For the spring 2014 semester, Asia Ewart was the public relations intern for the independent poetry press Flim Forum Press, as well as its monthly reading series, Yes! Poetry and Performance. This is her experience.
Flim Forum prints one book of poetry every year, so promotion is essential when a title is released. The book released during my internship was Clarity Speaks of a Crystal Sea by poet Afton Wilky. My responsibilities while working for Flim Forum included updating the Facebook page twice a day with “daily blasts” about Clarity Speaks; promoting events for past Flim Forum poets; writing up press releases for Yes! readings and sending them to various arts publications and websites like Metroland and Keep Albany Boring; setting up and attending the Yes! series at the Albany Center Gallery every month, and looking up potential independent bookstores to carry Clarity Speaks.
The latter took the most time. I had 30-plus page list of bookstores in every state in the U.S. Being a public relations intern was a giant step out of my comfort zone. Time-wise, it actually coincided with a position I took here on campus as the public relations officer for a school club.
The purpose of a public relations representative is to spread the word of whatever it is they’re representing. Posters are made, Facebook events are made, phone calls are made; you have to put yourself out there and interact with others. I’ve never been good at interacting with others; I can be shy and some interactions have pushed me to the point of anxiety. When senior year began, however, I knew that I would soon be out in the real world, so I wanted to push myself a little further.
Taking an internship that required me to work with people outside of my college community was like putting me in the real world. It wasn’t like my previous internship where I was always at the comfort of a desk indoors and away from large groups of people.I couldn’t have my shyness holding me back now. During this internship, I think I’ve benefitted from being made to interact with others, mainly at the Yes! reading series. At the readings, I’d have to meet the colleagues of my internship boss and people attending the readings, as well as those performing; as the semester went on, it became easier to hold a conversation because I was now used to these people.
I also believe working with Flim Forum has given me better confidence in connecting with others. A lot of personal issues have always had me thinking that what I did had no worth, whether it was an assignment or a piece of personal writing. When I would write up my press releases, I felt trusted and like others would hear what I had to say about Yes!. When my boss would review them, he’d compliment my writing style and how they were put together. I was also able to bring myself to speak to others at the readings. My knowledge of what I was promoting and continuous interactions with individuals strengthened my voice in person and in emails.
I’d say that internship that stands out to me the most would be the first Yes! reading I attended. It was at the end of January, at the Albany Center Gallery on Columbia Street. The entire process of getting there and setting up for something I helped spread the word about solidified my role as an intern then. My internship boss, Matthew Klane, introduced me to the tech team who would be filming the reading and some of the poets as the intern. I felt a part of something so much bigger than myself and loved that feeling. The first reading I attended contained poetry performance types I wasn’t even aware of, like visual poetry, or “vis-po.” It was very artistic and displayed in such a professional way.
Flim Forum is an independent poetry press; they don’t follow conventional rules in publishing and cater to the preferences of the poet whose work they are publishing. Poetry is what the poet makes it; a poet can choose to follow forms or make the writing style and wording their own. When Clarity Speaks was published, the words printed on each page were haphazard, placed in every corner of the page, and contained many pictures, and this is because Afton Wilky wanted it this way.
What I’ve learned from being an English major is that you can take any piece of literature and, with the proper proof, convey any ideas you have about it. I’ve read pieces closely and used theories to solidify ideas that I didn’t even know could come from a text. Poetry is what a poet makes it and literature is what a reader makes it. When I go into journalism as a career and am working on an opinion piece, I’ll have in the back of my mind the reminder that whatever information I’m working with always has the option to be my own work and be said in my own words.
Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone; you never know what you’re going to learn when you go that extra mile. Having an internship is such a rewarding experience and can have a huge effect on what you want to do in the future. Always be observant, and at the end, write down everything you’ve learned.