Thursday, April 18, 2013

A Repeat-Intern’s Long Project: The Norton Trilogy

 Jack L. August Jr. has written two books that deal with water rights and the division of the Colorado River: Dividing Western Waters and Vision in the Desert. His latest book, The Norton Trilogy, due in July, focuses on something different. It begins in the late nineteenth century and follows three generations of John Ruddle Nortons of Arizona all the way to the present. This book follows the development of the Southwest region of the United States and the origins of Phoenix, Arizona, and the Salt River Valley, all centered on agriculture and business.

I was assigned to help with this project from the beginning of my internship here, and I have spent more time on this book than any other. I have completed the widest range of assignments for this book, and it has taught me the most about the lengthy process of making a manuscript into a book.

The editing process alone is extremely involved. This is the area which I have been assisting the TCU Press staff the most.

I admit that when I first saw the manuscript for The Norton Trilogy, it was daunting: 11 chapters, each 30-50 pages, plus an introduction and conclusion. Step one was to get familiar with the text. I spent a few weeks in September staring at a computer screen, reading the manuscript. It took a long time, but I was learning already. I soon became comfortable with the structure of the book and the narratives of the people in it. To top it off, I even learned a thing or two about dam construction and Arizona history.

To make the next step (developmental editing) easier, I then was tasked with creating a timeline of all the events in the book. From the birth of John Norton in 1854 to John Norton III’s most recent campaign in 2001, this book has a long chronology of events that literally span centuries.

Next I followed the Press editor, Kathy Walton, as she worked her magic. August’s words began to revive themselves from the first time I read it, and I was reminded of the great subject matter. From November through March, I worked on copyediting the prose to follow the rules of the Chicago Manual of Style. As an intern, it was my job to make sure that the style choices were being used in the text and to confirm spellings of names and places. The content was more solidly saved in my head.

February through April saw the collection and organization of images for the book. Because this is primarily a biography, it was interesting to put faces to the names. One photograph was chosen for the cover, and the rest needed a place within the text. By far my most hands-on experience at the Press has been to catalogue these pictures. The timeline made earlier gave me insight into the structure of the book, but now this knowledge is put to the test as I search for chapters and pages to match each photo.

The Norton Trilogy is a combination of regional history, the politics of agriculture, and legal issues about river water. This book mainly follows the Norton family, but also details the practices of ancient Native Americans’ canal systems, White House efforts to divide life-giving river water among several arid regions, and scenes of the recently formed settlement town of Phoenix. The wide array of subjects makes it an editorial challenge, but overall a highly interesting read.

We’re getting closer and closer to producing a completed, polished book. Once the manuscript is edited, the text will be transmitted to the designer, who will return page proofs for us to proofread before sending it to the printer. Soon it will be out of my hands entirely.

I can’t wait for that first shipment of printed books. I spent so much time on this project, I am going to hold the finished product in my hands and feel a strong sense of pride for my contributions. 

by Megan Doyle, intern

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

An Intern's Reflection

I've had a lot of valuable experiences as an intern here at TCU Press. The “insider’s look” behind the scenes of what goes into publication of a book is something I’ll cherish, even beyond my time at TCU. What’s more, the people at the Press have been nothing but friendly, contributing to a beneficial and synergistic work environment that made it less of a chore and more of a privilege to come in every Friday for eight hours.

Working as a copyeditor, PR man, catalog writer, blogger, reviewer, and formatter for e-books has shown me the diversity of a job in editing and publication, while simultaneously keeping me interested and engaged in my work each week. There’s always something different, always something more to do. I’m more of a writer, but helping out an author through editing has proven to be really rewarding.

The public relations aspect of it is also something I really like. Since I was little I've been more of a performer than the average Writing major, so I like knowing that what I've written will be read and appreciated. I've been able to synthesize my experiences in several courses, provide analytic and superficial readings to those who appreciate both, and find avenues to still express my creativity. The blog posts on two of the books I've read gave me a chance to flex my authorial muscles in a way that wasn't entirely fact-based, which may have been my favorite part of this entire internship.

Now that I know how much work goes into editing and publishing, as a future academic, I also know that the work I produce will go through this same process. I’m now aware of just how invested in an author and their work a publisher has to be for it to make it through the acquisitions stage alone. Consequently, that has led me to up my game as a researcher.

Beyond that, and generally becoming sycophantic to the people with whom I work (for which there are many reasons to do so, and none of them false), I can’t say much else except I've been honored to work here, I know my work has been appreciated and valued, and I hope that the Press continues this tradition long after I leave these hallowed gates.

by Luke Miller, intern

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Pools of Humanity, Oceans of Self

National Poetry Month is so critically important. More than anything, I write poetry to get others to step back from themselves and their slavery to their calendars; to allow them to look at something I’ve experienced and use the text as a mirror for their own emotion; to remind them, if only subtly, that we are all interconnected by the lives we touch and the things we do, or see, or instinctively know, or want to know. The way the sunset hits the mountain could be a dimly registering echo of home. The ostracism and angst felt by a first-time poet’s narration could recall similar instances of alienation for the reader. Even if it’s just an evocation of emotion rather than an explicitly stated situation, we dive into pools of humanity when we read poetry; we swim in oceans of self.

Finding meaning in the most vague, interpretation-laden texts is a pursuit that is not only noble, it is so accurately a mirror of the human condition that to deny its impact is to deny what makes the universality of poetry so universal. We, as people, are called to read between the lines of our friends’ conversations; to guess at what people are saying in the workplace through the linguistic obstacle courses of doublespeak and professionalism; to take to heart and drink in deep the lessons imparted to us by our family. Poetry takes all of that and removes the hyper-individualization through its existence as writing—but keeps the intimacy of a personalized experience through the act of reading it.

Poetry reminds us elegantly, in the most balletic and delicate way possible, as to why we are alive.

by Luke Miller, intern

Friday, April 5, 2013

Evolution of Poetics

Through my years at TCU I’ve become attracted to multiple forms of poetry. I began in my freshman year, with a look into the work of Charles A. Silvestri within the gorgeous choral music of modern composer Eric Whitacre. Especially of note is the widely-considered magnum opus of both, “Sleep,” which is currently in the process of publication as a children’s book (the satin-esque, downy beauty of the opening lines, “The evening hangs beneath the moon/ A silver thread on darkened dune/ With closing eyes and resting head/ I know that sleep is coming soon,” read with the knowledge that it’s in complete syllabic and metric synchrony with Robert Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening always moves me).

Moving further in my studies I was attracted to the ultra-modern and the avant-garde. One medium that spoke to me (no pun intended) more than anything was that mainstay of coffeehouses and beatniks everywhere, spoken-word poetry. Andrea Gibson’s optimistic Birthday, exultant Say Yes, and devastating Blue Blanket collided with Alysia Harris’s continuation of the idea behind Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnet 43, the masterful Death Poem. Courses I took with noted professors of poetry and literature at TCU kept me grasping at the modern and postmodern works of ee cummings (i thank you god for most this amazing day, anyone lived in a pretty how town), T.S. Eliot (The Waste Land, Preludes), and Tracy K. Smith (My God, It’s Full of Stars).

I actually want to pursue poetics as a personal academic mainstay in the near future. As a recently accepted Master’s candidate and a current enrollee in a beyond-fascinating Popular Culture course, I can think of nothing more satisfying as a future doctoral dissertation than going back to the beginning of my interest in poetry—song lyrics in rock music—and viewing them as analytic texts; seeing diction and rhyme’s continued power and tracking its impact on modern youth culture’s paradigms would be an incredibly satisfying (and compelling) thesis. Look at La Dispute’s lyrics to their vastly understated ode to adolescence, “Nine,” and tell me that’s not poetry. Tell me that won’t impact youth to live a little differently. Now tell me you wouldn’t read more about that.

Dr. David Colón, in his study of Latino/a-centric texts, avant-garde poetics, and modern literature, has produced a thrilling chronological anthology of Miguel González-Gerth’s work in Between Day and Night, complete with an enlightening introduction into Gerth’s life and times as a poet confronted with a talent in traditional rhyme scheme thrust into a world of increasing disregard for said rhymes. González-Gerth manages to take that world back, with simple-yet-powerful diction (as earlier in his Pregnant Girl with Dogs:  “Modestly carrying the secret of the universe/ She walks so casually, a triumph over curse”) and searing questions (as later in his Giovinezza: “Would you set me on fire/ Or would it be the same as when you waver,/ Knowing the inclination of my mind?”). The general reception to González-Gerth’s style in poetics is a haunting metaphor for the practice of poetry itself, a trend that is fast growing to an unacceptable mass.

by Luke Miller, intern

Between Day and Night: New and Selected Poems, 1946-2010 Miguel González-Gerth will be available this summer.