The following is a guest post by Clare Hogan, summer intern at the Library of Congress Poetry and Literature Center.
When Rob Casper asked me to write a blog post about my time at the Poetry and Literature Center, I thought of how I got here. My education in poetry started in high school, and in my two years as an undergrad at St. Mary’s College of Maryland I’ve taken a number of poetry classes. My professor Karen Leona Anderson, a poet herself, has become a mentor for me. Last fall she nominated me for the Lannan Fellows Program at the Folger Shakespeare Library, for which I attended readings in the O.B. Hardison Poetry Series about once a month for six months. The readings opened my eyes to contemporary American poetry–I listened to and met poets such as Joy Harjo and Charles Simic.
Later in the school year, Professor Anderson mentioned an internship possibility at the Library of Congress. My Museum Studies minor requires a certain number of internship hours, but I wanted to do something a little outside the Museum Studies box–to combine my studies in English, creative writing, public art education, and archives. Of course, the Poetry and Literature Center could not have been a more perfect fit.
Over this past summer, interning here at the Library, I have been involved with a number of initiatives. I have helped compile the online audio archive of the Library’s literary readings, worked on the update to former Poet Laureate Billy Collins’ Poetry 180 project, conducted an interview for the Center’s online series, and helped process submissions for the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize, the Library’s biennial prize for an outstanding book of poetry or lifetime achievement in the art.
My favorite aspect of the internship has been my work for the Bobbitt Prize. Throughout June and July, the office received boxes and boxes of submissions. Part of my job has been to catalog the submissions and prepare them to be sent to the three judges. In the process, I opened a few of the books out of curiosity. Most of the poets, as well as the presses that submitted their books, were new to me, but I quickly grew familiar with both. This offered a great complement to my Lannan Fellows experience.
After graduating from college I plan on going on to receive my MFA in poetry, and I am grateful for the education I’ve received this summer. It is easy to get lost in writing poetry, to revel in its art–but it is difficult to think about what comes after the writing process. In interning at the Poetry and Literature Center, I have developed a greater sense of how poetry reaches the public.