Posts Tagged: Interviews

IR’s Fabulous Interns

Two weeks ago, I posted a link to the first of a series of interviews I’m doing for the NPR station WFIU with one of IR’s lovely interns, Kelsey Adams. This week, I’d like to feature the rest of our awesome team!

Avery Smith is our  prize intern. Here’s what she says about her writing, her work at IR, and her studies at IU:

I write poetry in every facet of my life: in classes at IU, on my own time, and also in my work at Women Writing for (a) Change. I love writing poems to explore perception: how people perceive, how places, words, and events can be perceived on various levels, and what exists beyond the surface level of perception. I think my work has taken on a more philosophical bent due to the classes I’ve taken at IU, and in response to the work of many of my favorite poets: Kazim Ali, W.S. Merwin, Wallace Stevens, Naomi Shihab Nye. Working at IR gives me exposure to what is new in literature, and it gives me hope that people still read and care about the written word, that the written word has the power to engage and change whole lives.

Shilpa Reddy is our publicity intern. She primarily writes fiction. Of her own work, she says,

I like focusing on the small things and overlooked details in life. I love to spend time describing places I see daily, because it allows me to appreciate the space around me in new ways. I’m also interested in the way that science and literature intersect. As a student of both the sciences and humanities, I’m always looking for connections between the two, and I’m fond of authors who do the same. Writing has allowed me to realize what I really care about, and to find resolutions to problems I wouldn’t be able to solve in real life. It helps me distance myself from myself, so that I can be more honest with my life.
“IR is a hidden gem at IU,” Shilpa says. “I always wondered what goes on behind the scenes of a publication, and it’s exciting to be a part of the process.”
Emily Mullholland is our subscriptions intern. She’s not a creative writer herself, but she is a voracious reader. Here’s what she has to say:

When I was in middle school, I used to dream about being a writer. I was convinced I would have a published novel by the age of 18. Things changed, however, when I read To Kill a Mockingbird. From that point on, I began directing my attention toward the writing of others (friends, authors I enjoyed). I tweaked my dream, deciding I wanted to go into editing and publishing. Things just took off from there.

I was a fan of IR before I even knew that internships were offered here! When it comes to opportunities to gain experience in this world, IR has been the culmination of all of my work. Working at IR has convinced me that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life, if I can.

We are so lucky to have such fabulous interns here at Indiana Review. Thanks, ladies, for all that you do.

Young Writers and Workshops

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Kelsey Adams, one of IR’s wonderful interns, for south central Indiana’s NPR station, WFIU. Kelsey is an undergraduate fiction writer in her senior year at Indiana University, and she makes for an eloquent and thoughtful interview subject. (Stay tuned for a couple of follow-up talks with her in the future!)

“Here at IU is where I really began to feel as if I was a writer,” Kelsey says, and–though this didn’t make its way in to the final interview–she told me with humility and wisdom that she sees herself writing in the tradition of Lorrie Moore. What a gift, I thought, to find your writerly identity as an undergrad! A long time ago, I had a conversation with a friend that would always stay with me, a conversation about the importance of heroes. I think one of the great benefits of creative writing programs is that they expose young writers to older ones, allowing them to find their literary heroes. Creative writing workshops let us see our own writing as literature, just as we learn to read literature as if it were workshop writing. Only when we’re then able to locate our work in the vast landscape of literature that’s already out there, workshop wisdom tells us, can we take ourselves seriously as writers. (And only then, paradoxically, after we begin to take ourselves seriously, can we actually become ‘serious’ writers.)

They also teach us some serious rules. As anyone who’s been in a creative writing workshop knows, there are a handful of sayings that come up a lot: “Show, don’t tell!” “The ending has to be earned!” “Let your characters make their own choices!” The list goes on–and gets more and more specific. Of the story from which she reads excerpts in this interview, Kelsey says, “This one started [with my reacting to how] they always tell you, ‘Never write a cancer story.’ …I did it anyway.” Another thing you learn in a creative writing workshop is when to break workshop commandments. The premise of Kelsey’s “cancer story”? A woman discovers her cancer has been cured, but realizes she wishes it hadn’t been, wishes she were still sick.

On the excellent Web site Open Culture, there is a recent post recounting advice about writing from great writers: Henry Miller, Elmore Leonard, Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, George Orwell, and that poster boy for grammatical correctness, William Safire. A couple of these pieces of advice stick out as particularly hypocritical–and particularly wise. Neil Gaiman advises:

The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.

And George Orwell says,

Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

Inside IR: Meet the Editors

As you might imagine, Indiana Review‘s poetry editor is a busy, busy woman, but Cate Lycurgus takes a moment to speak in exclamation points and spread a little literary love.

Where are you from?

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and did my undergraduate degree there. I miss the sun and the ocean and the tart frozen yogurt!

Favorite issue of IR?

33.2 because it’s here! And because it was the first issue that I really remember fighting for poems. There were pieces I felt strongly about, and wanted to see them published.

Fave non-IR journals?

Too many to count! I love Crazyhorse and Pleiades and Hayden’s Ferry. I also can’t get enough of Poetry, and I look forward to it every month. Especially the “Q and A” issue in December. Hearing writers answer questions about craft and about particular poems is such a treat, and I learn more from them than many literature classes and lectures.

What/who is on your reading wishlist right now?

When they come out this spring, Todd Boss’ Pitch and Mike McGriff’s Sequence of the Night. I want to read Kimberly Johnson’s A Metaphorical God, and Juliana Spahr’s Fuck You-Aloha-I Love You. I always want to return to Rilke, to his Duino Elegies. For fiction, The Art of Fielding by Chad Harback, then so much non-fiction: Reza Aslan’s Beyond Fundamentalism, Melissa Coleman’s This Life is in Your Hands, Walter Isaacson’s Benjamin Franklin: An American Life–I want to read that to my dad.

What do you hope to see next for IR?

Previews of poems that will appear in our next issue online and maybe some new online content. While holding a journal comes first in my heart, I appreciate a tasteful website that has inspiring work so I can get a flavor of it through browsing. I want people to see what a stunning journal IR is and to subscribe!

Inside IR: Meet the Editors

This week, IR’s prized and plucky Fiction Editor Rachel Lyon, shares some of her favorite journals with unique pursuits and reminds us that we all still need to read Moby Dick.

Photo sources: Tom Neely, Vanessa Michelle, Indiana Review

Where are you from?
Brooklyn, New York.

Favorite issue of IR?
31.2, Winter 2009, because it was the first issue I saw. It’s as old as my studentship at IU, and it introduced me to the work of writers like Michael Martone and Dan Beachy-Quick, whose work I still follow. Plus, I love that wicked rabbit on the cover.

Favorite non-IR journals?
I love the Canadian journal Geist. It’s funny, Canada isn’t that far away, but reading Geist you get a real sense of a different culture. I’m also interested in journals that are dedicated to more specific projects, like Alimentum, a journal that showcases work about food, which Deb introduced me to; Memoir, which pushes the boundaries of traditional memoir; Fourth Genre, which focuses on creative nonfiction; or Camera Obscura, which has some beautiful fiction and photography.

 

What/Who is on your reading wish list right now?
I am itching for summer, when I’ll have the time to finally read Moby Dick. The short passages that I have read are stunning. I can’t wait to read it from beginning to end.

 

What do you hope to see next for IR?
I’m interested to see where we go in the next five or ten years with digital literature, interactive written work that is only available online. I think digital literature offers some really interesting possibilities, and I will be following IR long after I graduate to see how we eventually develop those ideas.

Inside IR: Meet the Editors


Welcome back to “Meet the Editors!”  This week, Jen Luebbers, our intrepid and trendsetting Associate Editor, answers a few questions for us and fills our shopping carts with new books.

Where are you from?

Columbus, Ohio.

Favorite issue of IR?

Oh no, do I really have to pick just one? Well, I guess if I have to choose, I’ll say 33.2, because a) it is filled with amazing poems and stories, and b) it is the first issue I’ve seen in each stage of production, from start to finish.

Favorite non-IR journals?

Wow, you ask hard questions. There are so many wonderful literary journals out there.  I especially love Gulf Coast, Hayden’s Ferry, Kenyon Review, Missouri Review, Ninth Letter.  For online journals, I love BlackbirdDiagram, and KR Online. But really, I feel like I could go on and on.

 

What/who is on your reading wishlist right now?

 

 

(1) Litany for the City by Ryan Teitman; (2) Self-Portrait with Crayon by Alison Benis White; (3) Among the Missing Dan Chaon; (4)  The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story by Gloria Houston (This has been my favorite Christmas story since I was young); (5) My Dearest Friend: Letters of Abigail and John Adams edited by Margaret A. Hogan and C. James Taylor; (6)  Space, in Chains by Laura Kasischke; (7) Mule by Shane McCrae; (8) Nine Acres by Nathaniel Perry

 

And two things you’re looking forward to right now?

 

This winter break? Gingerbread houses, fires in the fireplace, spending time with my family, reading books (see above), watching old movies (An Affair to Remember), and hopefully writing some poems!

 

Next year, at AWP, I am most looking forward to our joint Gulf Coast/IR Reading–it is going to be the event of the year!