Intern Profile: Chris Surprenant at Modern Farmer magazine

Surprenant1Chris Surprenant (right) was an editorial assistant at Modern Farmer, based in Hudson, NY. Here is his account.

During my time at Modern Farmer, I was required to do a variety of different tasks for both their print magazine and website. I produced several transcriptions of phone interviews that ranged anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour long. I was also required to create several photo posts using materials from the Library of Congress, and conducted a phone interview that I later turned into a Question and Answer post for their website.

When I was not involved with the writing side of things, I was actively involved in administrative duties that required me to take inventory of their online store items. For this, I created a spreadsheet that included names and addresses of potential places where the magazine would be sold. While I performed a variety of different tasks, creating photo posts and transcribing were my two biggest responsibilities.

summer14I pitched our web editor three or four ideas, and he chose which one he felt would generate the most online traffic. Once I was given the go-ahead, I would spend the afternoon gathering up a collection of photos from the Library of Congress, create a document with the provided captions, and write a short blurb about the spread itself. I then uploaded the photos and captions to their website through WordPress where I would arrange them according to preset guidelines. The following week, the post would be published on a Friday afternoon. As for the transcriptions, they were a tedious but integral part of the writing process for the writers. On average, a half an hour interview could take up to two hours to transcribe without interruption.

I was able to observe how a print magazine is put together and the many steps it takes to actually create a final product. The pitching process was also interesting to observe, as I was able to see what would or would not fit into the magazine and why.

I was definitely able to see the potential of an English major in the workforce, particularly in areas that rely heavily on writing and research. English majors are trained to find answers to hard questions with all of our research papers we write. Also, knowing how to correctly form a sentence is something that is valuable in the news industry. Clarity and the conciseness are things we are taught as undergraduates in our writing, and it is overwhelmingly applicable when writing a story.

The creative muscle of an English major is also incredibly valuable. The “7 Prominent Pop Culture Pigs” post I created required me to be able to phrase their biographies in such a way that was not only humorous, but also clear and brief. These are skills that I feel can be applied to marketing, writing, editing, or research positions in the future. I’ve learned that, as an English major, it’s all about how we market ourselves. We can’t say that we just read a lot of books and wrote a lot of papers. That’s reductive. It’s elaborating on how we did those things that employers will ultimately care about.

For English majors who will eventually be doing their internships, my advice would be to write, write, and write! Modern Farmer liked that I had clips to show them to actually prove I could coherently string words together and write on variety of topics in different ways. Also, it’s a good idea to join clubs where there is a lot of collaboration. My time at The Chronicle not only gave me an outlet to write, but it also required an immense amount of teamwork. I think that those traits are valuable not only for landing an internship, but for functioning in the real world.

Frequency North Presents: Kiese Laymon!

The second event of the Frequency North season is next Thursday with author, Kiese Laymon!

Laymon will read on Thursday, October 23rd, at 7:30 p.m. in the Saint Rose Events and Athletics Center (Standish Rooms, Second Floor), 420 Western Ave., Albany. Copies of his most recent works will be available for purchase and signing.

The program is free and open to the public.

kiese-laymonKiese Laymon is a black southern writer, who earned an MFA from Indiana University and is the author of the novel, Long Division, and a collection of essays, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America.  Both of Laymon’s book are finalists for the Mississippi Award for Arts and Letters in the fiction and nonfiction categories.  Laymon is currently at work on a new novel And So On, and a memoir called 309: A Fat Black Memoir. He is an Associate Professor of English at Vassar College. Check out his website.

This event is funded in part by Poets & Writers Inc. with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

The remaining “Frequency North” schedule is as follows. All readings are free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.FrequencyNorth.com or follow on Twitter @frequencynorth:

• Thursday, November 6, 2014, 7:30 p.m. – Marc Spitz
Standish Rooms, Events and Athletics Center (Second Floor), 420 Western Ave., Albany

• Friday, December 5, 2014, 7:30 p.m. – Dave King
Neil Hellman Library, Reference Area (1st Floor), 392 Western Avenue, Albany NY 12203
Co-presented with the M.F.A. in Creative Writing

Frequency North kicks off with Chloe Caldwell!

The 2014-2015 season of Frequency North kicks of with Hudson, NY native, Chloe Caldwell!

chloecaldwell1Caldwell will read on Thursday, October 9th, at 7:30 p.m. in the Saint Rose Events and Athletics Center (Standish Rooms, Second Floor), 420 Western Ave., Albany. Copies of their most recent works will be available for purchase and signing.

The program is free and open to the public.

Chloe Caldwell is the author of the forthcoming novella Women(SF/LD Books, 2014) and the essay collection Legs Get Led Astray (Future Tense Books, 2012). She is the founder and curator of the Hudson River Loft Reading Series in Hudson, NY, and has taught Creative Writing workshops at Omega Teen Camp, The Hudson Opera House, The Independent Resource Center, and personal essay classes online through Lit Reactor.

This event is funded in part by Poets & Writers Inc. with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

The remaining “Frequency North” schedule is as follows. All readings are free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.FrequencyNorth.com or follow on Twitter @frequencynorth:

• Thursday, October 23, 2014, 7:30 p.m. – Kiese Laymon
Standish Rooms, Events and Athletics Center (Second Floor), 420 Western Ave., Albany

• Thursday, November 6, 2014, 7:30 p.m. – Marc Spitz
Standish Rooms, Events and Athletics Center (Second Floor), 420 Western Ave., Albany

• Friday, December 5, 2014, 7:30 p.m. – Dave King
Neil Hellman Library, Reference Area (1st Floor), 392 Western Avenue, Albany NY 12203
Co-presented with the M.F.A. in Creative Writing

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Announcing: The College of Saint Rose High School Essay Contest!

EssayContestFlyer 001 The English Department at The College of Saint Rose is starting an essay contest for high school juniors and seniors.  The theme for this contest in 2014-2015 is:

If you could share a meal with a fictional character, author, or filmmaker, who would this be? How has he or she affected your life?  What would you eat?  What would you discuss? 

Any high school junior or senior is welcome to submit an essay related to this topic.  Research is not required, but, if you choose to do research, make sure you give credit to your sources.  Essays will be judged on originality, depth, clarity, and correctness.

FIRST  PRIZE:  $300.00

SECOND PRIZE:  $200.00

THIRD PRIZE:  TWO AWARDS OF $50.00 EACH

LENGTH:  Between 3 and 5 pages (in 12-point type, double spaced, with 1-inch margins).  Do not include your name on the pages of the essay.

SUBMISSION:  You may send a print copy of your essay to: Dr. Catherine Cavanaugh, The College of Saint Rose, English Department, 432 Western Ave., Albany, NY 12203.  If you prefer, you may email your essay in a Word document to cavanauc@strose.edu.  Include a separate document (print or electronic) with your name, contact information, high school, the title of the essay, and the name of your English teacher.

DEADLINE:  December 3, 2014.  Winners will be notified in February 2015.  All winners and their parents and English teachers will be invited to an awards ceremony at The College of Saint Rose in Spring 2015.

QUESTIONS: Contact Dr. Catherine Cavanaugh cavanauc@astrose.edu

The College of Saint Rose (www.strose.edu) is a dynamic, comprehensive college of nearly 5,000 students. Located in the city of Albany, the heart of New York State’s Capital District, the College is a private, independent, coeducational institution with a comprehensive liberal education curriculum and progressive academic programs.  For almost 100 years, the programs at Saint Rose have included strong and continually evolving majors in English and English-Adolescence Education (www.strose.edu/english).   We have nurtured great writing for a long time and welcome applications to our English programs from high school students who care about writing, literature, drama, film, and media studies.

Meet The Majors: Part I

Meet three of our new majors here at the English Department at The College of Saint Rose! I’m happy to introduce Sean, Vincent, and Derek. Though the photo quality is shaky, their interest in English is steady and strong. Following our tradition of “Two Truths and A Lie,” here is some information from the friendly trio:

-Once had a pet Chinchilla named Master Roshi who used to steal Nutella.
-Jumped off a 50 foot cliff on a bet to get a turkey sandwich.
–Taught my history teacher how to surf in Hawaii.
–I love to spend time gardening in the summer.
–Played two varsity sports in high school.
–Grew up in the Capital Region and have lived here my whole life.
–I’m an only child.
–Broke my leg playing football.
–Used to get shots in my head as a child.

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If you missed the MA and MFA readings on Tuesday, April 30th, here’s a recap!

Matt Allegretti, “Some Girls and Other Stories”

Lauren Davis, “’We Lift the Veil': New Narrative Structure and Netflix’s Domination of the Television Industry”

Adrianna Gaeta,“Phasing Out the Linear Binary: Media Constellations of Gender Expression”

Sadie Hickman, “That Which Should Not be Known: Three Stories of the Senseless”

Monica Mitsakas, “A Case of Confession: Poems From a Blue Crayon”

Kelly Weiss, “It’s All About the Benjamins: Disability, Displacement, and Biopolitical Regulations in William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury


The first to speak was Matt Allegretti reading “Oikos” from his collection “Some Girls and Other Stories”. Matt described his writing as being structured by the ideas of minimalism and absurdism. Using his grandfather as inspiration, Matt created the character Charles Dell, an elderly man suffering from dementia at the Eden Living Complex where he begins to confuse his own life with that of Odysseus after reading The Odyssey.

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Matt Allegretti

The next reader was Lauren Davis who read from her Advanced Project titled: “’We Lift the Veil': New Narrative Structure and Netflix’s Domination of the Television Industry”. Lauren began by mentioning the origin of her idea for the project: In Drs. Middleton and Fulwiler’s class, she was required to subscribe to Netflix to which she “subsequently became addicted”. Lauren’s project focused on Netflix’s original programming, specifically House of Cards. Netflix is changing the traditional narrative techniques of television by, for example, dispensing with typical episodic clues. Lauren’s reading pointed to critical questions of a relatively new technology and its effects on both cultural and economic modes.

 

Following Lauren, Adrianna Gaeta discussed her project titled: “Phasing Out the Linear Binary: Media Constellations of Gender Expression”. Adrianna’s project stems from personal experiences facing linear and binary gender roles. Adrianna argued that, rather than simply redefining the linear and binary roles, the entire structure of gender expression must be overhauled. Rather than linear definitions for terms like gender, sex, and sexuality, Adrianna called for a constellation of gender expression. By phasing out the old binaries, a constellation of gender expression will create a culture with no need for the “gender panic” that arises from encountering an individual who does not fit into the old binaries.

 

Next to speak was Sadie Hickman reading from her collection of fiction titled, “That Which Should Not Be Known: Three Stories of the Senseless”. The stories included within the collection are “Red Queen Road”, “Majestic Cinema 16”, and “Digging for Sandman”. Sadie’s writing reflects her interest in H. P. Lovecraft’s work and the idea of “cosmic horror”. Sadie read an excerpt from “Digging for Sandman” in which a soldier named Sullivan is “encountering something not of this world – or maybe more of this world than she is”.

 

Monica Mitsakas read next from her work “A Case of Confession: Poems From a Blue Crayon”. The title of her collection stems from a photograph of herself dressed as a blue crayon for Halloween when she was young. She read five poems, “Halloween 1991”, “First of the Month”, “Backyard Business”, “Eraser Marks”, and “Yeah, We Were So Punk Rock”. Monica’s collection, including the poems that she read, creates a memoir through poems related to specific moments or memories in her life.

 

Last to speak was Kelly Weiss reading from her project “It’s All About the Benjamins: Disability, Displacement, and Biopolitical Regulations in William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury”. Kelly’s work studied the character of Benjy Compson and the depiction of his disability. In her reading, she presented a short video clip of the conditions of the Willowbrook State School in Staten Island, New York (1947-1987), which is representative of the psychiatric institution that Benjy is eventually sent to. Kelly’s historicization of disabilities at the beginning of the 20th century leads to a better understanding of the role Benjy has in the novel.


Photo credit to Jacky Kirkpatrick.

MFA Student James Summa Receives Grant

 

James SummaThe College of Saint Rose is proud to announce that one of our MFA students, James Summa, has received a Graduate Student Research Grant, which he will use to compile an anthology of World War I poetry by women. This project was inspired by work James completed in Dr. Cavanaugh’s Modernist Poetry class last fall. James has received a $500 cash stipend to assist him in his research. After this semester, James will have completed nine credits toward his MFA degree with a concentration in poetry. We had a chance to speak with James about his work and his experience at Saint Rose.

How did you become interested in WWI poetry written by women?
I love history, especially military history.  I’m drawn to the writing of people who have had such extreme experiences.  There has not been much poetry published by women about war, especially WWI, so the need was worth exploring.  Obviously, a woman’s perspective in general is essential.  Women were primarily noncombatants, but their view is invaluable and necessary for understanding the cost of this or any other war.

 

What are your goals for this project?
Compile and organize a collection of poetry by women about WWI that is as comprehensive as possible.  My intent is to include poetry in languages other than English and from all countries involved in the war.  To my knowledge this has never been done.

 

How did the Modernist Poetry class with Dr. Cavanaugh help you with this idea?
It provided me the opportunity to conceive and develop the project, as well as receive advice and encouragement from Dr. Cavanaugh.

 

Are anthologies something you have thought about working on for a while?
Not really.  It was just something I thought of for the class project.

 

Any other ideas for future projects?
Not now, but I’ll think of something.  I may consider doing similar projects for other wars.

 

Where does your inspiration come from?
Mostly my family; the past; memories; the complexity in mundane things; my own twisted mind and my perception of injustice in the world.

 

Any information you think other students would be interested in knowing?
Not everything is on the Internet or in databases.  Libraries, especially the interlibrary loan system, are great things.  An understanding of copyright law is very important.

 

Advice for students who may want to pursue a project like this?
Make sure the topic is something you enjoy and have passion for.  Don’t waste time; life is too short.  Get to work!