Works and Days

The Reed College Peer-Reviewed Journal, Presidents Summer Fellowship

The context for my President's Summer Fellowship engages three distinct elements, which combined, will serve to inform the final goal, the production of a new, peer-reviewed journal that will engage the diverse voices of Reed’s students, faculty, and staff, spanning all departments. The elements include: To work as an intern at one of the seven internships at both literary magazines and publishing houses to which I have applied, in order to acquire the necessary skills to develop the foundation for a journal of this nature and to become well versed in the responsibilities of managing a publication. Secondly, I will conduct research at various colleges like Sarah Lawrence and Goucher College, who are already producing similar successful publications, and lastly, I will return to propose and implement my work here at Reed.

I’m sitting in a café on Lenox, between W 120th and 119th, thumbing through  the most recent issue of Poetry, looking for something. I sit here nearly every weekend, usually at the small blue table near the window lined with cacti, various lit reviews and journals splayed out in front of me. What I’m looking for exactly is hard to say. Usually I’m looking at the brick wall opposite of me while incoming customers drift in and out of my line of sight. On occasion, I allow my eye to rest on a particularly well-sculpted backside, but mostly I sit and look searchingly at the texts before me. I look for a form, a word, a clue, anything that may lend me some direction with which to go forward.

My first month in New York was an adjustment. I started work at The Paris Review two days after I moved into my third floor apartment in Harlem. Despite the company of my fellow interns, the editors, and the unending, ever flowing crates and crates of submissions, there have been few times in my life—so far—that I have felt so keenly and deeply alone. One late night walking home, after having taken the wrong train twice and carrying two armfuls of groceries, it started to rain. I looked up into the yellowy orange glow of the old sodium vapour streetlights and contemplated removing the umbrella that was tucked away in my backpack, but decided against it. I walked especially slowly, making sure to wallow thoroughly in the melancholy the night seemed to demand. I thought, “This is what it means to be an adult,” to come home, late at night, soaked-through and grocery ridden, without anyone to complain to. To put your groceries away, wash your face, resist calling your mother, and get into bed. Whether or not that night is an accurate example of what is means to be an adult, I have learned an incredible amount about myself, how I’d like to live, and how to be my own friend while spending so much time in my own company.

Since then, I’ve bought my first plant, accidently locked myself in the bathroom of an ice cream parlour in Williamsburg, met a writer I idolize, acquired a glossy collection of literary journals, and started taking a West African dance class. Thankfully, the weekends spent in various cafés and coffee shops have recently (as in yesterday) culminated in something tangible. I have finally worked out a solid concept to run with and will be collaborating with a close friend and brilliant graphic designer at Wesleyan on the publication’s aesthetic. My next steps are to write a mission statement and recruit writers by early to mid July and conclude with about 10 printed prototypes by the time I return to Portland.

Tags: psf, presidents summer fellowship, journal, student publication, literature