Anna DiBenedetto, Editorial Assistant:
Anna DiBenedetto is a senior English major and Creative Writing minor from Greenwood, South Carolina. In addition to writing and working with Shenandoah, Anna enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking, running, biking, and fishing. This past summer, Anna worked with HGTV Magazine in New York City as an editorial and home intern. She hopes to continue with editorial work in magazines after she graduates this May.
Ryan Scott, Poem of the Week Editor:
Ryan Scott is a senior English major and Mass Communications minor from Birmingham, Alabama. Though his interests are many and varied, his three great loves are alternative music, classic literature, and terrible z-grade movies. As befitting a child of the Heart of Dixie, Ryan is known for liberally peppering his speech with outbursts of “Roll Tide!”
Katie Nell Taylor, Poem of the Week Editor:
Katie Nell Taylor is a senior European History major from Greenville, South Carolina. After having interned with an ad agency in Portland, Oregon this past summer, she plans to pursue a career that allows her to continue writing. She enjoys reading historical fiction and her favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird. Aside from writing and reading, her likes include anything with mint and chocolate, long runs in new places, and Marcel the Shell. Katie Nell’s study abroad experience in Austria has solidified her dream to one day travel the world.
Emily Flippo, Manuscript Editor:
Emily Flippo is a junior English and Mass Communications major from Doswell, Virginia. While she is open to most any literary genre, her guilty pleasure is chick-lit. In the future, she wants to travel the world studying culinary arts and religion and land a career as an editor in publishing. A true southerner at heart, Emily believes that there is no problem that fried food can’t fix.
Griffin Cook, Blog Editor:
Griffin Cook is a senior Economics major and Creative Writing minor from Phillipsburg, New Jersey. His favorite writers include Herman Hesse, Ernest Hemingway, and Michael Lewis. In addition to reading and writing, Griffin’s interests include sports, travelling, and binge watching television shows on Netflix. The only things he likes more than a captivating story are a good cup of coffee and his cat Abby.
Sara Korash-Schiff, Blog Editor:
Sara Korash-Schiff is a senior English and Journalism double major and Creative Writing minor from Hadley, Massachusetts. Though she can be found at the beach reading romance novels on her Nook, her literary heart lies in print with Hemingway, Vonnegut, Oates, and O’Connor. Last summer, she interned for Hachette Book Group and had the opportunity to explore her love of music in Nashville, Tennessee. Sara is busy writing an English honors thesis on heteronormativity and gender conformity in romantic fiction while simultaneously applying to MFA programs in fiction. Her ultimate dream is to write short stories and memoir while traveling the globe.
Emily Danzig, Publicity and Networking Editor:
Emily Danzig is a junior Mass Communications major and Dance minor who takes a lot of English classes. This Norcross, Georgia native enjoys very short walks on the beach, and her literary tastes are comparable to a sixty-year-old man (thanks to her father, who recommends most everything she reads). Emily spends her time away from school working as a summer camp counselor and drafting unpublished blog posts.
Cara Scott, Contest Editor:
Cara Scott is a junior English major and Creative Writing minor from Lexington, Virginia. This past summer, she worked in Italy as an au pair. Gone with the Wind, sweet tea, and Netflix binges are a few of her favorite things. While Cara’s favorite literary genre is historical fiction, she has a weak spot for the Harry Potter series (which she has read over ten times). Cara’s goal in life is to be as renowned as J.K. Rowling, but she’ll settle for owning a bookstore filled with cats.
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Elise is a senior English major and Creative Writing minor from Manhasset, New York. Her literary interests span many movements and time periods, particularly reading 17th century poetry and 20th century fiction, and writing creative nonfiction. In addition to reading and writing, she loves Sunday brunch, Bermuda, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She believes the perfect cure for any malady is a chocolate milkshake.
Grace Haynes, Editorial Assistant:
Grace Haynes is a senior English major and Creative Writing minor from Montgomery, Alabama. Her favorite books include The Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby, and A Visit From the Good Squad. In the summer of 2013, she studied abroad in Rome, Italy and hopes to continue traveling in the future. She enjoys country drives, black-and-white movies, and Alabama football.
Liza Boldrick, Submissions Editor:
Liza is a senior Business Administration major and Creative Writing minor from San Antonio, Texas. She particularly enjoys the short story genre but is learning to appreciate poetry more since beginning her internship with Shenandoah. In addition to reading and writing, Liza enjoys traveling and growing her music library. Favorite places to travel include Italy and Mexico; favorite artists include Cat Stevens and Iron & Wine.
Ryan Scott, Submissions Editor:
Ryan Scott is a senior English major and Mass Communications minor from Birmingham, Alabama. Though his interests are many and varied, his three great loves are alternative music, classic literature, and terrible z-grade movies. As befitting a child of the Heart of Dixie, Ryan is known for liberally peppering his speech with outbursts of “Roll Tide!”
Kiki Martire, Publicity & Networking Editor:
Kiki is a senior English major and Women’s and Gender studies minor from Baltimore, Maryland. She has always had a passion for literature, poetry, and travel. These passions led her to study the English Renaissance at Oxford University, where she first decided to pursue the English major. Most recently, Kiki returned in late May from five months studying abroad in the South Pacific where she conducted research on women’s political leadership in Samoa. Her favorite authors include Morrison, Hemingway, Faulkner, and Sedaris but she is open to new suggestions.
Chelsi Hewitt, Contest Editor:
Chelsi is a senior English and Geology major from Parkersburg, West Virginia. She’ll read almost anything, but is particularly fond of contemporary literature. She also enjoys writing, and is working on a creative honors thesis that will (hopefully) make a tenuous connection between her two disparate majors. Along with interning for Shenandoah, she works for Contemporary Women’s Writing as an editorial assistant.
Stephanie Rice, Snopes Blog Editor:
Stephanie Rice is a senior English major with a minor in Film and Visual Culture from Chesapeake, Ohio. She’s addicted to consuming stories of all kinds, including books, plays, movies, and TV shows. She loves to travel and hopes to one day live in Scotland, although England would be an acceptable second choice.
Anna Kathryn Barnes, Snopes Blog Editor:
Anna Kathryn is a senior English and Politics double major from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She loves literature (especially when accompanied by a hot cup of coffee). Recently, Anna Kathryn studied “Shakespeare in Performance” in Stratford-upon-Avon and London. Her favorite Shakespeare plays are Henry IV Part I and II, both of which she saw performed at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. Her favorite contemporary novel is The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini and she is a self-proclaimed Harry Potter fanatic.
Maggie Hammer, Poem of the Week Editor:
Maggie Hammer is a junior English major and a Creative Writing and Mass Communications double minor from Boston, Massachusetts. Her literary interests run the gamut: everything from your light “beach read” to the depths of Faulkner and Gilman. She enjoys Lifetime movies, obscure coffee shops, and being pleasantly surprised by conclusions. Maggie spent her summer conducting research in Washington & Lee’s Special Collections, a portion of which was dedicated to Thomas Henry Carter, a former editor of Shenandoah.
Emma Nash, Poem of the Week Editor:
Emma is a junior English major and Creative Writing minor from Atlanta, Georgia. She enjoys both reading and writing short fiction. Her favorite authors include Flannery O’Connor, C.S. Lewis, and Margaret Wise Brown. She spends most of her free time annoying people with stories about her dog.
Amanda is a senior English and Politics double major from Atlanta, Georgia. She has loved to read since she was little and really liked Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies, a book she read while working in Wyoming this summer. Amanda studied abroad in Siena, Italy last winter and loves to travel, but her favorite place is her family’s farm in Georgia. She has two sisters and a lab who is allergic to grass.
Nick is a Senior English and History major and Creative Writing minor from Alexandria, Virginia. He enjoys reading, writing, watching bad Westerns, and talking about himself in the third person. His other hobbies include hunting, hiking, metalworking, and drinking innocuous liquids out of suspicious looking brown paper bags.
Laura is a senior English major and Poverty and Human Capability minor from Madison County, Virginia. She enjoys folksy music, looks forward to winter, and has never met a dog she doesn’t love. Laura wrote her first story when she was five years old, and was notorious for writing stories during class time in elementary school when she should have been learning long division. Her favorite books include On Beauty by Zadie Smith and Sula by Toni Morrison.
Anna is an junior English major and Creative Writing minor from Greenwood, South Carolina. In addition to writing and working with Shenadoah, Anna enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking, running, biking and fishing. This past summer, Anna led biking trips for middle school students through the North East and serves as an Appalachian Adventure Pre-Orientation leader for W&L. Anna has one sister and three brothers, and she is a Georgia bulldog’s fan at heart.
Mac is a junior Business major and Creative Writing minor who has moved from Connecticut to North Carolina to Cincinnati, Ohio. He enjoys writing short stories in between – or instead of – school work and reading everything that Baudelaire and Hemingway have to offer. He speaks French, can get a taxi in Spanish, and can order coffee in Russian. Goals include traveling as much as possible and finding the perfect French fry.
Eleanor is an English major and African Studies and Creative Writing minor from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She likes rescue dogs, tea, anything written by Faulkner, and Thai food. She dislikes glitter, people who incorrectly use the different forms of “your,” and ice cream.
Christian is a junior English and Business/Accounting double major from Minneapolis, Minnesota. He enjoys music, playing golf and rugby, and spending time with his three sisters. Christian studied abroad in Paris last spring, and hopes to continue to travel in the future. His favorite authors include C.S. Lewis and Alexandre Dumas.
Bella Zuroski is a senior English and Sociology double major from Bemus Point, New York. In addition to interning for Shenandoah, she is the president of W&L’s female a cappella group JubiLee. Bella’s favorite book is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which she has read every summer since she was nine. She also has a special fondness for short stories and anything written by Frank McCourt. Her favorite place to be is at home on Chautauqua Lake. You can usually find Bella running, forcing her two younger brothers to play Mario Party with her, or listening to One Direction. Her ultimate dream is to win the cartoon caption contest in The New Yorker.
Tyler Van Riper:
Tyler is a senior English major with minors in Creative Writing and Mass Communications at Washington and Lee University. She is from Rome, Georgia. In the spring of her sophomore year, she spent a month in the west of Ireland, and last summer she received a grant that allowed her to spend time in Dublin. She is currently in the process of writing a senior honors thesis on Irish drama, focusing particularly on the works of Brian Friel and Tom Murphy.
Maddie is a senior English major from Southern California. She is one of the Publicity & Networking Editors for Shenandoah. During the summer before her junior year, she served as a Shepherd Alliance Intern at Tenacity, Inc. in Boston, and she also studied abroad in Paris last spring. Her favorite books are The Age of Innocence and A Moveable Feast.
Taylor McPherson is a senior English and Mass Communications double major with a Creative Writing minor. She is from Brunswick, Maine, and spent last semester abroad in Bath, England, where she had a spectacular time and got to read Tolkien and C.S. Lewis for class. Taylor enjoys needlepointing, going to the movies, and petting her cats, Indiana Jones and Princess Leia, when she is home. Her favorite authors include David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs.
Iva is a senior English major from Northern California with minors in Creative Writing and Women’s and Gender studies. In the spring of 2012 she spent a month studying Irish literature and culture in the Southwest of Ireland and in the fall of 2012 she spent a semester abroad in Bath, England, where she focused on women, culture, and literature in eighteenth-century England. Iva is a firm believer that the best writing comes when you least expect it, but also finds listening to the sound of rain to be the most dependable cure for writer’s block. Her favorite authors include Jane Austen and Jodi Picoult.
Miles is a senior Philosophy major and Creative Writing minor from Houston, Texas. He lived in Rio de Janeiro with his family from ages 4-7, which either completely changed his life or had no bearing on it whatsoever. He used to play tennis for Washington and Lee, but opted for the more solitary life of a Shenandoah Submissions Editor instead. Miles pretends to know Portuguese, and if he had a favorite Brazilian writer it would be Machado de Assis.
Isabella is a senior from Halifax, Virginia, majoring in English with minors in Poverty Studies and Creative Writing. She enjoys reading and writing poetry and fiction, and is currently working on her thesis, a series of short stories set in a small town in the central Appalachian region. She is looking forward to graduating and having time to read for fun again.
Sam O’Dell is a junior Computer Science and English double-major from Independence, Missouri. She loves a great many things, including family, friends, computers, and books. She is heading to San Francisco this summer for an internship where she hopes to find an intersection between her two very different majors.
Katie is a junior English major and prospective Film minor from Salem, Oregon. She shares the post of Snopes blog editor with Annie Persons. She enjoys watching movies and all things Harry Potter. She hopes to pursue a career that combines her passions for reading, writing, and film, and is planning on applying for an internship with Disney within the next year.
Chauncey Baker is a junior from Oregon majoring in English and Japanese. She enjoys reading poetry and her favorite book is Persuasion by Jane Austen. If she could live in any fictional universe it would be the Star Trek universe, though Harry Potter is a close second. Currently, she is the Poem of the Week editor for Shenandoah.
Cassie is a senior English major with a minor in Creative Writing at Washington and Lee University. She is from Incline Village, Nevada. Cassie was a Marketing/Publicity Intern at Charlesbridge Publishing this past summer. She enjoys reading science fiction and fantasy and is currently working on her Senior Capstone Research Paper. Cassie hopes to pursue a career in children’s book publicity after graduation in May 2013.
Collier Elizabeth McLeod:
Collier Elizabeth McLeod is a Washington and Lee University senior from Augusta, Georgia. The Georgia-native majors in American History and minors in Creative Writing and Mass Communications. She loves to ride her horses when she is home and loves work by author Hunter S. Thompson. She plans to attend graduate school to earn her MFA in Fiction writing.
Beth Wellford is an English major from Richmond, Virginia. She has been involved in the Shenandoah internship for two semesters now and enjoys both reading and writing creative fiction. Songwriting is another one of her recent interests. Her favorite books include The Great Gatsby, The Catcher in the Rye as well as more contemporary works such as Colum McCann’s Let The Great World Spin and Jhumpa Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth.
Kelsey Cotter, Publicity and Networking Editor:
Kelsey is a junior English major at Washington and Lee University. She is from Roanoke, Virginia. Kelsey went on the Spring Term Washington and Lee trip to Ireland with Professor Conner where she was immersed in Irish literature and culture.
Will is an English major and French minor from Fairfax, Virginia. When he’s not reading submissions to the Shenandoah, you can find Will listening to music (anything from classical to jazz to old-school hip-hop) or playing it – he’s a member of the University-Shenandoah Symphony Orchestra here at Washington & Lee.
Meg is a Sociology major and Creative Writing minor from New Orleans, Louisiana. She’s the Contest Manager for Shenandoah and is currently working on the Annual Graybeal-Gowen Poetry Contest. Meg’s favorite short story is “Where are you Going, Where Have you Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates.
Christina is an English and Politics major from Bedford, New York. This summer, she worked on a political campaign and also interned for the marketing department of a museum. Christina loves to read and recently finished The Liar’s Club, a memoir by Mary Karr.
Mike is an English major from Richmond, Virginia. As the Poem of the Week editor, he continues to deliberate on how long a week actually is. When he can put his studies on hold, and occasionally when he can’t, Mike will be found whitewater kayaking the beautiful rivers of the eastern United States.
A senior English major with a minor in creative writing, Cam Higgins hails from Raleigh, North Carolina. Though mainly interested late twenty-first century American literature, Cam harbors sympathies for O’Connor, Faulkner, Penn Warren and their Southern Modernist peers. When away from his desk, Cam enjoys hiking, bicycling, and sitting on back porches. He spent his previous summer in India.
Mary Olive Keller, a junior English major from Little Rock, Arkansas
As a Shenandoah intern, you can be sure of one thing: you’re going to meet some of the most eccentric characters you’ve ever met — whether it be in person or through their writing. Although I’ve only been here for a short time, the little knowledge and perspective I had on the literary world has expanded dramatically. In our weekly class meetings, the class gathers with Shenandoah editor R.T. Smith to discuss seemingly every component of a literary journal. So far, we’ve talked extensively about the transformation so many print journals (Shenandoah included) are making over to the web, budget restraints, commendable journals, writing and what makes a story or poem just plain good, and more. Aside from a mid-week class meeting, we’re on our own. Each intern schedules his/her own time to work in the office (three hours per week). When interns work on their own, the tasks range. However, Mr. Smith typically asks us to read and comment on submitted poems, fiction, and essays for the journal. Sometimes when I’m reading, I pause and think to myself: how is this a class? A course that requires me to read short stories and offer my opinion just doesn’t seem real. Aside from reading manuscripts, we also work on Shenandoah’s evolving website. Mr. Smith and the site designer, Jim Groom, not only welcome our opinions of the site, but act on them. As far as assignments go, interns are required to write two weekly journals (topics range), present on a print and web journal, write a book review, distribute e-mail announcements, and pick campus notice’s “poem of the week.” Other than that, a day in the life of a Shenandoah intern is pretty hard to predict.
Catherine Anderson, a senior English major from Brentwood, New Hampshire
Interning with Shenandoah this semester has been an eye-opening experience. The learning-by-doing style of this course was somewhat startling at first, when we were immediately thrust into the process of sifting through manuscripts and playing real roles in decision-making for the journal’s content, website, and more. However, I can honestly say that I have learned more about writing in the five weeks I’ve been working with Shenandoah than I ever could in a traditional English class. There’s something humbling about sorting through manuscripts from everywhere, from Virginia to France. And I still can’t get over the sheer volume of it all, of the people who entrust their work to us so we can sift through it all, not quite knowing how to put into words exactly what we’re looking for, until we find it and think, “Ah, yes, here it is.” I never knew how much I cared about writing before this, but interning with Shenandoah has left me thinking, “Ah, yes, here I am.”
Paige Willey, a Senior English and Medieval and Renaissance Studies Major from Bountiful, Utah
When registering for my final semester of classes at Washington and Lee, I had one goal in mind: if I must take a class, it’d better be something I enjoy, something worth taking time away from my final thesis and the job hunt, and something that will survive the senioritis. Unlike the other classes and meetings I have to attend, I get to come to the Shenandoah office three times a week. I get to research and learn about other literary reviews. Here I participate in discussions about bringing a print journal online, the challenges facing literary magazines today, and what makes a short story good. On my own time, I’m reading a collection of short stories, exploring and making suggestions for the new website, and writing weekly journals about this sphere of the literary world that so fascinates me. Somehow, mirabile dictu, I enjoy coming to the warm, dark-paneled and book-shelved office that feels more like home than any classroom, and sitting down with a stack of new submissions or beginning a new assignment to bring Shenandoah online.
Tim McAleenan, a junior English and history major from St. Louis, Missouri
As soon as I started my Shenandoah internship, I learned that one of my primary responsibilities would be sorting, logging, and assessing the quality of literary submissions received by our journal. Like hound dogs on the prowl, we have to size-up a wide breadth of information on the spot, reading quickly yet efficiently to recognize which submissions are worthy of publication. A work that captures our attention for publication will demonstrate a mastery of subtlety and complexity of language in a way that gives the reader both pleasure and edification. Professor R.T. Smith spent the preliminary weeks of the course instructing us how to develop a consistent evaluatory technique, and we have spent the subsequent weeks determining which submissions we ought to bring forward for publishing consideration.
When I first began reviewing manuscripts, I quickly came to appreciateShenandoah’s approach to editing and accepting the submissions of readers. Whereas some literary journals strenuously assert their right to edit and fine-tune submissions to fit their scholarly objectives, Shenandoah opts to appraise a work on its current status. We take the old adage “a girl in a convertible is worth five in the phone book” to heart, usually selecting a superior work over a weaker submission with more potential.
And although we receive a very large volume of submissions, I have found that it is very important to give every story a fair shot—a predictable beginning will not always lead to a predictable ending. As a native of Missouri, I can usually determine a fellow native’s political orientation based on whether he pronounces the state “Miz-our-ah” or “Miz-our-ee,” but that approach does not extend to literary evaluations. In fact, the best writers can take a seemingly predictable storyline and twist or manipulate it in such a well-crafted manner that it would be a marvelous joy to read.
Of course, Shenandoah interns do much more than just sort through and evaluate manuscripts. We learn to hone our ability to write book reviews, publish poetry in the school broadcasting system, participate in weekly meetings with the editor, write news releases, update Shenandoah’s media presence, and arrange at least three hours per week to assist the editor in the office. Our primary duty is critiquing and updating Shenandoah’s new web platform that will be the future host of the literary journal, while at the same time retaining its name-brand status. In much the same way that Coca-Cola would not want to trade the associative power of its brand name with Dr. Thunder, we want our web journal to be of equal strength with the print journal that solidified Shenandoah’s reputation in years past. As we sedulously work to create a website that is both professional and easily accessible, we are looking to forward to using our web platform to reach an audience unlimited in scope and hopefully as passionate about fine creative writing as we are.
Barbara Knipp, a junior English and Religion major from Baltimore, Maryland
As an intern at Shenandoah, I look forward each week to reading through the submitted manuscripts, analyzing and judging content and appropriateness for the review. Mr. Smith, the journal’s editor, has taught us not only about what makes good writing, a good story, a good character, and a good ending, but also about the wider world of publishing. Most recently we have discussed funding and the role it plays in the journal’s move from a print to an online journal as well as public relations in the literary world. As a group, the interns researched both print and online journals to discuss the effectiveness and goal of each and how the insights can contribute to Shenandoah. My fellow interns and I have began and kept up a correspondence with the web designer for the Shenandoah site. Through e-mail and blog posts we share ideas and discuss improvements for the site. We are also currently working on a book review of the short story collection, Miracle Boy, as a part of our study of fiction writing. Combining what I have learned through my own assessment of manuscript submissions and in-class discussions, I applied the frame of a good short story that we identified in class to Miracle Boy. The once-a-week class meetings and the individual work hours combine to create an in-depth working and learning experience that has taught me more than I expected about writing and the literary world.
Robert Grattan, a junior English and journalism major from Richmond, Virginia
As an English major at W&L, I’ve read masterful authors such as Melville and Hawthorne, cultural storytellers like Leslie Marmon Silko and Maxine Hong Kingston, and enjoyed short stories by Hemmingway and Twain in classroom settings across campus.
It’s easy to see important writing as done only by authors with bestselling books or in published anthologies, but at Shenandoah, I get to read work by people who are closer to you and me. The writing isn’t as polished as Hawthorne and Hemingway or as sharp as Alexie and Twain, but these writers take their work in different directions and end up in places that authors we read in the classroom rarely visit. Sometimes these places don’t merit a visit, but other times, I leave Shenandoah a story has grabbed me — I find myself constantly returning to it throughout the day.
As Shenandoah moves online, I know that we can continue to bring to our readers these kinds of stories that you can’t help but think about for the rest of the day. As Mr. Smith can tell you, the internet can offer both exciting possibilities and huge technical difficulties. Hopefully, Shenandoah will be equal to the challenges and able to take advantage of the opportunities. It’s an exciting time to be an intern at Shenandoah; I know that we can make it an exciting time to be a reader as well.
Tracy Richardson, a senior English major from Ann Arbor, Michigan
Moving from the position of Intern to Assistant Editor at Shenandoah, I have gained further valuable insight into what it means to be both a writer and an editor. During my second semester at Shenandoah, I have been able to take on the exciting project of interviewing the W&L alum and writer Rebecca Makkai and write a review of her upcoming novel The Borrower. The opportunity to study Makkai’s writing and work with her directly has been truly amazing, as she is an accomplished author who, just a few years ago, held the same position in the Shenandoah office that I currently hold. Writing a review for publication and conducting an interview has involved the application of many of the concepts I learned and skills I acquired during my first semester at Shenandoah. The internship combines both the editorial and creative writing sides; students have to understand what having a creative voice means in order to evaluate creative work. The review I have been working on provides a chance to hone my skills as a writer while simultaneously engaging in the editorial and publishing sides of the great entity of “the literary world.” Plus, the advice Makkai has offered through her analysis of her own writing and knowledge I’ve gleaned from R.T. Smith’s sharp eye for editing my review have been incredibly valuable in understanding, and improving, my own writing.
My time at Shenandoah has also very much helped me in editing, designing, and publishing W&L’s student creative arts journal, Muse. As editor of Muse, I conduct meetings with other students involved in the journal, and I have found that our discussions often mirror the discussions, both informal and formal, that occur in the Shenandoah office. Throughout my time in the office, I have developed a sense of my own personal criteria for evaluating both short stories and poetry, and I try to teach my fellow students on the Muse staff about what it means to give a piece of writing a “fair shot.” Poetry in particular has always been challenging to assess and critique, and my time at the Shenandoah office, and the many associated hours reading countless poems, has given me guidance in establishing a method for reading such a nebulous form of art. As I move into the final stages of publishing the latest issue of Muse, I cannot help but see the influence of my position as Assistant Editor at Shenandoah. The work published this year is some of the strongest I have seen in my time as editor, and the issue includes a wide range of submissions that, while radically different in style, hold equal merit. Also, Muse will feature an interview with R.T. Smith – an obvious, and positive, influence of Shenandoah on Muse.
Furthermore, I have recently been redesigning the Muse website. Working with Jim Groom and the other interns at Shenandoah, I have learned a great deal about the interaction between the reader and the editor in an online setting. The literary journal as an online journal holds incredible potential, and a close study of how readers process creative works online has been instrumental in developing the new Shenandoah website. During my second semester here I have spent hours scouring the Internet and combing through online journals, from academic publications to writer/reader blogs, to understand what it means to engage a reader online. The possibility for provocative and thoughtful discussion, the immediate exposure to new forms of expression, and the aesthetic integrity of presenting another person’s art in a clear and meaningful way have all been major concerns of mine in offering commentary for the Shenandoah website and how the new website can be an influential vehicle in promoting art and writing. These concerns are inescapable as I redesign the Muse website where I have to balance the constraints of budget and time alongside ambitious ideas for the effusion of intellectual and creative thought through Muse online.
Jane Beall, B.A. in English ’06 from Richmond, VA
I spent three semesters – the maximum allowed by the registrar – as a Shenandoah intern. Even after 36 weeks in the office, there was still more to learn so I worked with Professor Smith one final semester through an independent study. I cherish the time I spent in the Mattingly House. Professor Smith encouraged us to read the manuscripts we opened and processed, which I loved, but I think my favorite part was reading the cover letters. Some were clearly afterthoughts to the manuscript, as if the authors had poured everything into the creative piece and had nothing left. Some were boilerplate and addressed to Ploughshares or the VQR. But others were thoughtful and passion-filled. You could feel the author’s ache to share his work with readers. By reading about their inspirations, I was inspired – to read, to write, to share and make connections.
Matthew Neill Null, B.A. ’06, from West Virginia
The other day, I was reading Eudora Welty’s elegy for the Natchez Trace, “Some Notes on River Country.” Certain passages shimmered on the page, including this:
The clatter of hoofs and the bellow of boats have gone, all old communications. The Old Natchez Trace has sunk out of use; it is deep with leaves. The river has gone away and left the landings. Boats from Liverpool do not dock at these empty crags. The old deeds are done, old evil and old good have been made into stories, as plows turn up the river bottom…Perhaps it is the sense of place that gives us the belief that passionate things, in some essence, endure. Whatever is significant and whatever is tragic in its story live as long as the place does, though they are unseen, and the new life will be built upon those things – regardless of commerce and the way of rivers and roads, and other vagrancies.
Germans call this feeling ruinenlust, the beauty of decay, the odd mix of melancholy and appreciation that the sight of ruins elicits from the viewer. It is a slippery emotion, and utterly human. When I think back to my tenure at Shenandoah, I can’t untwist it from life on the Washington & Lee campus, 2002-2006. All the gossip was of hedge fund managers, or who had been tapped for the marquee investment firms; who was recruiting that week; who, Runyonesque, made the big score. Now, we are told, this was a period of “irrational exuberance” – a bloodless, bureaucratic term that puts one in mind of “collateral damage.” Now the great firms have failed, the dollar is eating itself, the emperor has no clothes.
For me, the Shenandoah office was a rockpool of sanity, a place of respite from a crashing ocean of money talk and delusion. It is a common misconception that artists are incorrigible dreamers. I’ve been lucky enough to live and work with many artists, and I must say that they are the truest realists I’ve encountered so far. I met people like this at Shenandoah. Isak Dinesen cautioned, “Write a little every day, without hope, without despair.” If there is a better way, I haven’t found it. I’m not saying I’ve lived up to this ideal – far from it – but I like to think that Shenandoah helped foster lessons like this, long before I read Dinesen. We wanted to find the next Delillo or Berryman in the pile, but we kept our heads, we knew the odds, we tried to develop that cold horse-trader’s eye.
When remembering the university, I immediately recall scattered perceptions. The rumpled spine of the Blueridge. The phosphorescent gleam of white pillars in the day’s last light. Discovering Cheever, William Eggleston, and Michael Herr’s Dispatches. Fishing the Jackson with Laurence Eaton and Jeremy Boggs, before landowners and reckless country judges made the Jackson nearly impossible to fish. Helping musicians carry an upright bass into a radio station. Hearing TANF policy discussed in such detail that, against all odds, an unwieldy legislative work begins to resemble a gleaming Byzantine mosaic in your mind (not a bad thing). Stepping into Shenandoah.
A place that ever was lived in is like a fire that never goes out. It flares up, it smolders for a time, it is fanned or smothered by circumstance, but its being is intact, forever fluttering with in it, the result of some original ignition. Sometimes it gives out glory, sometimes its little light must be sought out to be seen, small and tender as a candle flame, but as certain.
Amen. Shenandoah is sixty this year. Let us pray – let us work – for another sixty, at least.