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Monday Memories: NCLR Students Past and Present

by Margaret Bauer, Editor

Max Herbert (right) with Founding Editor Alex Albright, Editor Margaret Bauer, and NC writer Jim Grimsley, circa 2018

How many years ago was it when I walked into an early day of my women’s literature class to find a woman who called herself Max already had the students talking about the novel we were reading? Hmmm, I wondered, but not for long, will this outspoken student be an asset or a problem? She was slightly older than the others (though hard to tell how much as she has an ever-youthful smile). Would she dominate? Intimidate? She was definitely an asset. Always prepared. Typically early and ready to get started discussing as soon as another student came in, apparently. Some days she arrived leaning on a cane, a bad day for her chronic pain, and yet there she was, in class. She would take her seat on the aisle to my left, lay her cane on the floor, pull out her novel, and seem to forget her suffering as she jumped into whatever questions she brought for the day’s discussion. That class remains vivid in my memory of almost 30 years of such classes at ECU, thanks largely to Max’s infectious enthusiasm.  

Of course I then invited Max to intern with NCLR. And no surprise, she brought that enthusiasm to her new position. Christy and I discovered her love of art and when she wanted to return to the staff for another internship, we partnered her with Diane to help with art selections for the issue, as we try to give interns different experiences when they return for a second semester. 

2024 print issue cover

And now, a half dozen years later, Max’s own art is on our 2024 issue cover, as well as inside with one of the essays. I knew when I saw these collage pieces on social media that they would find their way into our pages. I shared them with Diane, and she agreed, matching it to an essay in the Disability Literature feature section we were working on. Then off to Dana with other feature art, and Dana selected one of the works for the cover!  

Meeting students like Max Herbert in my classrooms, getting to know them even better around the NCLR meeting table and staff office serve as a daily inspiration. This summer, NCLR has several graduate students moving content through production, working on book reviews, providing Devra with social media content. One of these students, Onyx Bradley, is returning this week after a research trip for the thesis they are also working on this summer, while another, Wendy Tilley, has just left for a writers’ conference she received a scholarship to attend. Shelby Hans has been working on expanding one of the abstracts she wrote for my class last semester into a conference paper she will present at the end of the month. And Amber Knox, an undergraduate intern a few years ago, who returned as a graduate assistant this past year, sent me her paper from our spring 2023 North Carolina literature class, which she wants to develop into her CAP project as she completes her M.A. program.  

So proud of them all, I am feeling grateful that ECU—the graduate program, the English program—provides students (and me) with this opportunity for gaining valuable experience in publication working with our award-winning literary magazine.