conference and confer bear with them “to converse […] now always on an important subject or some stated question,” “to take counsel,” “a formal meeting.” And also “‘witches, that pretended conference with the dead,[2]’” “to put the sense together, construe,” and “to give, grant, bestow, as a grace, or the act of a qualified superior.”

We come, we bring, we bear, together. These words reach after a sense of the positive aspect community: the act of occupying a common purpose, a collective body, a united action; the act of contributing something tangible, as a grace, when we arrive; the act of putting the sense together as something bigger and truer than it could be as separate senses existing individually.

The words aren’t simply positive, though. It is as if they contain a Janus face, this positive aspect pressed right up against, inseparably, a negative aspect: a hidden and inherent sense of hierarchy, a judge that may summon us, a qualified superior whose grace we must court, an unnamed authority laying claim to what can be called acceptable and important. This authority requires that we consider the right questions, engage in this act of community with some respectable formality, with the possibility of violence in fit if the pieces aren’t cut to harmonize.

Perhaps it is this Janus face that makes community something of a site of anxiety for me. It seems there is the possibility both of beneficent influence and of destruction. It seems that community has to be approached with some care.


This might be partially because, on one hand, the act of writing, of writing lyric poetry perhaps especially, seems to require an almost obsessive attention to a private logic— that which I know about the world because when I shut out the voices of conventional explanations and listen as truly as possible, it is what I hear.

But on the other hand, poetry also hopes to extend past the limitations of the private self, the lyric I. It hopes both to reach readers who might hear in the poem something like what the poet him or herself hears, and to engage in a poetic work that extends beyond the concerns of the self in isolation, that addresses a lyric you, that does the work of building community, that does the work the community needs it to do.


In my experience, it is always difficult to strike a balance between reaching in and reaching out, of opening up the private logic to the consideration of matters beyond the self, but of staying true to what that self is truly hearing. A convention like AWP challenges that balance by adding to it the pressure of presence of the community. This pressure is benevolent—it asks our poems to stand up to the responsibility of engaging beyond our own experience, it listens to what we hear, it speaks to us what it knows, it magnifies our actions by unifying them with its own. This pressure is destructive—it stands as an authority and judge, asks us to listen not for what we know but for praise, to work not for the poem but for recognition.

What is the test, then, of convening, of the conference? To come from your solitary work, your small communities in your small cities or towns, and to bring with you . . . what? To bring with you your sense, your grace. To allow yourself to be summoned before the judge, the community, its two faces exhilarating and horrifying. To ask to hear one poem and to hear instead another. To look for one community and to find instead another. To hear a voice that does not fit and not to do violence to it. To, in your exhaustion sometime around hour 56, shed, if just for a moment, whatever BS you’ve been carrying around about being accepted or acceptable, to look at yourself and try to remember what must remain important to you, to consider what in you has become artificial and formal. To decide that, for a poem, the formal must also conference with the dead, as a witch, as important ecclesiastical matters, as grace. To acknowledge the spiritual, metaphysical, ethical obligations and complications of we, together.

How do you pass? Take notes. Take counsel. Learn something. Take home the books of Claudia Rankine and Fred Moten and learn what they are teaching you about the lyric you, community that you see and community that you don’t, and the responsibility to see harder. Do your work. Bear the responsibility of community back with you to your desk, to your solitary work, your small community, your small town. Keep writing. You don’t matter. You do.

 

[1] If you’re curious about what this was like, be sure to check out all our social media posts from the weekend by following the CLP on Twitter (@Colorado_Review) and Facebook (facebook.com/coloradoreview).

[2] T. Hobbes, Leviathan i.. xii. 56 (1651)


katien

Katie Naughton is a second-year student in CSU’s Creative Writing MFA program, where she is studying poetry, teaching composition, and working as an associate editor at Colorado Review/Center for Literary Publishing. Prior to arriving at CSU, she lived in New York and in Thailand, where she taught English as a Fulbright grantee. She holds a BA in creative writing from Hamilton College and grew up in Cromwell, Connecticut. Her poetry can be found online in Lambda Literary’s Poetry Spotlight and in Underwater New York.

Tags: , , ,

Colorado Review Spring 2015 issue, cover design by Abby Kerstetter

Colorado Review Spring 2015 issue, to be published in March. Cover design by Abby Kerstetter

The Center for Literary Publishing has received matching funds from the Vice President of Research, the College of Liberal Arts, and the English Department to provide travel funding for twelve CLP interns — Jayla Rae Ardelean, Kristin George Bagdanov, Cedar Brant, Neil FitzPatrick, Melissa Hohl, Anitra Ingham, Bryan Johnson, Andrew Mangan, John McDonough, Katie Naughton, Marie Turner, and Drew Webster — to attend the annual Association of Writers and Writing Programs in Minneapolis, April 9-11, 2015.

Students will represent the Center and Colorado Review in the conference exhibit hall; interact with CLP/CR authors; meet both CSU alumni and potential students; attend panels on writing, publishing, and pedagogy; and have the opportunity to attend readings by such literary icons as Louise Erdrich, Charles Baxter, T. C. Boyle, and Alice McDermott, among many others.

The Center was also awarded a $15,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for 2015. The grant will support the publication of two new titles in the Center’s Mountain West Poetry Series: The Verging Cities, by Utah poet Natalie Scenters-Zapico, and A Lamp Brighter than Foxfire, by Nevada poet Andrew S. Nicholson. Designed, typeset, and copyedited by CLP interns, the books will be published in April and November, respectively, and distributed to the trade by the University Press of Colorado. The grant additionally funds the production costs and author payments for the Spring 2015 issue of Colorado Review, to be published in March.

Cover design by Melissa Hohl

Cover design by Melissa Hohl

Cover design by Abby Kerstetter

Cover design by Abby Kerstetter

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,