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Students complete year-long internship with LSSU journal Border Crossing

Posted: June 6th, 2013

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Four Lake Superior State University students recently completed a year-long internship with Border Crossing, the LSSU creative writing program’s teaching journal. They are the first four students to complete the internship, which was established last fall.

The product of their work, Vol. 3 of Border Crossing, will be released this fall. The journal features fiction, nonfiction, and poetry by professional writers from all over the country, edited by LSSU students and LSSU English professors Julie Brooks Barbour, Mary McMyne, and Jillena Rose. This fall’s issue will include the photography of Melissa Connors, an Ontario resident who won this year’s cover art contest, which was judged by Barbour, McMyne, and local artist Jeanne Mannesto.

Two students worked with the fiction submissions to the journal, while two considered poetry submissions. Fiction students worked with McMyne to read and select the most well-written stories for publication “blindly” – that is, without looking at identifying information or author biographies – from submissions sent by professional writers from all over the United States and Canada. Poetry students worked with Barbour to read and select poetry using the same “blind” submissions process.

Students working on fiction included John Keller, a senior from Harbor Springs majoring in creative writing, and Janessa Stutz, a senior from Cheboygan majoring in elementary education. The students working with the issue’s poetry were Laura Gamble, Sault Ste. Marie, a math and literature major, and Adam Uhrig, Sault Ste. Marie, a sophomore majoring in literature with a minor in creative writing.


FICTION EDITORS -- LSSU student Janessa Stutz, left, Prof. Mary McMyne, center,
and student John Keller, right, discuss line edits for a selected short story in the
LSSU journal Border Crossing. (LSSU/John Shibley)

Keller, whose work has appeared in Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, Strong Verse, and Snowdrifts, says the most enjoyable aspects of the internship were getting exposure to the work of contemporary writers, and the chance to see each selected piece evolve during the editing process. His own work, he says, has grown from the experience.

“Learning to read so closely, and to really sort of dismantle a piece of writing to see what makes it work, or where problems are present, has shined a spotlight on those same sorts of issues in my own writing,” he says.

He says it was gratifying to see the level of commitment to helping students understand the process.

“I always felt like a real part of the editing team,” he said. “That is a great feeling!”

Stutz, who will graduate in 2014, says the internship really opened her eyes about what it means to be an editor.

“There is a lot involved and it is such an interesting process,” she says. “The most enjoyable aspect was being able to read so many different stories from different people and hear what some people like to write.” She also says the internship has made a great impact on her reading.

“I learned how to look at a story very closely and pick out things that make the story what it is,” she says. “This is an important skill to have because as a future teacher, I will need to look at writing and try to be able to understand what the meaning of a story is. This was a great way to learn.”


POETRY EDITORS -- LSSU student Laura Gamble, left, Prof. Julie Brooks Barbour,
center, and student Adam Uhrig, right, discuss poetry submissions to the
LSSU journal Border Crossing. (LSSU/John Shibley)

Gamble, whose poetry has appeared in Snowdrifts, says she most enjoyed the end of the year, when the board began to make final decisions and the journal actually started to come together. She says she was “star-struck” when she realized she was part of a discussion to accept the work of one of her favorite contemporary poets.

“I love the feeling of excitement you get as an editor when accepting a submission you really believe in,” she says. “I am so thankful that I got to participate in the Border Crossing internship. It's great work experience as a young writer and so helpful to see, firsthand, the editorial process for sending out work to other journals.”

Uhrig, whose poems have appeared in Greenblotter and Snowdrifts, says he was surprised by the sheer volume of good work submitted to the journal. He says the internship was useful in that it allowed for “the regular use of craft terms and vocabulary that were rarely used outside written essays. The experience of discussing the submissions was far different from a lit class or a workshop class; we considered the effectiveness of a piece rather than studying or critiquing it.”

He says his least favorite part of the process was picking the last few submissions to accept to the journal.

“It normally comes down to a few really good works and you have to start comparing minute details, much like when I find myself comparing net weight on candy bars because they are all so equally delicious.”

Five students have already signed up for next year’s Border Crossing internship, which is on LSSU’s schedule as ENGL 399. To apply, students need permission of the instructor and credit for ENGL 221, Introduction to Creative Writing. Interested students should contact Barbour about the poetry internship at jbarbour@lssu.edu and McMyne about the fiction internship at mmcmyne@lssu.edu.

Volumes 1 and 2 of Border Crossing, put out by LSSU students and faculty in 2011 and 2012, are available for sale on the journal's website and at Barnes and Noble-LSSU.

McMyne urged everyone to help support the LSSU program along with local literary and visual arts by purchasing a copy of the journal.

“Inside you’ll find great stories, beautiful poetry, and amazing work by regional artists,” she said. “Each issue is a pleasure to work on and a treat to read.” -LSSU-

CONTACT: Tom Pink, 906-635-2315, tpink@lssu.edu; John Shibley, 635-2314, jshibley@lssu.edu; Prof. Mary McMyne, 635-2327, mmcmyne@lssu.edu


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