Meet Blake Bergeron and Jane Dykema, the new NOÖ/MHP editorial assistants!
So according to all the burnished leaves swirling around in the parking lot outside the office where I work forty hours a week, sometimes a guy needs help creeping into his off-time and doing magazines and books.
And I’m like: you crazy leaves. Nobody ever needs help with anything.
But the leaves are right, and I’m wrong, which is why I’m so grateful to have the help of Tyler Gobble and Austin Hayden, as well as NOÖ’s crew of submission readers, and now with two new Editorial Assistants (I love fake job titles) from the UMass-Amherst MFA program: Blake Bergeron and Jane Dykema.
They’re already helping out with NOÖ Weeklys (the newest of which I will tell you about in the next post), reviews, interviews, organization, and even some cool new projects like the Live NOÖ Grand Marquis/Grandpa Markee Sessions (name TBD) that will be exciting as they sound.
What I can tell you is that Blake likes sesame sticks and Jane likes hummus. The rest they can tell you themselves!
BLAKE BERGERON Q&A
Do you ever climb things that aren’t in pictures?
It’s been hard ever since I hired that documentary film crew.
What is the best vista you’ve ever witnessed?
Other than Windows with its sweet spread of backgrounds? Probably the view from the top of Conundrum Creek in Aspen, CO. I was sitting in a hot spring with a naked nature lover named Evan Ravitz. He hikes up to the hot springs and lives there for two or three weeks each summer. He loves chatting up all of the other backpackers and lives off their unwanted food after they leave. I asked him if he had any use for a red pepper I brought with me, to which he replied,”I reckon I’ll eat it.”
Have you ever read or written a poem that competed with a vista?
A lot of Wordsworth does I guess. Yet, I’m drawn to a recent Dean Young poem, “Everyday Escapees.” I suppose it’s the lines between the third and fourth stanza: “Finally, / when I got off at the sixth floor, I felt / like I was walking out into the sky / and aren’t we all pedestrians of air?”
As for my poems, they’re too busy competing with themselves.
Can the silence experienced by a group together at the top of a rock be achieved in poetry or would everybody need to, like, hold the same piece of paper like a Ouija board?
I’m not sure. I’ll try to get some research funding and find out. Does anybody have a Ouija board?
JANE DYKEMA Q&A
Where did you grow up? What is one interesting character you remember from your hometown?
I grew up in Bay City, Michigan, a depressed, white-ass town nestled in the dip between the thumb and fingers of Michigan’s mitten shape. In the fall it smells like sugar beets being processed. I encourage you to check out the Notable Events in City History here.
In Bay City there is a divorce lawyer named Tom who said if he were ever to have a business that needed trucks, and he only had, say, three trucks, he would number them 1, 8 and 34 so that people would see them around town and think his business was booming.
What are some of your favorite books?
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter – Carson McCullers
To the Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf
The Sea, the Sea – Iris Murdoch
The Fire Next Time – James Baldwin
The House on Mango Street – Sandra Cisneros
Cosmicomics – Italo Calvino
Hunger – Knut Hamsun
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime – Mark Haddon
Every Christmas I read Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger.
Right now I’m reading novellas and I love Down the Rabbit Hole by Juan Pablo Villalobos and Pale Horse Pale Rider by Katherine Anne Porter.
When did you first realize language could make people feel things?
When I was a little kid and I read The Giver for school and I cried all afternoon. And then when I was a little older and I read Beloved and hated every human except Toni Morrison.
What is your favorite meal?
Matar Paneer or Mujadara or Huevos Rancheros or whatever on the menu has avocados and onions and cheese. Also every breakfast food. I mostly eat cereal at home.
Once upon a time I saw you read a story out loud about working at a youth center where everyone sold drugs. It was really funny and grim. Can you tell us about it?
This community center was your typical “at risk youth” program run by some Harvard weenie. We were kids watching kids in a resource-poor setting, so you’re bound to get some supplemental income activity sprouting up. While I was there I knew I was getting an education I’d be able to write about, but I didn’t try for about six years. It takes me a long time to think about things and another long time to write about them.
Now can you relate your experience to this tangential follow-up with two colons in it: everybody knows that people in interesting frameworks reveal themselves interestingly, but I want to know what you think about people and stories: is it more like you meet a person and then you’re like “oh man that person is gonna give me a story to make” or is it more like you remember a group of people (a time, a place) and you realize you’ve got a story waiting?
So: as I’m drawn to people who would be great to write stories about because they’re interesting and/or make me feel extreme emotions, I write down things they say and then sit on them for a long time, till I can mash two or three real people into one character. And then, maybe because so much time has passed, I mix up sometimes who’s who, what really happened and what I’m making up. Yikes!
Welcome Blake and Jane!