Funded Intern Franny Weed ’21 Explores World of Alternative Publishing
As a poet and aspiring published writer, Weed wanted to find a position in the publishing world to learn how the industry works.
She started working for Small Press Distribution (SPD), a nonprofit literary book distributor in Berkeley, California, in February, during a leave of absence from Bowdoin. Initially her position was in person, and she spent a few blissful weeks helping to restock the press's warehouse, as well as assisting the office's marketing arm.
“It was fun being around books all day,” Weed reflected recently, with a bit of nostalgia. Because, when the pandemic hit, she had to stop working for the company.
To make it financially possible to continue working for the distributor remotely, she decided to apply for a funded internship* from Bowdoin. “I wanted to preserve those relationships and keep working at this place,” she said.
After being awarded a Robert S. Goodfriend Summer Internship grant from Bowdoin Career Exploration and Development, Weed returned to SPD as an intern this summer. This time, she's based in Colorado, and she's focused on publicizing new books through social media channels.
Weed was drawn to SPD because it specializes in boosting voices often overlooked by mainstream book publishers.
“SPD is the only distributor that works with independent publishers and small presses, so they work with publishers that mostly publish writers who are queer, women, or people of color,” Weed said. “They've been doing this work for fifty years and have a big following.”
She's also getting a glimpse into a sector vitally important to writers. She herself is a poet and writer of nonfiction.
“I feel way more tapped into the poetry world by knowing what poets are publishing and when they’re publishing,” she added. “And seeing more of what the poetry and literary landscape looks like is inspiring. Being around writers is really exciting, because it shows you what it would be like to be a writer and working in the literary world. It is pretty encouraging!”
*This summer 102 students have funded internships—which are small grants from the Bowdoin Career Exploration and Development—to work for nonprofits or businesses that could not provide their own internship stipends.
A few favorite classes
Reading Uncle Tom's Cabin, with Peter M. Small Associate Professor of Africana Studies and English Tess Chakkalakal: “The classroom dynamic was so special. Everyone was so engaged and cared so much about what we talked about, because Prof. Chakkalakal makes you care and inspires you and pushes you really hard to clarify what you’re saying.”
Ecopoetics: Poetry and the Environment, with Assistant Professor of English Samia Rahimtoola. “The class opened my mind to environmentalist poetry that I had never read before or thought about before, and it introduced me to the whole world of Bay Area contemporary poets. In that class, for the final, you could do a creative project or critical essay. It is so inspiring to have a professor who takes creative writing as seriously as academic writing.”
Introduction to Poetry Writing Workshop and Creative Writing: Poetry II, with Senior Writer in Residence Anthony Walton: “It was a more formal study of poetry, and it was really exciting to be in classes where people were taking poetry seriously. And having to write a poem or two poems every week was good for me, and balanced the rest of my schoolwork.”