Tag Archives: editorial intern

Project Bookshelf: Jenna Geisinger

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As you can see, my bookshelf isn’t much of a bookshelf at all. Right now, it is a box and three piles on the floor. I am in the process of moving to North Jersey for graduate school. This is not all of them. I have a terrible habit of leaving the books I’m currently reading out on coffee tables, counters, armchairs of couches, etc… It is this habit that made me want a bookshelf because my family will use my books as coasters (my biggest pet peeve) and leave coffee stains on covers, or just stain the entirety of Brooklyn by Colm Toibin. The pages are warped and stuck together. (My mom is trying to convince me to leave some books home, but I will lay in traffic before I leave my books with those careless people).

Some of my books are pieces of comfort—stories I love and reread over and over. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell is one of my favorites. When I transferred to Stockton University from community college, I was so nervous. What if I couldn’t do it? I found solace in Rowell’s novel, whose protagonist suffers the same social anxiety as me. Cath’s life and circumstances were very similar to my own, and even though she subsisted off of protein bars because she was too afraid to ask where the cafeteria was (100% something I would do), she made it. It was the first time I found a book where the protagonist suffered from anxiety, but the anxiety was merely a trait of the character, rather than the focus of the novel. I felt like someone understood how I thought and felt.

Other books I love because of the stories of course, but also because of the memories associated with them—as if they could be pressed into the pages like a flower. I reread them and remember who I was when I first read them, where I was when I bought them. I bought Chloe Benjamin’s The Immortalist and read most of it on a trip to Yale with my independent study, where Shilo and I explored New Haven, CT, getting lost trying to find a bookstore. We went to handle the earliest edition of Aphra Behn’s Love Letters Between a Nobleman and His Sister, which we had been helping our professor edit in terms of where to put footnotes for “The Clever College Student.” The Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri, which I bought in the second-hand bookstore we eventually found. Tenth of December by George Saunders is in the mix there, which I started reading because a professor commented that a short story I wrote reminded him of George Saunders, and then it became a comfort after I was in the hospital room when my beloved grandmother took her last rattled breaths.

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Jenna Geisinger is a fiction and creative non-fiction writer from New Jersey. She attends the MFA Professional and Creative Writing Program at William Paterson University, while working as an associate managing editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal and a reader for Philadelphia Stories, where she has been published.

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Meet Our New Editorial Intern: Jenna Geisinger

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Reading has always been an escape for me. I felt like books were places of comfort, that tucked you in and welcomed you back just where you left off. Most summers I begged my mom to drive me to our library, and I’d take out the five book maximum, then return the next week for five more books. I spent hours reading without realizing how much time had passed. I was the kid that came to school zombie-fied by a book I couldn’t put down. To me, the lives of the characters in the books were more interesting, or fulfilling, than my life.

In elementary school I started writing. Sort of. It started with my own version of A Series of Unfortunate Events. I spent three long sentences describing every aspect of Mr. Poe—the olive green of his jacket, the bristle of his mustache, the scuffed shoes, his nervous hands—I wanted to make Mr. Poe standing at the door so real. I wanted to make it as real as the book was to me. Thankfully, I learned to pare down my sentences, but the first drafts are still gunked with too many adjectives.

However, writing will never provide the same escape for me that reading has. Writing is gruesome. It’s tiring—it’s writing five drafts simultaneously of the same story because you can’t make up your mind about the narrator. It’s rereading and rearranging the same paragraph, reading it aloud to yourself and hearing where the flow hiccups, but having no clue how to smoothen it out. I love writing, but it is work, and it is too vulnerable to my doubt and criticism, as well as that of others. Reading is intimate, accepting you in whatever mental or emotional state you’re in, and lets you step into someone else’s life for a little while. It wows you with shiny sentences, and tricks you with plot structure, but it’s free of the worry and overthinking that writing welcomes. I want to give that to someone else. I want to welcome them into a story and tell them everything will be fine, everything else can wait.

In the last year or so, the pressure has been mounting about what to do after college. Senior year ticked on, the deadline inching closer, waiting for my decision. I spoke extensively with my mentor about whether I should apply to graduate school. Was it worth it? In her small office, closed in with wall-to-wall bookshelves, she asked me what I pictured myself doing. I told her that I would love to write novels, but that is impractical. That is a side project. Then I looked at her—this polished writer with an award-winning chapbook under her belt—and said that I thought I could be happy being a part of the process to create published work. My favorite part of workshop classes was editing. I loved polishing my peers’ stories, showing them what they couldn’t see. I am really excited to intern at Sundress Publications and be so close to stories.

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Jenna Geisinger is a fiction and creative non-fiction writer from New Jersey. She attends the MFA Professional and Creative Writing Program at William Paterson University, while working as an associate managing editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal and a reader for Philadelphia Stories, where she has been published.

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Meet Our New Editorial Intern: Valerie Lick

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In elementary and middle school there were three things I was practically guaranteed to have on hand: a fruit-flavored tube of lip balm, a book, and a backup book in case I finished the other one. I would read practically anything; my literary opinions weren’t refined beyond the point of “romances are gross” and “dragons are cool.” All I wanted was to be a writer. I scrawled my first “novel” in a spiral-bound notebook—it wasn’t very good. My parents said I was creative, and my teachers said I should stop daydreaming and get better at math.

I did eventually get better at math, but I never stopped daydreaming. Even in the couple years after middle school, when I went to great lengths to avoid getting caught reading, daydreaming was a creative skill that never left me. There are people and things in the world that just call for daydreaming or writing (which is just a more tangible form of daydreaming)— the old bearded pastor who tells you his small town gets smaller every year, the great blue heron flying over the county swimming pool, the abandoned barn turned canvas for spray paint. There’s a multitude of stories behind everything, and so many of them are worth imagining or even telling.

And what about my own story? I’m not sure where I’m going yet, which is why I’m exploring fields like writing, publishing, and journalism through internships. I’m also working on my BA at the University of Tennessee, where my major is English, my minor is Journalism, and my passion is literature. I’m considering a second minor in “making corny statements.”

If I want to work in the publishing industry it’s high time I demystify the publishing process for myself. That’s why I’m thrilled to work as an editorial intern at Sundress Publications this summer and fall. The raw material of stories doesn’t go through some mystical, arcane process in its journey to be published, but I know I’ll need some practical experience to bring my knowledge of the publishing industry past “here there be dragons”.

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Valerie Lick, the artist currently known as Val, loves those tall, weedy plants that are kind of like daisies except the blooms are really small. She can be found looking mean and studying literature at the University of Tennessee, where she is a rising junior. She thinks that there should be more intersections between science fiction, Appalachian folklore, and fashion journalism.

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Meet Our New Editorial Intern: Jessica Hudgins

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I started this internship at kind of a strange time. I’m living now in my grandparents’ house, where my aunt also lived until she passed away in January. I’m getting things settled and trying to figure out what I want my life to look like.  I’ve never been out of school. The house is beautiful, on 25 acres in a town called Mansfield. My grandparents built it in the seventies, and a pond. I drive a few days a week to my new part-time job in a library, reshelving books and checking out patrons. I have two dogs: a rat terrier named Mitzi, who was my grandpa’s, and Roxanne, my aunt’s Yorkie.

When I graduated with my MFA, I applied to several fellowships but didn’t get any. I went to a couple residencies, the Albee Foundation and Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and worked odd teaching jobs. I’m glad for the opportunity to do editorial work, especially with Sundress Publications, which I’ve known about and admired for a year or so.

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Jessica Hudgins is a writer currently living in Mansfield, Georgia. 

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Meet Our New Editorial Intern: Laura Villareal

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I wasn’t always a reader. I remember looking for picture books about kids with the same skin color as me but there were very few. At some point I think I internalized the idea that books weren’t for kids like me. This idea was reinforced in school when we only read books by white male writers, and when my teachers expressed doubts about my writing being my own. They believed it was “too good” for someone like me. I was detrimentally shy, but I refused to be underestimated so I continued to work hard. Looking back now I realize that those experiences had less to do with me and more to do with how the world perceives people who look like me.

My parents never stopped encouraging me to read and write. They played audiobooks in the car, gave me books they loved, and let me read whatever I wanted.  Eventually, I learned to love exploring the lives of people different from me. Each new book taught me empathy. I fell in love with the limitlessness of language and how it costs nothing to tell a story. My mom used to tell me that if I couldn’t find a book I wanted to read, then I should write it.

It wasn’t until I was in grad school at Rutgers University-Newark that I discovered a community of writers. Everything was new to me. I grew up in the middle of nowhere Texas and had limited knowledge of all things literary. The closest library near my home only housed poetry books by white poets and dead poets. It didn’t occur to me that the world of poetry continued moving and growing like the world of fiction did. That’s naive to admit, but I’ve been lucky; the kindness and generosity of my peers and teachers saved me. Their book suggestions, conversations on writing, and invitations to readings exposed me to a world I couldn’t imagine back home.

After graduation, I moved back to Texas and felt displaced. I continued reading and writing, but didn’t feel like I had a community anymore. By living in a house surrounded by fields instead of my fellow writers, I’ve learned that writing shouldn’t be done alone. I believe that it’s essential to build community, support other writers, and champion their work.

Last summer, I found a community that allowed me to do all those things at VONA/ Voices. All 9 poets who were in my workshop are brilliant and the best people I know. Every day I feel grateful for their support and friendship.  

All of this has led me here to Sundress Publications. I’m always looking for ways to participate and learn more about all the work put into presses and journals. The hard work of writers, editors, and readers at presses and literary magazines is what sustains the writing community. I’m excited to go behind the scenes as an editorial intern with Sundress Publications.

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Laura Villareal is from a small town in Texas with more cows than people. She earned an MFA from Rutgers University-Newark. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Apogee, Black Warrior Review, Breakwater Review, Cosmonauts Avenue, Freezeray, Reservoir, The Boiler, and elsewhere. She has received fellowships and scholarships from The Highlights Foundation, Key West Literary Seminar, and VONA/ Voices. She’s also a reader at Winter Tangerine.

 

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Meet our Newest Intern, Cass Hayes

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The first book I fell in love with was The Pearl by John Steinbeck. I was thirteen or so, frustrated with having to interrupt my sport-filled summer with reading for an English class I hadn’t even had yet, but when I first read Steinbeck’s lyrical prose and the simple tale of a pearl diver who finds a beautiful and expensive pearl beyond all his dreams that leads to a tragic end, I was hooked. It was miraculous—reading a book that made me forget I was being forced to read it for a class. I realized stories can be powerful. Just words put together in the magical right way can be powerful. I decided then that I wanted to be a writer and pursue the literary life.

Even though that’s the first book that made that powerful an impact on me, I’ve always been a reader fascinated by books. There are pictures of me as a little kid, probably before I could even sound out words, arranging books in the floor, rearranging them on the shelves. I just liked the way books felt in my hands, the weight of them, the weight of their words. As a kid I was in love with stories, too—whether it was my favorite movie that I watched over and over (on VHS), The Lion King, following my favorite baseball team, the Yankees, through a season, or listening to my grandparents talk about life as farmers and sharecroppers before I was born. Stories seemed to be what gave life its color. It made life way out in the country on an old farm-to-market road in North Texas, a cement plant smoking in the distance and the pastures spotted with cedar trees, a little less colorless and flat.

And the books themselves seemed to give life its dimensions. I forced my mom to read me Green Eggs n’ Ham so much that she had it memorized. I liked reading about science and history, and followed several topics of interest before I really fell in love with fiction with The Pearl. My interests ranged from zoology to astronomy to marine biology to archeology to code-breaking and forensic science. I only realized later that I was less interested in the real-world explorations of all these topics, and more interested in what the books had to say about them.

My first writing outside of school was probably songwriting—I remember scrawling down words to go along with my frantically out-of-tune strumming when I was taking guitar lessons. Songwriting for me, though, was relatively short-lived, and around ten or so I became fascinated by comic books. I created elaborate worlds filled with magical powers and superheroes, and would create short comics with these characters.

This experimentation of multimodal writing has followed me today, where I study online literary magazines and the different modes they can bring to writing as a part of my job as managing editor of the lit mag Arkana. I’m still fascinated with stories, and I’m still writing plenty of poetry and prose—for the time being relying less in my own work on pictures or music, and instead focusing on perfecting my craftsmanship with words. My pursuit of craft is what led me to the Arkansas Writers MFA Program at the University of Central Arkansas, where I am currently a student. It’s also led me to Sundress Publications, where I am excited to be interning at a place that values stories as much as I do.

Cass Hayes is a writer from Waxahachie, Texas. She attends the Arkansas Writers MFA Program at the University of Central Arkansas and works as the managing editor of the online literary journal Arkana. Her fiction and poetry appears or is forthcoming in various online and print literary journals, including Five:2:One, Work Literary Magazine, and Déraciné Magazine.

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An Interview with Katie Longofono

Katie Longofono is the author of Angeltits (Sundress Publications, 2016). Her poems traverse between intimate and breathtakingly visceral imagery, between narratives on the body and the objectification of bodies, into a lyrical testament and commentary on sex and modern-age relationships.

Longofono spoke with our editorial intern Brianna McNish to discuss her literary inspirations, her writing process, and the influences that helped create the poems in Angeltits.

Brianna McNish: What were your biggest literary inspirations while writing Angeltits, and why?

Katie Longofono: As I recall, I was reading a lot of essays and fiction at the time I was working on these poems. I had just finished my MFA, so I guess that was my rebellion from soaking in poems pretty much exclusively for two years. Specifically, I think I was re-reading Mary Reufle’s Madness, Rack, and Honey, which has some great thoughts on sentiment which stuck with me. I was (and remain) super into being overly sentimental, or obvious, on purpose, in poetry. I’m the kind of weirdo who thinks it’s fun to see how many times I can say “very” in a poem without inducing gagging (or maybe in order to). I played with that idea a lot in these poems, I think.

I also was very inspired by Plath’s journals, which most people would be able to point to immediately. Lots of anger at men, etc. You know the drill!

BM: What left me in awe about your poems was how your fixation on bodies creates beautifully visceral language. What does the body represent in your poetry, and why do you use it as a common motif in your work?

KL: I guess this might be a disappointing answer, but really the body represents… the body. These are all poems that are pretty explicitly about sex. Sometimes it’s joyful, but now that I’m looking at it, yeah, these are poems about the ways a body can be in pain, the ways a body can let itself be hurt, the ways sex reveals the bodies’ soft spots and the aftermath of that vulnerability. I’ve always been fixated on the body in my work. I’ve written ecstatic body poems in the past, but for this collection, the central idea was objectification—hence the title, Angeltits—because so often women are reduced to their bodies. Fine, dudes, you wanna play that game? I’m gonna lean into it, then. Here’s an entire book about tits. It’s not sexy. You’re welcome.

BM: How would you describe your writing process?

KL: It’s definitely a cycle—I’m not one of those people who can sit down and write every day. I have, for short bursts of time, been able to force myself into that routine, but mostly I just try to remain aware of when I feel ideas forming and allowing myself a moment to write them out. I was lucky to have a pretty low-pressure job at the time I was working on Angeltits so I could easily switch into writing mode for the amount of time it took me to at least jot something down.

BM: What’s also striking about your chapbook is how the poems develop from “Who can fault me for loving / the fault, for tonguing the crack / we crumble within?” in “Dollface” to “I am not a bird or a symbol. / I am a woman burning,” in “We Grind Ourselves Out”. The poems unravel in a linear fashion with effortless transitions from the next poem to the next, which leaves me curious about how you would describe the development of the women who inhabit these poems from “The Outline” to “[When a man says no]”?

KL: Well, people are complicated. It’s amazing and weird that a person can hold defiance, rage, and two middle fingers inside the same body that also holds shame, loneliness, and hurt. It’s really difficult to capture all of that in one poem, let alone one book, so this was my attempt at trying to get all of those angles. A big part of this series was thinking about how (personally) I often feel victimized because of my body, but not like a victim—I really resent that label. That comes out in these poems—there’s a lot of anger here, a lot being challenged because I think it’s reductive to put people into boxes.

BM: What is the best piece of advice you have received as a writer?

I’ve received a lot of helpful advice over the years, so this is hard to narrow down—but what comes to mind is early on somebody told me, at the end of the day, you get to call the shots. You can (and should) listen to advice, tips, workshopping comments, whatever, but you don’t have to use it all. It’s your writing and your process. It was really helpful for me to basically be given permission to ignore advice if I didn’t think it was coming from a useful place for my writing.

KL: If you could describe yourself as a poem, which poem would you be?

A dirty limerick. I think this question was probably meant for a specific poem but I don’t feel justified in comparing myself to any of the poems I admire!

Katie Longofono’s Angeltits is available as an e-chapbook on Sundress Publication’s website here.


Katie Longofono received her MFA in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College, where she directed the 2014 SLC Poetry Festival. She is the co-founder of Dead Rabbits Reading Series, a monthly literary salon that takes place in NYC. Her first chapbook, The Angel of Sex, was published by Dancing Girl Press in 2013. She has a chapbook forthcoming from Sundress Publications titled Angeltits. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Tinderbox Poetry Journal, South Dakota Review, Juked, Midwestern Gothic, and more. She may or may not be on Twitter. She lives in Brooklyn.

Brianna McNish is an undergraduate student studying English and literature at the University of Connecticut. Her fiction has previously appeared in or forthcoming in Literary Orphans, Juked, Unbroken, among others.

 

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Introducing Lauren Perlaki, Sundress’s Newest Editorial Intern


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As a west side transplant from Downriver, MI, I have discovered how deep my love goes for Coney Islands. And three lane highways. They just don’t have them on the west side. I’ve concluded these must be east side things.

Following my senior year of high school, I crossed the state to attend Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, MI. Now a senior at K, I am studying art history, media studies, and creative writing. In a year’s time, I hope to be pursuing my MFA in poetry.

I don’t remember when I started to write, I just know that I always have. Stories, poems, journal entries—honestly, I probably have enough journals kicking around to fill a small bookcase. In 9th grade, I had an English teacher who was the first to give me a proper introduction to poetry, and that was it—my first love (poetry, not my teacher). 

In writing, I have found success, failure, opportunity, and community. Writing, specifically poetry, has allowed me to spend a brief stint in NYC, interning with the PEN American Center and Poets House. Writing has given me the opportunity to intern with the Kalamazoo Book Art Center’s poetry reading series, and to claim the title of co-editor-in-chief of K’s literary and visual arts magazine, The Cauldron. Through the written word, I have had the privilege of getting to know so many neat people and places. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. 

Aside from reading and writing, I enjoy going for walks, writing music, and sitting down to watch a good documentary with some quality company. And coffee. I really love coffee.

As a megafan of the written word, and an advocate of literary reform, I am absolutely delighted to be working with Sundress Publications as an editorial intern. I am grateful for this opportunity, and can’t wait to see where this work will take me.

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 Lauren Perlaki is a senior at Kalamazoo College double majoring in Art History and English with an emphasis in Creative Writing. She is also pursuing a concentration in Media Studies. When she isn’t furiously working to meet a deadline, or cramming 500+ years worth of art into her noggin, she can be found singing with her a cappella group, searching for a decent cup of coffee, or going on about how great the music scene is in Kalamazoo. She is a co-editor-in-chief of Kalamazoo College’s annually published literary and visual arts magazine, The Cauldron, and a lover of modernist literature.

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Meet Our Newest Intern, Brianna McNish

IMG_0170Hi! I’m Brianna, and I’m thrilled to join the Sundress team as an Editorial Intern this fall. I recently finished my freshman year of college, and I’m eagerly awaiting to begin my sophomore year studying Shakespeare and contemporary writers at the University of Connecticut as an English major.

Although I spent most of my adolescence dabbling with poetry and novel writing, I’m a short-fiction writer at heart. Lately, my writing has been undergoing a metamorphosis; my initial love of realistic fiction recently branched out into uncharted, magical realism territory, and is filled with girls made out of lightning and an assortment of fairy tale creatures. Also, I have been studying the art of flash fiction and the importance of containing my writing into tiny, profound details.

My biggest literary inspiration is Helen Oyeyemi (particularly her latest short story anthology, What is Not Yours is Not Yours), James Baldwin, Azareen Van Der Vliet Oloomi, Ocean Vuong, Aricka Foreman, and many others. I am also in the process of compiling short-short fiction pieces that center around a postapocalyptic, fabulist world about drowning women.

When I’m not reading or writing, you can find me using chalk as a medium for my latest artwork, obsessing over Sherlock, talking about astronomy and social justice issues, as well as expressing my love for Broadway musicals.

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Brianna McNish is an undergraduate student at the University of Connecticut studying literature and film. Her fiction previously appeared in Juked, Unbroken, among others, including the 2016 longlist for Wigleaf’s Top 50 Very Short Fictions.

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Meet Our New Editorial Intern: Bridget Sellers

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Hey there!

My name is Bridget and I am a 5’6 freckled beanpole, born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee. I am currently studying to get my B.A. in English at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. After I finish my undergraduate degree I hope to get my Ph.D. in literature, travel as much of the world as I can, and finally settle down in an off-the-grid tiny house with a field of wildflowers for a lawn.

My central interest is contemporary poetry— I have this theory that poetry is the best media format for giving people a voice in the world today. I’m also very interested the post-postmodernism debate and the interaction between contemporary poetry and translation studies. I write my own poetry but so far have been too much of a wimp to submit anywhere. My work can be found at my Poetry in Progress blog. My favorite poetry anthologies I own are The Poetry of Our World: An International Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, Haikus in English: The First Hundred Years, and I Love Roses When They’re Past Their Best. At present, my favorite novel is Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage.

When not writing or reading, I love to absorb media in other formats, including cinema, animation, theatre, visual art, and video games. I also like to travel to new places, roll around in the outdoors, take deep and fulfilling naps, and pet every cat I see.

I am delighted to join Sundress as an editorial intern so I can not only give my best effort to an incredible organization but also grow and learn as part of this community.

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Bridget Sellers is a faerie child and a junior at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville majoring in English with concentrations in Literature, Creative Writing, and Technical Writing. She has also studied at the University of Urbino in Italy and The University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. A burgeoning poet and literary scholar, she published her first paper on contemporary poetry last spring  in the UT journal,
Pursuit.

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