Staff

 Jennifer Blackburn, Administrative Assistant

Born and raised in the not-so-wild wilds of suburban Boston, Jennifer earned her BA in English from UMass-Amherst and her MFA in Poetry from the University of Arkansas. Twice selected for Best New Poets (2014 & 2016), her work appears in the Massachusetts Review, Indiana Review, The Common and Subtropics, among other magazines. “There’s something about all poetry that satisfies the puzzle player in me. Word play makes me shout and clap my hands. I love quiet poems, too—poems that are (on the surface) about nothing…poems that make readers see that what appeared to a dead end is actually a door to a larger, stranger world.”

CORE INTERNS

Julia Falkner ’19 (Fall ’16 – Spring ’18)

Julia Falkner (’19) is a neuroscience major and poetry concentrator at Smith from Louisville, Colorado. She served as a 2014 National Student Poet, the nation’s highest honor for youth poets creating original work. Her writing has also been recognized by the YoungArts foundation (2015 finalist in poetry) and with five national medals from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. She has read her work at the White House, the Library of Congress, the Poetry Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, and the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. In 2015, Julia designed, coordinated, and implemented eight free poetry workshops that prioritized LGBT poets and narratives for teenagers and young adults in Denver and Boulder, Colorado.

“Studying neuroscience has opened lots of questions for me about what consciousness is and what it may mean. These questions involve poetry just as much as they involve science – the two disciplines are simply different ways of asking. I’m curious about how we perceive light, what our bliss is made of, how our bodies remember what has happened to them. All of my coursework at Smith has left me hungry to write, to reveal what underpins the mind in a creative and interdisciplinary way.”

Janelle Tan ’18 (Fall ’17 – Spring ’18)

“Poetry is language set alight. It is falling in love with a poem’s way of seeing the world, with an unruly image, with someone. When you carry a poem with you, you carry the voice of someone whispering their grief, pain and struggle in your ear.” Janelle Tan (’18) is a city girl with a lifelong love for subway systems, skyscrapers and food from all over the world. She grew up in Singapore speaking English to her mother and Mandarin to her father, but learned Russian and Spanish somewhere along the way and made an attempt at Icelandic. Passionate about poetry, metaphysics, and the color pink, she is a hesitant growing-block theorist and ardent foodie. She has spent summers in Paris and St Petersburg, and recently returned from living abroad in Moscow and London. She considers getting stuck in rush-hour Moscow traffic and crossing the Waterloo bridge every day two of her most bucket list-worthy experiences. “It is every kind of human experience set to the music of rhyme and accents. To live a rich, layered life is to write poetry.”

Piera Varela ’19 (Spring ’18 – Spring ’19)

Piera Varela (’19) grew up in a cohousing community (read: hippie commune) in Durham, North Carolina. Perhaps in part due to this upbringing, they were a weird kid and, frankly, they have only gotten weirder. They have a deep love for the natural world; in another world they’re a herpetologist or a geologist or a hyena behavior specialist, but in this world they hated writing science class reports too much in high school so they’re an English major instead. They’re also interested in theatre and the visual arts—really, any way to tell a story. Piera considers themself a curator/magnet/prince/harbinger of the deeply strange, and they hope this shows in their art. Their poetry tends to blend the beautiful and fantastic with the grotesque. “It’s like one of those things where you stick your hand into a hole and guess what’s beyond, and sometimes it’s a beautiful poem and sometimes it’s a meat creature,” one of their friends once said of them. Another friend said, “Hey, you know how some people are too powerful to live and should be shot? You’re pushing it.” 
 
Look for their dirty, greasy, magical poetry in the October 2018 issue of Cosmonauts Avenue.
 
 
 
 

POETRY CENTER LIAISON

Ewan Hill ’18 (Spring ’18)

Ewan Hill is a queer love ballad, an encyclopedia of cloud facts, a young trans libra. Growing up in Bellingham, WA they spent their childhood roaming the public library. A believer in radical poetic community, they co-founded Pulp Slam in 2017. They are a poet, most recently published by the Academy of American Poets, Public Pool, and bluestockings magazine. In a few short months they will graduate Smith College with an undergraduate degree in history.

 

GLADYS JUSTIN CARR INTERN

Ava Goga ’20 (Spring ’18)

Ava Goga (’20) is a biochemistry major from Reno, Nevada. Their work has been recognized by the YoungArts Foundation as well as the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and they have been published in the Adroit Journal, Winter Tangerine Review, and The Claremont Review. A product of the West, Ava’s poems often incorporate physical landscapes and attempt to glimpse the haunted quality of all that open space.

“Like love, poetry grips me with its whole fist. A good poem knocks the air out of me, makes my jaw clench and my eyes water. Poetry is a method for living deeply, a tool for scraping joy.”

 

SPECIAL PROJECTS INTERN

Savannah N. Tilley (’20) is an English Major and Poetry Concentrator at Smith College from Hardwick, New Jersey. She began writing poetry when she was dancing with Gelsey Kirkland Ballet in Brooklyn, seeking relief from the ballet industry’s glamorous veneer and the violence that lurks within it—scrawling in the backs of theaters and on the F train and even in the tub. Today, living in Smith’s vibrant literary community fuels her passion for growth, in which she desires to pursue a career as an educator and a published poet. She is a Swiss American dual citizen who speaks German and English.

“Poetry gave me agency—over my concerns, my fears. Beyond the desire to be published, the desire to share my love for poetry is what pushes me to pursue an art form that in a technologically consumed society, is in need of a renaissance.”

 

PHOTOGRAPHER

Maia Erslev ‘18
 

 

Past Interns
Traci Williams ’18J
Madison Chafin ’17J
Elizabeth McCormack ’16
Kylie Power-Sullivan ’17
Sophia Deady ’16
Jamie Samdahl ’15
Hannah Young ’15
Katherine (Kitty) Dymek ’14
Janan Scott ’13
Liliana Farrell ’13
Ai-Lien Nguyen ’13
Zeina Dajani ’11
Melissa Davis ’10
Nora Mally ’10
Margaret Zaccardi ’10
Iemanja Brown ’08
Janna White ’07
Tyler Davis ’07
Julia Williams ’07
Sarah Coburn ’07
Collyn Hinchey ’05
Alexandra Goldschmidt ’04
Elizabeth Yang-Hellewell ’04
Batinah Amarita Rabia Dawdy ’03
Allison Hector ’03
Neda Maghbouleh ’04
Katherine Hagner ’02
Monica Dacumos ’02
Stephanie Faith Wiens ’01
Taymiyra Zaman ’01
Binta Jeffers ’00
Senait Kassahun ’01
Abe Louise Young ’99