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Meet Development Intern Sonjirose Chin

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In fall 2020, Sonjirose Chin started as a development intern at Cave Canem through her participation in the City University of New York (CUNY) Cultural Corps. The program provides internship opportunities for CUNY students to work in the New York City cultural sector, and is designed to address a lack of diversity in the cultural institutions in the City. In this interview, Poetry Coalition Fellow Christopher J. Greggs speaks with Chin about her experience working at Cave Canem as she prepares to graduate from the Borough of Manhattan Community College this spring.

 


It has been great to have you on our team this year working with the development team. Share with us a little about your background and how you found out about Cave Canem.
I am 20-years-old, born in NYC, a dog mom, and lover of springtime. I am a last semester student at Borough of Manhattan Community College. I found out about Cave Canem through CUNY Cultural Corps during the job fair. 

It sounds like you had a lot of choices when it came to potential internships. Why did you want to intern with us?
I was instantly attracted to the logo, and I believe I saw Cave Canem before on books in passing. Once I was interviewed and the company’s ethos was explained to me, I knew it was the perfect fit for me.

Oh, wow! What experiences and/or connections do you have with Black Poetry?
My experiences with Black poetry are with my older sisters. They both wrote poems in their youth, and I was exposed to poetry and literature at a young age. In high school, I wrote my own poems, with some focusing on my experiences as a bisexual Afro-Asian woman. 

I’m always curious how people find their way to poetry. Who are five of your favorite poets? Can you share a poem you have been living with recently?
Some of my favorite poets are Rupi Kaur, Halsey, Margaret Atwood, Sylvia Plath, and Anne Sexton. Recently, a poem that has been close to me is “On Children” by Kahlil Gibran. My nieces are visiting and remembering they are their own persons; this poem embodies that. That children will have their own ideas and lives, that will not always be similar to my own and I find that so exciting! My nieces are such wonderful little beings, and I can’t wait to see who they are once they start understanding themselves more. 

That’s so thoughtful! I have to check out that poem. So, this year has been virtual of course. I’m curious. What has your experience been like at Cave Canem? What have you learned?
I have learned about balancing time management: the importance of setting time aside for work but also rest. Also being a part of a team that looks like me and cares so deeply about one another and the community they represent. I learned that my well-being comes first and with that I’ll be able to do my best when it comes to the work I produce. 

You’re interning with Development Manager Lisa Willis and Development Coordinator Natalie Desrosiers. What did you learn about the role development plays in cultural non-profits?
I learned nothing happens without development. From brainstorming, pre-planning, to actually planning—so much work goes into it! I had to look at everything from a coordinator’s perspective, and now I understand so much more as a consumer.

How do you see your internship at Cave Canem contributing to your life goals?
I see Cave Cave contributing to my life goals of understanding another sector of the workforce. I never had any experience in the nonprofit field before, but this internship has given me so much insight in event planning, searching for sponsors, communicating with diverse professionals, and so much more. As I continue on in my career and academics, I will use the knowledge gained during my time here! 

So, what’s next for you?
I am graduating this semester with my Associates in psychology! I am hoping to transfer to NYU Gallatin in media psychology. But for the immediate future, spend the summer with friends and travel locally. 

Aye! Congrats, Sonji! We’re so happy for you. I know that the pandemic must have added all kinds of pressures to that achievement. On a personal note, I wanted to share that it was wonderful to work with you and benefit from your contributions to our team. I admired your empathy and intersectional approach to the work we do to uplift Black poets. I know that wherever your journey takes you will be bettered by your spirit and perspective.

 

Sonjirose Chin was raised in Williamstown, NJ and now resides in New York City. She studies psychology at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, and hopes to attend New York University’s Gallatin School to study media psychology with a focus on Black women’s sexuality in relation to the media. Outside of academics, she loves day trips with friends, walking her dogs, reading, discussing philosophy, photography, and attending concerts. 

Christopher J. Greggs is a poet, designer, and recording artist living in Jersey City, NJ. He is a Cave Canem, Tin House, Callaloo, and Watering Hole Poetry fellow and is the recipient of the 2020-2021 Cave Canem Poetry Coalition Fellowship. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications such as TriQuarterly, Winter Tangerine, Texas Review, and This Is What America Looks Like: The Washington Writers’ Publishing House Anthology, among others. He earned his MFA in Poetry from The University of Wisconsin-Madison. His debut EP Change Mah Name is streaming on all platforms. @mynameisgreggs @nameyourworld. His interview with actor/director Sonja Sohn can be found in the great weather for MEDIA anthology Suitcase of Chrysanthemums