Marissa Bianco ’13 waded right into the publishing world with an internship at Minneapolis’s Milkweed Editions.
“My life was basically reading fiction and poetry,” Marissa Bianco ’13 says happily. Bianco (Brooklyn, N.Y.), an English major/Hispanic studies minor, was especially immersed in literature this semester, while working as an intern for Milkweed Editions of Minneapolis.
“It’s really exciting when the editor agrees with your opinion.”
Milkweed publishes “transformative literature” in the fiction, literary non-fiction, and poetry genres. Bianco spent much of her 24-hour weeks there wading through a pile of unsolicited manuscripts and preparing reader reports on them. “There’s a lot of terrible writing out there, especially in the young adult fiction category where so many people are blatantly imitating Twilight,” she says. “But I’ve found some great things, too.”
A creative writing student at Macalester, Bianco is excited that three of her recommendations already have been endorsed by Milkweed editors as manuscripts to look at more closely. “It’s really exciting when the editor agrees with your opinion,” she says. She also has done proofreading and other editorial tasks for the publisher, and is currently preparing a discussion guide for a forthcoming collection by a prominent Brazilian poet.
That last project sparked an interest in Bianco—who is fluent in Spanish—in a possible future as a literary translator. “I’ve read a lot of translations in my Spanish classes and I’m frustrated by many of them,” says the junior, who grew up speaking Spanish at home with her Puerto Rican mother. “Too often they sacrifice the literary integrity of the work for the sake of clarity. But a really great author pores over every single word they write—each word is significant.”
The Milkweed internship application progress was more rigorous than those of New York publishers, Bianco found. One thing that helped her win a spot was a recommendation from Milkweed marketing director Ethan Rutherford, who’d taught a creative writing class at Macalester.
Along with earning four credits, Bianco says she learned a tremendous amount at Milkweed. Among those lessons: “First and foremost, I’m a writer,” she says. “And I’ve found that publishing is tedious and time-consuming work that wouldn’t leave much time or energy for writing.”