Dear The Southern Review & LSU Press,
Sometimes, falling asleep at the student desk logging acceptances and rejections in and out of the system or reading chapters 8.75 or 26.9 or 110,456.5 of The Chicago Manual of Style, I felt as though my last week would never arrive. I hate commas. I don’t want to send rejection letters; they make me so sad. I have six paper cuts from all the press releases I just stuffed into all these envelopes.
I was the ungrateful intern in those moments. The nervous rookie, still adjusting. Now, today, I am the melancholy intern, who wishes to rewind and replay the summer and relish those learning moments. But I cannot, so instead I offer my gratitude. Worth little, but genuine all the same.
Thank you, everyone, for visiting my little desk on that first day. You asked my name; you complimented my homemade lunch; you helped me navigate the submissions manager, e-mail, and piles of mail; you gave me your own parking pass so I wouldn’t get ticketed; you agreed with me that the copy machine was a complete piece of junk even though we both knew that was untrue and that I just did not know how to operate it correctly and was embarrassed and trying to save face.
Thank you for always ensuring productivity. I always felt useful, I always felt needed, I always felt like I had mentors who wanted to teach me, and, I promise you, I always want(ed) to learn.
Thank you to all my hardworking coworkers I only met once, or spoke with infrequently (like when I needed a set of keys or broke the copy machine for the seventh time that day)—thank you for your kindness. I understand how important you are and I hope to have coworkers as friendly and talented in the future.
Thank you, TSR and LSUP, for trusting me enough to contact poets and authors, many of whom are my heroes, my creative idols; thank you for not laughing at me when I geeked out that Charles Simic (!) had sent a piece of mail or Tom Sleigh (!) reached out via e-mail and I realized I had the distinct honor of responding. Thank you for trusting me with manuscripts, proposals, and editing projects. Even though my professional opinion is worth almost exactly two cents, thank you for allowing me to participate in acquisitions decisions.
Thank you for showing me that any person at any time (within the posted submission period!) can send in a poem, proposal, or nine hundred page manuscript and all submissions are read and considered equally. This gives me faith in the system and reminds me that literary meritocracy is alive in this beautiful corner of the world.
Thank you for showing me that I can be a woman and an editor of an internationally renowned literary journal, a woman and the publisher of a major academic press. Thank you for showing me that I can be a woman who works with other women without feeling threatened or the need to compete. Thank you for showing me that I can be a woman who works with men in a male- dominated field without compromising my ability or my intelligence to succeed or belong.
Thank you for confirming that the devil really is in the details. The size of the dash always matters! There are two different types of single quotation marks and they have dramatically different meanings! We must check and double-check the spelling of every noun, verb, and adjective we think we know how to spell because we cannot trust ourselves, and we certainly cannot trust writers!
Thank you for demonstrating the profound creative capacity and literary tradition of the South—I am filled with pride when I tell people that I work for The Southern Review and LSU Press. That is how Robert Penn Warren and Cleanth Brooks wanted us to feel, I think, from the coeditors all the way down to the summer intern. Your pride in your work, your endless dedication to craft, your tireless enthusiasm for language has impressed itself upon me, it invigorates me, and validates my desire to work in editing and publishing and to continue my own creative work.
Thank you for editing this letter before it appears on the website, because I am grammatically, syntactically imperfect and have not memorized the house style guide (yet).
Thank you, a thousand times thank you,
Summer Intern, Enemy of Copy Machine 4106
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