Matthew Blake and Gloria Breck have interned for NER throughout Spring Term, popping in on Tuesday and Thursday mornings to carry on the work of their predecessors. Here, some words from both NER-worms:
Whence did you spring?
Matthew: I grew up in Central New Jersey on five acres of land next to a sheep farm. I spent my childhood building castles in the woods, fishing with my sisters, and reading Harry Potter, The Series of Unfortunate Events, Great Illustrated Classics (for kids), and the Spiderwick Chronicles. I am a senior at Middlebury and I am so grateful to be a spring intern at NER.
Gloria: I read a book of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants variety called Bass-Ackwards and Belly-Up, which featured a member of the Middlebury ski team. And that’s how I first heard about Midd from the single-Safeway suburb of Saratoga, California.
What drew you to Vermont, and later this internship?
Matthew: Every winter, my family would pack into the car and drive up to Vermont to ski. I have also spent many Christmases with my extended family in Stowe. I always felt Vermont had a beauty and a rhythm that didn’t exist in New Jersey. When I was deciding on colleges, I wanted an intimate environment in a beautiful part of the country. I am so thankful for my four years at Middlebury and all the wonderful people I now call friends.
I first encountered NER in Davis Library during a study break. I was moved by the quality of the poetry and the fiction. I wanted to learn more about the workings of such a rich literary review.
Gloria: I sought an island of sanity away from Silicon Valley and during a physics-only semester, respectively.
What’s the life of an intern like?
Matthew: I have really enjoyed getting to know Marcy, Eli, and Carolyn. They are so much fun to work with! I have also valued our discussions with Janice Obuchowski, one of the fiction editors at NER. By reading through submissions and discussing their merits with Janice, I have learned some important lessons about how to judge the quality of a work and what standards an established review like NER has when evaluating potential content. I also work on categorizing submissions and creating posts for the website about exciting events and news updates. What have you done during time here?
Gloria: In addition to the duties detailed above, I help with poster design and distribution. Most of all I serve as a silent sponge, sopping up slush, spare copies of other revered Reviews, and the wisdom of my supervisors.
What else dictates your day-to-day?
Matthew: I am a Literary Studies major, and so most of my academic work involves reading fiction and writing essays. I am also a producer with the MOTH UP (a story-telling group on campus), the poetry columnist at the Campus, an editor on the Poetry Board of Blackbird, and a member of the Narrative Journalism Fellowship. I also enjoying participating in dance performances and volunteering at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church.
Gloria: I play the piano alone and the violin with other people, and am much more at ease performing than existing. The stuff on stage comes from the things in life, though, so I spend much of my time observing people at mealtimes. I’m happiest reading magazines in Davis’s cushy blue chairs.
What’s one sparkling detail you’ve learned about NER in your time here?
Matthew: NER receives over 9,000 submissions every year! I had no idea that so many people want their work published in NER.
Gloria: Same revelation, actually! Sifting through sand takes a discernment and discipline that’s neatly disguised, as all 9,000 submissions do pass through someone.
Also, Janice taught us to keep personal taste from interfering with detection of controlled writing. I will always remember this.
What are some favorite works of classic and contemporary literature?
Matthew: My most beloved old text is William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom. This work absolutely exploded my understanding of language and the possibilities of expression. I also loved reading Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping a few years ago. It is novel that still haunts the corridors of my memory.
Gloria: Zadie Smith and Joan Didion are my present nightstand friends! I have also been plodding through George Eliot’s Middlemarch for several years in paragraph-long, cheesecakishly-dense pieces. It’s both a sermon and a song I want to hear forever.
What is your noble and perhaps nutty dream?
Matthew: My noble dream is to be a teacher who inspires a love of reading and asking questions in my students. My nutty dream is to one day start an alternative high-school in a forest beside a lake.
Gloria: To bring a system of after-school orchestras to China, much in the manner of El Sistema (Venezuela’s monumental music education program), and have lots to write about as a result.
We return to our desks, and later the window seat, as it’s a yellow spring day. Thanks for reading!