Tag Archives: editorial intern


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As you can see, my bookshelf isn’t so much a bookshelf as it is multiple bookshelves and stacks of unplaced new buys. As a virgo sun, I am extremely anal about having everything in alphabetical order (by authors last name, of course) to achieve the feel of a real home library. However, as a gemini moon and sagittarius rising, I can never buy just one book! Because of this, I often end up purchasing books by the tens and twenties, resulting in the stacks of books haphazardly thrown on shelves while my anxiety screams about how disorganized it is as well as how long it will take to organize.

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I love collecting odd trinkets that catch my eye for whatever reason whether they be weird, interesting, or funny. Various shelves are adorned with these trinkets such as my hungry hippo, old lost photographs, glowing alien toys, and carved wooden stump. Similarly to my fascination with odd trinkets, I have a fascination with odd books. Many books found on my shelves are those found browsing places like yard sales, GoodWill, and McKay’s. Funky books like my ombré, vapor-wave copy of Hamlet, my copy of The Practical Guide to Tarot and the Runes, and a copy of Woodburning with Style add a fun flare to my collection and opportunities to read on fun things I might not have normally picked up.


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Additionally, I have many books of sentimental value that have been passed along through my grandmother, aunts, my mother, and finally I such as my collection of Steven King novels or original copy of A Night to Remember. These books have been well taken care of for many years and you can feel the love in the pages. They mean so much to me as the first novels I ever owned – though perhaps that is slightly macabre. Similarly, I have an unfortunate obsession with Franz Kafka and own every book he has published, including a completed work of texts just to be absolutely sure i’ve missed nothing! I even own a collection of aphorisms that I carry around like the world’s worst bible.

The rest of my books are miscellaneous selections left over from English and Philosophy classes taken previously at UT. As a double major in two reading and writing intensive studies, i’ve managed to amass quite the collection of novels and academic texts, all of which I still enjoy reading to this day despite the fact that they may of been attained for a simple freshman 101 course. If you asked me to pick a favorite book from my shelves, I don’t think I could do it; I simply have too many to decide!


Nik Buhler is a queer poet from middle Tennessee who attends the University of Tennessee, Knoxville where they are a senior who studies English Literature and Philosophy. When they are not at home chainsmoking, drinking beer, and playing with their adorable cats, Buhler can be found in coffee shops and libraries craving fries, furiously typing out papers due the next day, and screaming about the existentialist movements influence on modern literature.

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Project Bookshelf: Grace Prial

Admittedly, this project felt at first to me like one of the most intimate get-to-know-yous I’ve ever experienced. Nonetheless, after some hedging about it, I decided to be transparent, rather than shy away or curate something––if I’m feeling shy about it, it’s because it’s probably also one of the most effective get-to-know-yous I’ve ever experienced. I love my bookshelf. More than just the stories on the pages, it’s got the fabric of my life folded into it.

It goes something like this: 1) whatever I consider “classics,” from ancients to romantics to modernists, 2) prized possessions, 3) coursework books and contemporary lit, 4) history and political theory, and 5) art, poetry and anthologies, plus a small pile I’ve been looking at recently and can’t fit back on the shelves. Really, I could, if I took down shelf 2’s corner for photographs, art made by people I love, and treasure boxes, but that would be impossible. I need to be able to see those as much as I do my copy of Decantations, an essay collection by my paternal grandfather, my first edition copy of Timebends, Arthur Miller’s autobiography gifted to me by a college professor, the weightless yet 1,164-page complete works of Shakespeare, printed on onion paper and used by both my father and me through our respective English degrees, my high-school copy of Lolita, read so many times now it’s held together by a rubber band, a Spanish workbook from 1935 gifted to me by my maternal grandmother called El Patio de los Naranjos… And others. This prized collection is held up by a makeshift bookend: two pieces of metal unevenly welded together by my younger brother when he was still learning.

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I have no doubt that a complete investigation into this bookshelf may very well reveal everything there is to know about me. I’ve listed some of the more precious items by way of introduction, but truly every title on these shelves points to a moment in my life when I learned something profound, when my worldview changed or expanded, when I was challenged, comforted, incited, or inspired. These shelves are my journey up to this point, they reflect what I know, how I think, what I love. Now, that said, it’s time to add more.


Grace Prial is a graduate of Rutgers University–Newark with a BA in English. She lives in New Jersey and is passionate about her studies on the reflection of political movements in literature.


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Meet Our New Editorial Intern: Grace Prial

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Often when I am asked for some reason to describe my relationship to literature, I find I am met with a deep sense of urgency. Over the course of my undergraduate studies I’ve come to appreciate books––novels, stories, poetry––as incredible microcosms, reflections of a mind molded by historical and social circumstances, that set out to put something down. I believe the most powerful insights into history––the story of how we all got here––are to be found in literature, and for that reason I find myself evangelizing. I want to urge everyone I meet to read literature and to learn to understand its place in history, in order to glean its significance in relation to ourselves. When we read we may gain insight not only into individuals and communities, but the vast global forces which shape and interconnect us all. Books may be vehicles for empathy, and when more than now have we needed that?

I realized that I wanted to become involved with publishing when someone asked me what my dream career might be. I answered “I have no idea,” and then said, “Wait. No. I know.” The answer was, and is, that I would like to be a person involved in a community which fosters work that needs to be read. Sundress Publications is one such community. It is the first step on that path for me, and I could not be more grateful for my editorial internship.


Grace Prial is a graduate of Rutgers University–Newark with a BA in English. She lives in New Jersey and is passionate about her studies on the reflection of political movements in literature.

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Meet Our New Editorial Intern: Nik Buhler

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No matter how old I was, it’s always been unlikely that you’d ever find me without one, if not three or four, books with me. I would stay up well past my bed time, reveling in how sly I was, just to finish a few more chapters of the most recent story I just couldn’t put down. Even as I advanced to high school where I became more involved taking AP and dual enrollment classes, playing varsity volleyball for four years, and becoming an active member and even president of multiple organizations such as the Gay-Straight Alliance and HOSA, my love for reading never waned but instead morphed into a challenge of how many novels I could finish without neglecting my school work!

I knew from a very young age that I wanted to pursue academia in the long term. In high school, a select few of my teachers and professors further impassioned my love for reading and learning, even going as far as to help me find degree programs that would best suit me for college. Upon entering my freshman year at the University of Tennessee, I became mesmerized by all the options available to me; I wanted to learn everything there was to learn but I couldn’t help but gravitate towards text and writing based courses. Eventually, I found myself in a Philosophy course and became enamored with the subject immediately. I loved the analysis, the debate, and the thoughtful, structured writing that came along with it. However, it was still missing something for me – literature! I quickly picked up a second major in English literature where I could explore the expanses of both subjects that truly speak to me,

With the help of many wonderful professors and mentors during my time so far at UT, I have been lucky enough to encountermany positive, life-changing experiences. The people I have met here have pushed me to be the best version of myself that they are confident I can be while not letting me be limited by insecurities or anxieties. Because of this, I have been blessed with the confidence and support to reach towards dreams and goals of mine through submitting works, participating in a poet residency, seeking out well suited graduate programs, and, of course, this internship with SAFTA! I know my time here will further propel me forward towards my goals in collegiate work and studies through encouraging me to better myself and reach success beyond what I though possible.


Nik Buhler is a queer poet from middle Tennessee who attends the University of Tennessee, Knoxville where they are a senior who studies English Literature and Philosophy. When they are not at home chainsmoking, drinking beer, and playing with their adorable cats, Buhler can be found in coffee shops and libraries craving fries, furiously typing out papers due the next day, and screaming about the existentialist movements influence on modern literature.

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Project Bookshelf: Spencer Trent


My bookshelves are as much emblems of aspiration as accomplishment. They are an amalgam of things read and reread, things boldly started but never finished, and things that I imagine will make for good doorstops when I move into a new house someday with several hundred doors in need of propping open. They are gifts, fifty-cent steals, and occasionally regretted splurges. But always they surprise me in how quickly they accumulate, and I find myself again and again like a desperate Minnesotan shoveling snow in the bleak midwinter but knowing in my heart that I will never be able to keep up. It’s a wonderful feeling.


I hate to play favorites, but there are a handful I return to over and over, among whose ranks I would count the following: a pocket-sized collection of poems by Wallace Stevens, from which I have been fruitlessly trying to remove the remnants of a pesky price sticker for years; a well-thumbed copy of Robert Bresson’s Notes on the Cinematograph that I turn to when in need of some healthy bewilderment; and an indeterminately stained copy of Plastics as an Art Form which reminds me that ugly things can be pretty, too.



Spencer Trent is a writer of fiction, poetry, and film criticism living in Knoxville, TN. He graduated from the University of Tennessee with degrees in Creative Writing and American Studies, and his work was recognized with the university’s Margaret Artley Woodruff Award for creative writing as well as the Knickerbocker Award for free and experimental verse. His writing has been featured in Arts Knoxville, Blank Newspaper, and the Phoenix Literary Arts Magazine. He makes a living working in television production and, when not hunched over a keyboard, can likely be spotted by the glow of the nearest cinema screen.

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Project Bookshelf: Jenna Geisinger


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.


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


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.


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


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”.


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


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.


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

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Meet Our New Editorial Intern: Laura Villareal


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.



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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