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Caption: Mindi Popovich ’15 interned at Image this summer.  Courtesy Photo | Mindi Popovich
Caption: Mindi Popovich ’15 interned at Image this summer.
Courtesy Photo | Mindi Popovich

Mindi Popovich ’15 lived an English major’s dream this summer as an intern at Image Journal in Seattle, Wash­ington.

The recent Hillsdale College graduate and Pratt, Kansas, native worked as an admin­is­trative intern at the lit­erary journal which Gregory Wolfe ’80 founded in 1989. Popovich first met Wolfe, pub­lisher and editor of the journal; his wife and Image Exec­utive Editor Suzanne Wolfe; and many artists and writers asso­ciated with the quar­terly pub­li­cation in fall 2014, when they visited campus for a cel­e­bration of Image’s 25th anniversary.

“When everyone from Image was on campus I was very impressed with who they were as people,” Popovich said. “It was a really good expe­rience, seeing a dif­ferent side of pub­lishing. Mostly I’ve worked in com­mercial places, but Image was more cre­ative.”

Image Journal is a quar­terly lit­erary pub­li­cation that Wolfe founded to “demon­strate the con­tinued vitality and diversity of con­tem­porary art and lit­er­ature that engage with the reli­gious tra­di­tions of Western culture,” according to the Image website. Image pub­lishes prose, poetry, and art that show­cases artistic achievement not rep­re­sented in other circles, with the journal’s cover bearing the tagline “Art. Faith. Mystery.”

Popovich had plans to pursue a career in pub­lishing, and a summer as one of Image’s three interns worked per­fectly with that goal, con­necting her with the pub­lishing industry and pro­viding prac­tical expe­rience. She and her fellow interns worked to dig­itize and cat­e­gorize Image’s new online archives, which meant an oppor­tunity to read the journal and acquaint herself with the con­tem­porary work that it pub­lishes. Work from Kathleen Norris, Franz Wright, and Gregory Orr espe­cially stood out to her.

“Mindi gave a huge boost to our office’s pro­duc­tivity this summer, helping with events, mar­keting, and with our tran­sition to a totally revamped website,” Mary Kenagy Mitchell, Image’s man­aging editor, said in an email. “We were all impressed with the way she took ini­tiative in projects, by how pro­fes­sionally and cour­te­ously she con­ducted herself, and by how metic­ulous and respon­sible she was. In return, she got to see how a small, thriving non­profit works from the inside — the good, the bad, and the coor­di­nated chaos.”

Popovich was inspired to go into pub­lishing because of what she sees as the dismal state of much young adult and children’s lit­er­ature available today. After reading Win­ter­girls, a 2010 young adult novel by Laurie Halse Anderson which focuses on two teenage pro­tag­o­nists with eating dis­orders, Popovich was struck by the hopeless tone of the book.

“It’s [eating dis­orders], a really important topic to talk about because it’s some­thing a lot of people struggle with,” Popovich said. “But the novel was very nihilistic, a symptom of general society and how self­ishly we think about things. I was so dis­turbed by that.”

For Popovich, Image Journal rep­re­sents a place for con­tem­porary writers who want to incor­porate other themes into their writing.

“In con­tem­porary lit­er­ature there’s no hope and no striving for beauty and every­thing is very edgy and very sen­sa­tional,” she said. “Image creates the com­munity for writers who want to explore themes of faith, combine faith and beauty, and want to look into the void and see some­thing that is not the void.”

Popovich wasn’t alone on the West Coast for the summer, but she doesn’t think she’s cut out for the big city. Other Hillsdale alumni in Seattle and Portland allowed her to enjoy time with friends, amid sec­re­tarial and admin­is­trative work for the journal, a two-hour commute, and new places to explore. She’s joining an Eastern Orthodox church, and the parish life was another source of com­munity for her and her co-intern (and student at nearby Spring Arbor Uni­versity) Alexandra Harper.

“I had a nice com­munity out there and I think it kept me from being homesick,” she said.

Cre­ating com­munity is also where Image excels, according to Popovich. Through its Glen Workshop pro­grams, writers find fel­lowship with like-minded artists.

“The whole summer, we got letters from writers who went to the Glen,” Popovich said. “Cre­ating a space for authors who have a goal with their writing is def­i­nitely the most important part of what Image does.”

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A senior from Long Island, New York studying English, McCaffery is a student columnist on the Collegian Opinion page this year. He is also editor-at-large for The Hillsdale Forum campus magazine. McCaffery completed an editorial page internship at USA Today last summer. email: mccaff.c@gmail.com | twitter: @cmccafe