When signing up for and taking classes, students usually think of them as little other than courses required for their majors. Some students think they will only occasionally learn something from classes. They take them simply to fill in AOIs or to fit a time slot. However, other students go above and beyond that mindset.
Senior Vladislav Frederick took English 199 his junior year. That year, he switched his major to English. Carol Spaulding-Kruse, professor of English, helped him with his transition since he was late in the process, but Frederick is grateful she did.
“She was an excellent guide, providing feedback on reflections I submitted and encouragement during the whole process,” Frederick said.
Frederick said that without Spaulding-Kruse’s aid he might never have experienced the poetry he now loves. Instead, he enrolled in the course and began working with Jennifer Perrine, assistant professor of English, and the Younger American Poets Reading Series.
The series is dedicated to bringing new and experienced poets to Des Moines for their own nights of reading and discussion about their works, advice and poetry in general. YAPRS began in 2011 and has grown rapidly since its inception.
Frederick joined the group when it began. He admitted that he was a bit behind because he had just started his English major, but he began learning as soon as he joined the group.
“Quickly I learned that for the folks running any reading series, there are a million logistical, publicity and fundraising duties that go into making the event a success,” he said.
Throughout his time in the class, Frederick was involved with every aspect of YAPRS. He put up posters, spoke to classes at Drake and nearby high schools, approached businesses for funding and helped set up and take down the events.
His favorite part of the process was writing introductions for the visiting poets.
“A good introduction reflects a deep respect for and interest in the works of the poet you are introducing, which makes any good intro a labor of love,” he said.
Frederick said the poets were appreciative of his intros, and his greatest reward was seeing their reactions. He also said he learned about the importance of the fine arts.
“It’s these kinds of partnerships that turn communities into rich and vibrant followers of the arts, which makes me all the more proud to be a student at a university that engages in these partnerships,” he said.
YAPRS is sponsored by Drake University and has the necessary funding to draw well-known authors who give students valuable information about writing after college.
As one of these interns, Frederick became quite attached to YAPRS. He worked through his spring, summer and fall semesters with the internship and then found a new opportunity. Perrine, the coordinator of the series at the time, was looking for candidates to fill her position. Frederick took over her position, and Michaela Mullin and Joel Nathanael became co-coordinators
Together, the three new coordinators planned to “work on the series and push it to new heights.” This included getting the organization its own bank account, mailing address and board of directors. These improvements helped YAPRS become an accredited, stand-alone nonprofit organization. Though Frederick admitted this meant many more fundraisers and various challenges for the group, he said this step is one that YAPRS needed to take, and it will greatly benefit the series.
YAPRS will have two of its biggest authors yet for its next event. Poets Robert Fernandez and Mark Levine will be at Beaverdale Books on May 3 at 7 p.m. Fernandez has won a Gertrude Stein Award for Innovative Poetry and has been selected as a New American Poet by the Poetry Society of America. Levine is also successful and is considered, by Frederick as “one of the biggest names in poetry that our series has ever had the privilege of hosting.” He is a recipient of the Whiting Award and a National Endowment for the Arts.