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My name is Annika (rhymes with Hanukkah), and this semester I’m serving as the Bassini Apprentice for Cleaver Magazine through the Kelly Writers House at the University of Pennsylvania. That means for the next few months I’ll be doing everything from reading submissions to reviewing books to writing blog posts like this one.

I’m currently a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania, where I’m studying English with a concentration in creative writing. I’ve wanted to be a writer my whole life, since before I could write, since before I understood, exactly, what it was a writer did. My parents’ garage is still full of the evidence of that early ambition: oddly dark poetry (all of which, of course, rhymes), short stories about orphaned girls, and one lengthier piece about a family of chipmunks. When I was ten years old, one of my stories won a prize in a writing contest in my hometown (Santa Cruz, California) and I got to shake the mayor’s hand.

Since then I’ve written just about anything and everything I could. I’ve written for such diverse venues as a high school stage and a Philadelphia courtroom, and I’ve worked in positions as distinct as a columnist and a peer tutor, a copy editor and a theater intern. My first published work, a short story titled “The Herd,” appeared in the eighth issue of Cleaver Magazine in December.

This semester, in addition to apprenticing for the magazine, I’ll be working as a tutor at the campus writing center and trying to read and write as much as I can in between classes.

So happy New Year, and good luck with all your literary endeavors! I have a feeling these next few months are going to be good ones, for all of us.

– Annika