LRRewind: Episode 1

LRRewind: Episode 1: Introductions

Hey everyone! I’m Rylee, the 2022 Long River Review intern. Welcome to Episode One of the Long River Rewind. That’s the official, brand-new Long River Review podcast being launched this year. Woohoo!

I’ve never actually recorded a podcast before. So, Episode One will mostly just be me getting used to the sound of my own voice and kind of having a conversation with you about what the Long River Review actually is, and what it will look like throughout the new academic year. In the future, we’ll have guests. Lots of very cool guests. But for now, it’s just me. 

So who am I? Like I said, I’m Rylee Thomas. I’m a junior at the University of Connecticut, double majoring in English and Communication. My favorite color is pink. I’m the president of the figure skating team. And my micro-obsession is all things Jane Austen. I write poetry and prose, fiction and creative nonfiction. Basically anything. But I cannot draw at all, which is a bummer because I’ve always wanted to create a comic book. Hmm. What else can I say about me? I was terrified of dogs until my family rescued a cocker spaniel black lab mix two years ago. And now I love them. Like most people, I worship coffee and tea, especially matcha and Chai. This morning, I actually had an iced chai from Starbucks with pumpkin syrup and pumpkin cream cold foam. It was so good. Summer is my all-time favorite season because I hate being cold. But fall is so pretty here in New England. So fall is a close second for me. I’m also very ready for pumpkin-flavored treats. So there’s that. My favorite show at the moment is Derry Girls. My favorite book and current reread is Emma by Jane Austen. My favorite singer is Taylor Swift. When I’m happy I reread Jane Austen books. When I’m sad, I either read Anna Karenina, or Twilight: New Moon

So, that’s my personality. But the reason I’m here and talking to you is because I’m the new intern for the Long River Review. I’m actually the first-ever intern for the Long River Review, which is pretty cool. And I’m super honored. 

Before we jump into things, I should probably tell you a little bit about what the Long River Review actually is. It’s our school’s undergraduate literary magazine. Every spring, we send out a call for submissions to colleges all across the country. Well, not just colleges. We accept submissions from anybody and everybody, which includes high schoolers and also regular adults living in the world. We publish all kinds of submissions. We have poetry, short stories, excerpts from longer works (perhaps novels), translations, artwork of any variety, and any kind of mixed medium creative work. Last year, for example, we actually published two wonderful comics, which were so beautifully done. 

So, submissions for our magazine are pretty competitive. We have a very involved selection process, where our editorial panels rank the submissions based on quality and adherence to the theme. While we’re on the subject, I’ll let you in on a little secret. We’re probably not going to have a theme this year. It was cool to have a theme in years past. Last year, for instance, our theme was Resilience and Perseverance. But after discussing it, Professor Litman and I agreed that we found the theme kind of limiting. So, this year, we’re taking anything and everything for real this time. Any subject matter, any kind of outlook on life. For real, go nuts. Maybe a theme will emerge naturally. Maybe not. Either way, we’re excited to read your pieces.

Anyway, so back to our submissions. A small percentage of our published pieces come from our contest winners. Those would be the Collins Literary Fund, the Jenny Hackman Memorial Prize, the Wallace Stevens Poetry Prize, and so many more. That’s the cool thing about the contests. Not only do you what a huge honor and a cash prize, but, if you want to, you automatically get to be in our journal. Pass go, collect $300, the whole nine yards. 

So, in essence, our magazine is pretty much the coolest thing ever. However, there’s a lot more to what we do than simply the submission process. First of all, there’s our website, and our blog. The blog, of course, lives rent-free in a very special place in my heart, because I was one of the two blog editors last year. In terms of the actual compilation and publication of our zine, we’re only active in the spring semester. But now that you have your super cool Long River Review intern, yours truly, we are going to be running the blog pretty much year-round. So, stay tuned for updates there and keep checking our websites. 

I guess that begs the question: Rylee, how do I stay tuned for updates there? Well, that’s an easy answer. All you have to do is follow us on social media. We’re going to try to keep an active Facebook and Twitter, but our Instagram is really where it’s at. I’ll be posting blog post roundups there, and also random fun interesting things. Like, right now, I’m working on a spooky book recommendation list, which is going to be super seasonal and fun for all of you autumn lovers. We’ll also have updates about when we’ll start hiring our 2023 editorial staff. If you want to help us create the Long River Review this year, you’ll want to apply roughly around Thanksgiving. We’ll be needing poetry editors, fiction editors, creative nonfiction, editors, translation editors, blog editors, etc, etc. If you want to know more about exactly what you need to do to submit your application, you’ll want to— say with me— follow our Instagram and check it regularly. So, there are a few other things you should know about us. 

Next, we have our super cool fundraisers and social events. Last year, for instance, we had two Blind Date with a Book fundraisers. We basically stood at a table on Fairfield Way near the Student Union and sold piles and piles of wrapped-up, donated books at $5 per book. The first time we did it, it was freezing, but we had hot chocolate. The second time, it was just a beautiful day outside. It was spring, the sun was shining, we were finally able to put away our coats. Both times, all the books were gone within literally an hour and a half. These fundraisers cover a lot of our publication and printing costs. And our party costs. So, they’re pretty important to us. This fall, I’m hoping to have at least one Blind Date with a Book event. I’m thinking a Halloween-themed one. Can you tell I’m ready for fall yet? 

Gosh, what else should I tell you? Oh yeah, we’re ordering new merch this year. Last year, we ordered Long River Review tote bags, which was a big deal. I use mine every day to carry my clothes to and from the Rec Center. I love a good yoga class. There’s nothing better to carry my keys and water bottle in than my old reliable Long River Review tote bag. But anyway, this year, we are getting pens, mechanical pencils, buttons, more stickers, lots of very cool things.

Well, I’ve got to be forgetting something. But that’s it. We have future podcast episodes for that. That conveniently brings me to our most exciting topic of conversation. This podcast! We’re going to be talking about so many cool bookish things over the course of the semester. And the next semester. I’m hoping to record weekly or bi-weekly episodes. I want to tell you— you, the UConn student, or person otherwise interested in the Long River Review, or whoever you are— so many things. Whatever exciting shenanigans the Long River Review is getting up to at any point, you’ll be the first to hear about it right here on this podcast. We’re calling it the Long River Rewind, which I thought was a clever little pun. 

But anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. That is not all. I want to have a lot of guests on this podcast. For instance, I’m doing an independent study this semester with four other very cool writers. There’s our amazing professor, Professor Litman, who is supervising our projects. Then there are Cameron, Allison, and other Alyson. They’re all writing novels, like me. So, we figured we’d band together to talk about them and edit them together. They’re my intrepid writing group, and they have lots of fascinating things to share. I’d love to bring any of them and all of them on the show. There are also so many cool professors, faculty members and other students who would all the incredible to feature as well. Professor Forbes will be leading the Long River Review in the spring, when I’ll have the honor of serving as Editor-in-Chief. He would be an awesome guest. 

From a totally different sphere, I’m super interested in humanities-based research. I’m honored to have an undergraduate fellowship at the UConn Humanities Institute this semester. That’s actually the organization that’s funding my novel. Along with the wonderful professor Litman, they’re mentoring me as I write it. It’d be amazing to have any of the faculty or grad student fellows on the show. Their projects are incredible, and, most of the time, a little bit out of my depth. Seems to me that if we have them on the show, we can unpack them together and really get an in-depth perspective on their work. 

The Long River Rewind also seems like a great place to introduce you to some of the other cool literary and creative organizations on the UConn campus, which we hope the Long River Review might be able to partner with in the future. For instance, there’s the Honors Humanities and Arts Collective, affectionately called HArCo, which also publishes a zine. I’d love to have some representatives from HArCo on the show. There’s also Literary Minds, and all sorts of other cool bookish organizations on campus that I’d love to introduce you to.

So, I promised myself that I’d talk for 15 minutes, and it looks like we have a little more time. I’d love to talk to you a little bit more about my novel. When I was a freshman, I got a super awesome grant from the Holster Scholar program to conduct a study on feminism in Victorian and Regency Era novels. A lot of these novels were gothic novels, a lot of which featured a symbol of the madwoman in the attic. Basically, the madwoman is a feminist symbol for forcibly repressed emotions in women. I wrote this super long paper about it last summer. It was tons of fun. I loved the process of writing it. Around the same time, I was also inspired to write a sort of Gothic novel of my own. Mine is contemporary. It’s about two cousins who spend the summer living in a haunted house in a rural small town in Connecticut. They have very diametrically opposed personalities. One of them, named Adair, is kind of the tough, brave, though slightly abrasive person I sometimes wish I was more like. The other, Bellamy, is a little bit more shy, but very kindhearted and imaginative. At the heart of the story is a bit of a murder mystery. Adair’s best friend dies in a tragic accident a year before the story takes place, and Adair essentially wants revenge. Bellamy, on the other hand, is just very lonely. They have lots of crazy adventures together. Most notably, Adair develops the ability to see ghosts, while Bellamy gets mixed up with a lot of dangerous people. 

So, anyway, I’m excited to work on that project this semester. It’s very close to my heart, and I’d love to finish it. Wouldn’t that be nice? Pretty much my dream is to publish young adult novels, especially this young adult novel. Professor Litman is going to help me, and so are the UCHI fellows. So are the three other awesome writers in my independent study. I already have over 100,000 words written, which is kind of a problem. A good problem to have, but it does mean there’s a lot to cut. Luckily, I have the whole year to work on it. It’s a great opportunity, and I’m really thankful. 

Yeah, I don’t think we have quite 15 minutes. But it’s great to meet you all, or to introduce myself to you all, at least. I couldn’t be happier about working so closely with the magazine this year. I’m super excited to record this podcast and to keep chatting with you every week or so. Stay tuned for Episode Two, which should be coming out very shortly. Make sure to keep checking in with our blog. And again, be sure to follow us on Instagram @lrr_uconn. Thanks for listening! Bye. See you next time.

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