Poetry by Heart

For the final entry in this year’s National Poetry Month (#npm15) series, we have a special piece by Catherine Robson, author of Heart Beats: Everyday Life and the Memorized Poem, on what changed her mind about the merits of poetry recitation.

Poetry By Heart
by Catherine Robson

Small-Blue-RGB-National-Poetry-Month-LogoLast month, the third annual final “Poetry By Heart”, a national recitation competition for British 14-18 year olds, was staged in Homerton College, Cambridge. Sitting there as one of the judges in the packed auditorium, I witnessed a series of magical transformations. Time and again, slightly awkward or diffident young people walked onto the stage, paused, and then became entirely different individuals altogether. When they started to speak the words they had committed to heart, they took possession not just of themselves and their poems, but of every other person in the room. I found it an exceptionally moving experience.Heart Beats

If you had told me ten years ago that I would volunteer to work on such a competition, I would have been very surprised. Back then, when I first began work on a book about the strange phenomenon of the memorized poem, I held few positive feelings about recitation. I knew that reciting poetry used to hold a privileged place in the elementary curricular programs of the past, but I didn’t know why or when the practice became mainstream, nor why and when we all stopped doing it. But I was sure that I was not a fan. Enforcing poetry on (or into) the unwilling brains and bodies of the young seemed to me a questionable activity at best. What happened, then, to change my mind?

For one thing, I discovered in the course of my researches that my negative opinion was entirely typical for one of my age and nationality. Born in Britain in 1962, I attended state primary and secondary schools that had no time for what was then regarded as an outmoded pedagogical endeavor, an endeavor likely to turn individuals against poetry for life. Today this is not the prevailing attitude in all quarters – for one thing, the British government, in addition to funding “Poetry By Heart,” now makes “reciting” a specified activity for the youngest children in state education – but the concept of compulsory mass recitation continues to make many of my countrymen uncomfortable. The idea of the memorized poem in Britain summons up thoughts of both a discredited instructional practice and a discredited educational formation – which is to say, learning by rote, and the Victorian elementary school, the institution which supposedly backed up that rote-learning with liberal applications of the rod.

Because I have now lived in the United States for over a quarter of a century, I know that Americans, by and large, are much more positive about poetry recitation. If the topic comes up in casual conversation or the media, it tends to generates not just polite interest, but passionate engagement. I’ve lost count of the number of times an octogenarian has launched into a performance of “Thanatopsis” or a bit of Longfellow for me, and I’ve heard individuals of a range of ages and from both sides of the political spectrum turn wistful, lamenting the passing of a time when all were seemingly united by a joint stock of poetic knowledge.

Digging into the rich and at times complicated story of the memorized poem’s progress in two sharply distinct public education systems has helped me to understand why it is that Britons and Americans today feel so differently about this pedagogical practice: the book I’ve written devotes its first half to this history, and its second to the recitational fortunes of three short poems that were once school classics on two sides of the Atlantic. Coming to terms with my own dismissive attitude towards the repetition of poetry has been another kind of project altogether.

It took me some time, but today I can draw a line between bad recitation and good.  I still think it’s important to notice that dismal experiences with poetry afflicted the lives of many children in less-than-ideal pedagogical environments in the past, but I no longer believe that this fact negates the value of the practice.  I now feel that in the right circumstances, and for certain kinds of people, the memorized poem carries an enormous potential charge.  Last month in Cambridge, its power took hold of us all.

An interview with Jeff Nunokawa, author of “Note Book”

Note BookEach morning since 2007, Jeff Nunokawa, English professor at Princeton University, logs onto Facebook and writes something. But unlike most of us who take part in this simple exercise in connection, Nunokawa is both effortlessly lyrical and impressively well-read, drawing in references from Henry James to Joni Mitchell.  Note Book, which compiles the 250 most striking of the brief, daily essays Nunokawa has shared on his “notes” page, resembles an extensive multimedia project, but retains a remarkable sense of intimacy.  Laura Kipnis compares his posts to “witty billets-doux from an astonishingly literate secret admirer”, and if you take a look at the way he writes, you’ll see why. Recently, Jeff was kind enough to indulge us with some personal insights into his writing process, motivations, and obsession with revision on the social media platform. It’s fascinating stuff:

What are you doing when you write these essays for Facebook, and why are you doing it?

JN: Well, I write these brief essays every morning, or sometimes in the middle of the night because I’m alone a lot and lonely and very talkative but being alone, there’s no one to talk to. But actually, I’m not really alone, even when I’m by myself. I’ve read a lot of books and they’re all around me. Mostly literature although other things as well: a fair amount of philosophy, for example, and every Eleanor Roosevelt biography and memoir I can get my hands on. Also, a picture of my mother’s dog and various soccer players and my feeling of the presence of all kinds of spirits. And when I’m quiet enough for a while, these things all speak to me, if I let them. And after that, if they let me, I write a little essay which conveys as best it can the courage and clarity and good humor of the above spirits—some of the above spirits can be incredibly witty! (you should hear what Eleanor Roosevelt has to say about JFK!)—to others who might be able to use it.

I guess what I’m trying to do is to put to use what I’ve learned over the course of a long, strange life reading and teaching and telling stories. I’m trying to make it useful to other people.

How?

JN: Well, I think most people are like me, in at least one respect. I think everyone feels deeply in the dark, sometimes—sometimes, just lying in bed, wondering how they’re going to make it through the day. Sometimes it takes the best voices you’ve ever heard in your life just to get from horizontal to vertical. That’s where a lot of what I write tries to come in and give people a lift.

How has your writing changed over the course of the time you have been engaged in this project?

JN: Well, I think I used to be much more concerned with showing off when I started—showing off what I knew and how “knowing” I was. I think I’m less concerned now with showing off than I am with *showing*. I’ll put it this way: when I started out, my model was Walter Benjamin—a crazy beautiful German Philosopher-Mystic, who wrote these astonishing often very mysterious, fragmentary aphorisms. Now, I think, I’m a little more taken with example of the Reverend Paul Osumi.

Who?

JN: The Reverend Paul Osumi had a daily column in the Honolulu Advertiser when I was a kid. Actually, it wasn’t so much a column—it was one those “thought for the day” kind of deals: just these little daily inspirations to get through the day with as much light in your soul and your step as you could. I don’t remember a single thing he said, but I remember how important that column was for half of Honolulu. When I was a kid (like till about last year), I used to think he was some kind of shallow smiley-faced fool. Now he’s pretty much my role model.

Well aside from the Reverend Paul Osumi, do you have other role models that influence your writing?

JN: Sure: let’s see: lots of the big essayists of the 18th and 19th centuries—Hume, Johnson and Lamb and Pater, writers like that who were so concerned with using what they knew to try to help live better.

What about prose models—stylists whom you model yourself on? As you must know, your writing can be a little “quirky” as your editor calls it.

JN: Yeah, I know. Well, I’m really trying to be a little more mainstream and accessible—less Gerard Manley Hopkins and more E.B. White—but I’m always going to hear the call of “Pied Beauty” and all that gorgeous jazz that makes you cry and see the world more clearly through all the tears, all the Tears of this Beautiful Broken World. I don’t mean to sound all precious. Heck, I hear E. B. White wept whenever he read out loud and the passage in Charlotte’s Web where the spider dies.

The writing that you do on Facebook, you revise compulsively.  It’s ironic that the writing you do on Facebook, on a virtual platform of ephemerality, should be the site where you are most concerned with revising, so that you might produce something polished for the ages. What’s that about, I wonder?

JN: Good question. It may be that the answer would only be interesting to my therapist. Oh wait. I forgot. I don’t have a therapist. The writing itself is my only therapy, now. It used to be that I needed Therapy to write. Now writing is therapy. Funny how life turns out.

Anyway, to return to the question. I don’t know, except that the irony you’re touching on here informs the spirit and style of some of the greatest essayists and I’m happy to follow their lead: the impulse to put the realms of conversation—and what is the internet, if not a place where the live sense of ephemeral conversation crackles like an electric wire into contact with the realms of solid learning (“for the ages”). Hume says, on his essay on essay writing,

I cannot but consider myself as a Kind of Resident or Ambassador from the Dominions of Learning to those of Conversation

and by gum, what’s good enough for Hume is good enough for me.

Celebrate National Poetry Month with Colm Tóibín’s On Elizabeth Bishop

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Author photo by Phoebe

Author photo by Phoebe Ling

In the first entry in this month’s National Poetry Month (#npm15) blog series, we are proud to feature Colm Tóibín’s On Elizabeth Bishop, the latest title in the Writers on Writers series. Irish novelist, critic, and playwright Tóibín is both a fan of and known as a master of subtle language (as evidenced by his selection of Henry James’s The Golden Bowl as current host of The Wall Street Journal Book Club), so it is apt that he considers the famously enigmatic American poet Bishop among one of his lasting literary influences.

Tóibín discovered Bishop in his teens and brought her Selected Poems in his suitcase to Barcelona (the setting of his first novels The South and Homage to Barcelona). He offers a personal and incisive introduction to Bishop’s life and work. Spanning her poetry, biography, letters, and prose works, Tóibín creates a beautiful and complex picture of Bishop while also revealing how her work has shaped his sensibility as a writer and how her experiences of loss and exile resonate with his own relationships to place, memory, and language.

Tampa Bay TiToibin_OnElizabethBishopmes book editor Colette Bancroft recently selected On Elizabeth Bishop as one of her notable prose books on poetry. Kirkus Reviews writes that Tóibín’s book is “[a]n admiring critical portrait of a great American poet and a master of subtlety….An inspiring appreciation from one writer to another.” A Starred Review in Publishers Weekly reads, “Novelist Tóibín gives an intimate and engaging look at Elizabeth Bishop’s poetry and its influence on his own work. . . . Whether one is familiar with Bishop’s life and work or is looking to Tóibín to learn more, this book will appeal to many readers.” At the Arts Fuse, Lloyd Schwartz calls it “a particularly welcome addition to the Princeton University Press Writers on Writers series. . . . [F]ew critics have dealt more revealingly than Tóibin with Bishop’s habitual illusion of ‘spontaneous’ self-correction, her process of thinking aloud on the page.” Across the pond, poet Eavan Boland writes in the Irish Times:

[C]ritical method at its best….Unorthodox, original and deeply effective….The close mesh between Tóibín’s growth as a writer and Bishop’s journey as a poet, the eloquent mirroring of place and displacement, and above all the openness to a poet’s language, a poet’s truth put this among the best books on poetry I have read in years. I have no doubt it will become an essential text on her work.

Read the first chapter of On Elizabeth Bishop on the PUP site. You can also read eleven of Bishop’s poems, including “One Art” and “The Fish,” at the Academy of American Poets site.

Don’t forget that this year’s Poem in Your Pocket Day is coming up at the end of the month (April 30; #pocketpoem). Which of Bishop’s poems would you want to carry around in your pocket to share with friends and family?

PUP celebrates National Poetry Month

Princeton University Press will be kicking off National Poetry Month by featuring a new poetry-related title each week on the blog, starting with Colm Tóibín’s deeply personal introduction to the life and work of Elizabeth Bishop. The first National Poetry Month was held in 1996, inspired in part by the success of Black History Month. Organized by the Academy of American Poets, this month-long April holiday has become a widespread way to bolster the appreciation of poetry. Poets.org offers a wealth of free educational resources and information on local poetry events, from PoemCity in Montpelier, VT, to Poetry & the Creative Mind in New York City.

In addition to retrospectives like Tóibín’s On Elizabeth Bishop from our Writers on Writers series, and cultural histories like Catherine Robson’s on poetry recitation, Princeton University Press has long published the best of emerging and established poets in the Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets, currently under the editorship of Princeton professor and former MacArthur Fellow Susan Stewart. Here are some poetry-related choices to enjoy this April:

 

On Elizabeth Bishop What W.H. Auden Can Do For You
The Complete Works of W.H. Auden Volume V The Complete Works of W.H. Auden Volume VI
Heart Beats The Eternal City: Poems

Celebrate National Grammar Day with Frank Cioffi’s One Day in the Life of the English Language

Grammar: It’s the difference between knowing your stuff and knowing you’re stuff. Some even say it saves lives (see below). If you haven’t noticed, today is National Grammar Day (March 4), so here at Princeton University Press we are celebrating good grammar, proper punctuation, and clear communication with Frank L. Cioffi’s anti-textbook handbook, One Day in the Life of the English Language: A Microcosmic Usage Handbook.

Cioffi’s chatty and charming reference doesn’t just lay out the “rules,” but also makes a convincing case for why good grammar and usage matter. Cioffi argues that Standard Written English (also known as “formal English”) is vital for success in professions where exactness and clarity carry great importance, and he also proposes that correct English can foster a more honest, ethical, and functional culture of communication.

The book draws on some three hundred real-world sentences printed in eleven newspapers and six weekly magazines and published on a single, typical day (December 29, 2008). Cioffi emphasizes that English usage is continually evolving and he debunks some of the most popular grammar “rules.” Is it acceptable to end a sentence with a preposition? It is. Can you start a sentence with a conjunction? You can. Is it “correct” to use split infinitives. Sure.

What do you think? Does “formal” English still matter in the post-Twitter world?

commas-save-lives

Check out the introduction and let us know.

We’ve also been tweeting out #NationalGrammarDay #protips from the book today.

Happy National Grammar Day!

Photo via Brett Jordan / Flickr

Clear and Simple as the Truth has author Steven Pinker’s seal of approval

simple truthSteven Pinker, author of How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate, and The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century, was recently featured in The New York Times Sunday Book Review to, well, review books (among other things). Pinker covers everything from the current books sitting beside his bed on his nightstand to his dream literary dinner party, but one question and answer caught the Press’s attention in particular.

When asked if there were “any unexpected gems you came across” while researching his latest book “The Sense of Style,” Pinker names Mark Turner and Francis Noël Thomas’s Clear and Simple as the Truth. “Their model of ‘classic prose’ — the writer directs the reader’s gaze to something in the world — elegantly captures the differences between vigorous and turgid writing,” explains Pinker in the interview.

Not long after the Times interview (literally one day later) Pinker was published in The Chronicle Review of Higher Education for his explanation of why academics stink at writing. Here, Pinker turns to Turner and Thomas for help framing his argument. “In a brilliant little book called Clear and Simple as the Truth, the literary scholars Francis-Noël Thomas and Mark Turner argue that every style of writing can be understood as a model of the communication scenario that an author simulates in lieu of the real-time give-and-take of a conversation.”

“They distinguish, in particular, romantic, oracular, prophetic, practical, and plain styles, each defined by how the writer imagines himself to be related to the reader, and what the writer is trying to accomplish…Among those styles is one they single out as an aspiration for writers of expository prose. They call it classic style, and they credit its invention to 17th-century French essayists such as Descartes and La Rochefoucauld.”

For the New York Times Sunday Book Review, click here, and to read the rest of Pinker’s article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, click here.

 

 

Untranslatable Tuesdays – Media

media

To mark the publication of Dictionary of Untranslatables: A Philosophical Lexicon, we are delighted to share a series of playful graphics by our design team which illustrate some of the most interesting terms from the Dictionary. For week six in the “Untranslatable Tuesdays” series we present Media/Medium (of communication):

By the beginning of the twentieth century, the recognition of a family resemblance between the various “implements of intercommunication” meant that they could be compared and contrasted in profitable new ways. . . . The term “mass media” found its niche in scholarly articles by such influential American midcentury thinkers as Hadley Cantril, Harold Lasswell, and Paul Lazarsfeld. But European philosophers resisted this tendency. . . . For Sartre, Adorno, and their contemporaries, “mass media” was less an untranslatable than an untouchable sullied by intellectual and institutional associations with American cultural imperialism. . . . This resistance was soon exhausted. . . . Cognates like “multimedia,” “remediation,” and “mediality” proliferate globally. This reflects less the dominance of English than the collective urgency of an intellectual project. (Ben Kafka)

 

Untranslatable Tuesdays – Work

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To mark the publication of Dictionary of Untranslatables: A Philosophical Lexicon, we are delighted to share a series of playful graphics by our design team which illustrate some of the most interesting terms from the Dictionary. For  the fourth in the “Untranslatable Tuesdays” series we present Work, with an abridged entry by Pascal David:

FRENCH       travail, oeuvre

GERMAN     Arbeit, Werk

GREEK       ponos, ergon

LATIN         labor, opus

The human activity that falls under the category of “work,” at least in some of its uses, is linked to pain (the French word travail derives from the Latin word for an instrument of torture), to labor (Lat. labor [the load], Eng. “labor”), and to accomplishment, to the notion of putting to work (Gr. ergasomai [ἐϱγάζομαι], Lat. opus, Fr. mise en oeuvre, Eng. “work,” Ger. Werk), which is not necessarily the oppo­site of leisure but can be its partner. With Hegel, work (Ger. Arbeit) becomes a philosophical concept, but it designates self-realization (whether the course of history or the life of God) rather than a reality that is exclusively or even primarily anthropological.

What does work mean to you?

Untranslatable Tuesdays – Kitsch

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To mark the publication of Dictionary of Untranslatables: A Philosophical Lexicon, we are delighted to share a series of playful graphics by our design team which illustrate some of the most interesting terms from the Dictionary. This second week in the “Untranslatable Tuesdays” series we present Kitsch (German):

ENGLISH      junk art, garish art, kitsch

The word Kitsch is German in origin and had previously been translated into French as art de pacotille (junk art) or art tape-á-l’oeil (garish art), but the original term has now become firmly established in all European languages. Used as an adjective, kitsch or kitschy qualifies cultural products intended for the masses and appreciated by them….As a kind of debased popularization, it offers a decadent model that is all the more alluring for being so easily accessible. This is, at least, what its detractors say.

Emily Apter, Jacques Lezra, and Michael Wood discuss the Dictionary of Untranslatables [VIDEO]

Earlier this week, close to one hundred humanities lovers gathered for a discussion around the Dictionary of Untranslatables: A Philosophical Lexicon with editors Emily Apter, Jacques Lezra, and Michael Wood, due out this month from Princeton University Press.

Please enjoy this video of the entire event, the first in this season’s Great New Books in the Humanities series co-sponsored by the Humanities Initiative and by the New York Institute for the Humanities at New York University:

 

Poet, Critic Susan Stewart to Lead Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets

Stewart_Love Lessons_AUphotoPrinceton University Press is pleased to announce that the poet and MacArthur Fellow Susan Stewart will be the new editor for its Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets. She succeeds Paul Muldoon, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and New Yorker poetry editor.

Stewart, who also has had a distinguished career as a critic and translator, is currently the Avalon Foundation University Professor in the Humanities: Professor of English at Princeton University where she teaches aesthetics, poetics, and the history of poetry and directs the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts. Stewart is a past chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the recipient of an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

On her appointment, Susan Stewart said: “At this moment, when American poets have taken so many new directions in their individual poems and the shapes of their books of poems, I look forward to considering a wide range of submissions, from new and established poets alike. The series will, I hope, feature volumes notable for their originality and considered sense of form.”

Princeton Humanities Publisher Rob Tempio said: “Everyone at Princeton University Press is thrilled and honored that Susan has agreed to succeed Paul Muldoon as editor of the Contemporary Poets series. She is a brilliant poet, scholar and critic who is perfectly poised to identify and foster compelling and original voices from all areas of contemporary poetry.”

Stewart will serve for a three year term. Submissions of complete manuscripts for the series may be sent to the Press between the dates of May 1st and May 31st each year and Stewart will announce selections each September.

Princeton University Press published Stewart’s first book of poems Yellow Stars and Ice as part of the Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets in 1981 and also published her translation Love Lessons: Selected Poems of Alda Merini in 2009. Her volumes of poetry include The Hive, The Forest, Red Rover, and Columbarium, which won the 2003 National Book Critics Circle Award.

Through the Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets, the Princeton University Press is dedicated to publishing the best work of today’s emerging and established poets. Starting in 1975 with the publication of Sadness and Happiness: Poems by Robert Pinsky, the series quickly distinguished itself as one of the most important publishing projects of its kind, winning praise from critics and poets alike. Other publications in the series include landmark collections such as Before Recollection (1987) by Ann Lauterbach, Hybrids of Plants and of Ghosts (1980) and Erosion (1983) by Jorie Graham, The Eternal City: Poems (2010) by Kathleen Graber, and Almanac: Poems (2013) by Austin Smith.

Media Inquiries:
Casey LaVela
casey_lavela@press.princeton.edu
609.258.9491

Want to score an internship with Princeton University Press? Our interns offer some advice on maximizing your chances.

Two students interning with Princeton University Press have agreed to answer a few questions about their experiences as interns during the summer 2013 term. Are you interested in becoming an intern with Princeton University Press? Read on for tips and tricks to maximize your success – Brought to you by our Editorial Intern, Anna, and our Social Networking Intern, Holly.

Anna Olkovsky (Smith College)

Title: Editorial Intern
Department: Editorial
College Major: American Studies
Year: Senior

Holly Jennings (Rider University)

Title: Social Networking Intern
Department: Publicity
College Major: Public Relations
Year: Senior

1.) What does your list of duties for the Princeton University Press include?

Anna: “I help the Editorial Assistants in any way I can. Some of my regular assignments include: sending copies of our books to authors, professors, and other scholars in the field; contacting museums and organizations to start the process of getting the rights to use one of their images; and helping with administrative tasks such as photocopying, scanning, and fetching books from the University Library.”

Holly: “I assist the Publicity Director and Assistant Publicity Director/ePublicity Manager. Some of my regular assignments include: Utilizing HTML, CSS, and other variations of code to create content, researching online blogs for specific topics to obtain information for marketing and publicity, adding events to the Princeton University Press facebook site and individual book sites, setting up Facebook pages for each PUP title, watching author interviews/reviews and selecting excerpts to be placed on the blog, posting articles and creating features on the blog, attending departmental meetings to get an overall view of the function of the publicity department, and conducting research related to various books for marketing purposes.”

2.) Are there any special qualifications, skills, or training that you have brought with you to the internship?

Anna: “I have previously completed two other internships, so I am comfortable in an office setting and have had some experience with copyediting, proofreading, and writing blog posts. I have worked as a Writing Tutor at my college for two years now, which has taught me how important it is for academic work to be well-structured, clear, and legible to a general audience. Also, although it hasn’t impacted my work in this internship directly so far, I have always found in interviews that employers are interested in my fluency in another language, so I am proud of the work I have done to achieve that.”

Holly: “I’ve interned with Princeton University Press twice – once as a general Publicity Intern, and now twice as a Social Media Intern. I’ve also interned with Princeton AlumniCorps. Both internships have given me invaluable lessons that have been added to my skill set. I have been doing web design and HTML since I was fairly young – I’ve been self-taught since about 6th grade. My best friend and I used to build HTML/CSS layouts for Xanga, which is an online journal community. Having the skill set to build websites and become familiar with different types of coding is vital to the Social Media Intern position because this is a position heavily based around creativity and putting your own unique touch on things.”

3.) What aspect(s) do you enjoy most about your internship with the Princeton University Press?

Anna: “My favorite part of my internship is the Project Review meeting I get to attend every Thursday. During this meeting, editors who have been in touch with authors and agents about potential books give the rest of the Editorial Department a summary of the project, and then other editors weigh in with their comments about the project. Since a lot of the work I do on a daily basis is pretty administrative, it’s great to be able to see The Press’ work from a more top-down perspective. Plus, most of the new book topics sound fascinating to me!”

Holly: “The aspects I enjoy most about my internship is the freedom to make what you do all your own. In my department, I’m given a lot of freedom to show off my creativity. I’m allowed to create my own projects and am autonomous in making a lot of decisions. This is excellent for building up my portfolio. Since I’ve interned here a few times, I have a endless collection of examples of my own work that I can show to future employers at interviews. All samples of work that I have created at The Press can apply to various job functions – whether they fall under social media, marketing, advertising, public relations, or other occupational areas.”

4.) In what ways do you think this internship will help you in future job endeavors?

Anna: “I applied for this internship because I became interested in academic publishing as a potential career, and wanted to get some hands-on experience to see if I really liked the work and field. This internship has only cemented my desire to work as an editor at an academic press, and it has been a great experience to finally figure out a potential career path and have some sort of clarity about what I’m doing after college. And I’m sure that when I apply to future jobs in publishing, this internship will stand out for the Press’ well-known leadership in the field of academic publishing.”

Holly: “Building off of the previous question, I think being responsible for my own projects has taught me a lot about responsibility and self initiation. It’s easy to mess around when you have little guidelines on exactly how your work should be done. In a Social Media Intern position, you’re your own boss, in a sense – it is real sense of accomplishment knowing that your work comes from your own successes. Future employers want to hire people that know how to step up to the plate and be leaders.”

5.) What job skill(s) learned at the Press do you feel are most vital to your overall career success?

Anna: “There are some more technical skills I have practiced here, such as using the particular software we use to ship orders from our warehouse, but I have also learned a lot about how different departments within the Press work together to support the ultimate goals of publishing great work. Sitting in on meetings with not only the Editorial department, but also with Publicity and Permissions, has given me a good sense of what kinds of work are necessary to get a book published and sold.”

Holly: “The job skills I’ve learned at the Press that I feel are most vital to my overall career success would definitely be the social media postings. I’ve become very savvy with what types of language you should use in Facebook and blog posts. When you learn how to communicate to your company’s specific key publics in a way that resonates with them, you obtain a priceless skill that is transferable to any type of business you may venture into.”

6.) Would you recommend this internship to others?

Anna: “Definitely! It has been a great experience so far, and I have learned a lot about the field of academic publishing. Plus, everyone in the office is really nice, and there’s usually free food in the kitchen.”

Holly: “I would absolutely recommend this internship to others. The Princeton University Press is a very friendly environment. I always feel comfortable asking any of my coworkers for help. There are an unlimited number of projects that greatly benefit your resume for future employers.”

7.) Is there any advice you can give to those applying for internships, looking for jobs in your field, or ways to maximize one’s chance of getting an internship with the Princeton University Press?

Anna: “One piece of advice is definitely to start early when you’re applying for summer internships. The people I know who started looking in December or January ended up having more options, and had their plans figured out earlier, than those who didn’t start applying until March or April. And also, don’t be worried if you don’t have previous experience that’s completely relevant to the publishing world; during my interview, I was able to talk about how my different experiences with research and tutoring have taught me the importance of good written organization. You probably have more relevant skills and experiences than you think you do, and it’s important to emphasize those in your resume and interview.”

Holly: “If there is any advice I can give to those looking to be chosen for an internship at PUP, I would have to say that building your resume is paramount. Play up your strengths, and try to keep job descriptions to the point while highlighting the important duties and accomplishments that apply to the department you are looking to work for. For me, I made it a point to play up my previous employment in retail on my resume. Although one might not think retail relates directly to social media, the interactions with customers and fellow coworkers have taught me a lot about communicating with others, whether it be in person or through the internet. Another strength on my resume is my GPA. I work hard to maintain a very high GPA, because although a GPA may not be everything to employers, it does help you appear to be a promising employee with a steadfast work ethic.”


Apply for one of the internships listed above or any of PUP’s other opportunities: