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It’s Frosting on the Cake & It Only Gets Batter
Gabby Rente '20 working on a broadside in the Lit House print shop.

June 27, 2018
2018 Literary House Summer Intern Gabby Rente ’20 reports from the field.

Nothing held my interest for long as a kid. Theater lasted a year, and softball only a season. But writing always remained my favorite activity. In high school, I wrote for my school newspaper and edited the literary magazine. Over the years, it developed into more than a hobby; it turned into a lifestyle.  I imagined going to a college or university that would spark my creativity and not just “mold” me into a writer but give me the tools and courage to persevere.

On my first day of work at the Rose O’Neill Literary House, I walked around taut and nervous, wanting to make the best impression possible, but the staff quickly broke me from that trance and instead encouraged me to relax and drink tea during our first meeting. Here, interns become valuable team members working together to create a space for students’ ingenuity and writing to flourish.

My first two weeks working at the Lit House have taught me several important lessons, such as hot air does indeed rise hence the library on the first floor provides a lovely, cool place to sit. Secondly, chalkboard paint refuses to yield to cleanliness. Persist, persist, persist. And use a sponge!

Our first week consisted mostly of tutorials on InDesign. I can now confidently say I possess the ability to make something decent on InDesign; book cover, literary event poster, pamphlet, you name it!

Of course, the entire week did not require us sitting in front of a screen. In the back of the Lit House lies the letterpress print shop. Here, we learned how to measure and cut high-quality paper, select and mix ink by hand, and print using antique methods. We printed a second run of Carolyn Forché’s award-winning poem, “The Boatman.”

The second week, my fellow intern and I cataloged all the broadsides and posters on the Lit House walls.  These charming posters, covering nearly every inch of vertical space, go all the way back to the late 60s, documenting events and readings to which the house has borne witness. Some visiting writers include amazing people like Natasha Trethewey, Neil Gaiman, Allen Ginsberg, and even Toni Morrison. 

We held the honor of helping select which broadsides and posters would appear in classrooms in one of the College’s academic halls. My favorite poster promoted a play called “La Vida es Sueño” from 1982, and now it will hang in the lecture halls for my fellow WC students to see. I hope they take the play’s title to heart and give their own dreams life.  

The Lit House just hosted its Summer Literary Salon, and no, it’s not where writers go to get their hair done. I like to call it “a conglomeration of writing nerds under one roof to read literary works and talk weird experiences.” Our visitors were H.G. Carrillo, David MacLean, Lynn Melnick, and the Literary House’s 2018 Cave Canem Fellow, Lauren Russell, each of whom spoke about their individual inspirations. One visiting writer I tied myself into a nervous knot over, but eventually he signed the book I bought and gave me a hug afterwards. I then promptly rushed myself upstairs and out of sight to have an ecstatic fit before returning myself to the social scene in one calm piece.

cake frosting gifThis internship, while quite rewarding, also requires focused work, using skills seen in other job fields. We have collected and condensed information into multiple spreadsheets on Excel and Google Sheets, conducted research on soon-to-be visiting writers, and created literary-themed trivia questions for the upcoming Cherry Tree Young Writer’s Conference. Where is the best place to have a summer internship? Answer: The Rose O’Neill Literary House.

This is merely the frosting on the many layered, colorfully complex cake that represents the Rose O’Neill Literary House in this strange metaphor. My apologies if I made you crave cake.

Last modified on Jun. 27th, 2018 at 1:33pm by Lindsay Lusby.