My time in New York City is fast approaching. I can’t even believe it’s finally here. I’ve been absorbed by the New York Arts Program from the moment I heard about it. My first quarter at Kalamazoo College I took a freshman seminar entitled “Spread the Word: Poetry in the Community” with poet Diane Seuss. Before meeting Di, I thought poetry was something I loved but couldn’t do. Within weeks of taking that seminar, my confidence and, let’s face it, complete obsession with poetry was fully embraced. A couple weeks into freshman year, an e-mail from Di popped up in my inbox with the subject line “field trip.” The e-mail detailed the New York Arts Program. From then on, I was hooked.
I’m not sure what the application process is like at other colleges (it’s a Great Lakes Colleges Association program, so there are a number of colleges that participate), but at Kalamazoo College it’s pretty damn competitive. The application includes two letters of recommendation (mine were written by Di Seuss and Chris Latiolais, philosophy professor and quite possibly the smartest man you will ever meet), a résumé, a letter of intent, a copy of a recent class paper, and a portfolio, if applicable. After turning all that in, we were all interviewed by a board of representatives of the arts at Kalamazoo College. I was so nervous I was burning up…I’m sure the profs conducting the interview were worried I might spontaneously combust. I felt like one of those girls on America’s Next Top Model who keeps repeating “I want this so badly and I just don’t want to see somebody else take my dream.” Pathetic, I know. But I just can’t do anything halfway. If I want something, I want it with every cell in my body. I’m a fiercely passionate person.
Getting the interview over with was a welcomed relief. I could finally stop fretting over perfecting my app, a process that began the moment I heard about the program. Of course, it only opened the door for me to start worrying about the news of whether or not I had gotten in. So many of my friends, who are extremely intelligent, impressive people, had applied…and on top of that, there were even more applicants I didn’t know. I’m sure I was becoming completely impossible to live with, going crazy with anticipation. When I heard I was one of the five people from Kalamazoo College who was going to participate in the program, I was ECSTATIC. I called everyone I knew and, of course, posted it on facebook right away.
In December my mom and I spent three days in New York City so I could interview for my internship. We spent an embarrassing amount of time gawking at the Whole Foods grocery store in Chelsea. I had more fun looking around in there than I’ve ever had in the mall in Portage. In New York, everything is at your fingertips. I’d been to the city once before, but that was a choir trip with a big group. Every moment of our time was scheduled, and we barely set foot outside the Theater District. I had had about enough of those horrible little stores that sell knick-knacks that fulfill your every “I <3 NYC” need. This trip was more spontaneous and relaxed. We ate dinner at this tiny Italian restaurant called “Restivo” the second night. The ravioli was so good it was like dessert. That’s definitely a gem I’m keeping in my back pocket. Another highlight was the incredible antique store a couple doors down from our hotel. We could have spent days in there without being able to see everything. Typewriters, clocks, mirrors, anchors, medicine balls, keys, mantles, crystal doorknobs, chandeliers…I loved it.
The true star of the trip was Poets House, the organization where I will be an intern in a little over a week. Poets House recently moved to a beautiful location on the Hudson River. The foundation of the new building rests upon earth moved out into the Hudson displaced from the construction of the World Trade Center Towers. Poets House was founded in an actual house, but competed with other non-profit organizations to move to the 10 River Terrace location when it began to grow. I knew Poets House was perfect for me even before I walked through the doors. It’s so open and beautiful, with a green park along the water and fresh air. I got there early, so I was able to spend some time in the library before my interview. When I walked up the stairs and caught sight of the books, I momentarily expected Gene Wilder to pop out and start singing about a world of pure imagination. It’s that amazing. Poets House has the largest library of poetry open to the public in the entire country. There are over 50,000 books, in addition to an extensive collection of literary magazines, chapbooks, audio files, books on the subject of poetry…basically anything my heart could desire. I immediately wanted to read it all. If I could just take a sleeping bag with me and never leave Poets House that would be ideal.
This post turned into a monster, but rightly so. I know that this experience will change my poetry and my life. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous…but it’s a good kind of nervous.