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Cool Girl of the Month: Maygan Reynolds

Olivia Gallmeyer, Managing News Editor

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In this interview series, the Western Hemisphere is taking a look at some of the talented and driven women of WAHS. This time, we talked to junior Maygan Reynolds, alumni of the Governor’s School for Humanities and Western’s resident poet laureate. Here, Maygan debriefs on her recent contest wins, her methods of finding inspiration and combating writer’s block, and her hypothetical brunch dream team.

Western Hemisphere: A little Bonham Twitter bird told us that you were a winner of the 2017 VOYA Teen Poetry Contest and are getting published in a national magazine! Can you tell us a bit more about that?

Maygan Reynolds: It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for the last few years, I just never was able to get my submission in on time. There’s a regional poetry contest for all of the JMRL libraries, so in Albemarle County, Greene County, Nelson, all the surrounding place. The top five winners were sent into VOYA, and they picked people they wanted to submit for their spring issue. It’s a national publication, Voices of Youth Advocates- it’s mostly distributed to educators and librarians, people like that.

WH: You were also a winner of this year’s Virginia Festival of the Book writing contest. What was that like?

MR: I submitted to the Virginia Festival of the Book and won freshman year as well, but I don’t think I liked that piece as much as I liked the one I submitted this time since I did poetry- I don’t really like prose as much anymore, especially not for submission, because I tend to write longer pieces, so having a word count limit is more difficult than having a page count limit for poetry. This piece is definitely more dark and depressing- it just happens sometimes, there’s not really a reason for it. The piece I submitted this year is sort of a sarcastic commentary on funerals, and the general way that they go- eulogies in particular, and how people tend to act or react to those. It’s part of the Crossroads anthology now- it’s kinda cool, they keep a copy of all of the anthologies that get published, one for every year, in the Special Collections library at UVA.

WH: Where do you find the inspiration for your work?

MR: Music, photographs, sometimes movies- just general things. What I’ve been doing lately is just finding random receipts and pieces of paper on the ground with random things written on them- it’s kind of interesting just to see the things that people think are important enough to write down but not important enough to keep

WH: Are there any particular writers that have inspired or influenced you?

I love so many of them! I think poetry wise, I’m a really big fan of Edna St. Vincent Millay- not so much for her writing style but just the kind of person she was, I found a biography on her shortly after discovering her work and it’s kind of been my favorite thing lately. Dave Eggers also, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius is my favorite thing in the universe. Besides that, Tyler Knott Gregson- most people don’t know who he is, but they should. Yes, he does almost exclusively love poems to his wife, which is kind of adorable but also makes me want to throw up a bit. He has this book called Chasers of the Light- the whole concept of it is that he found this old typewriter at an antique shop and he puts random pieces of paper in the typewriter. Because there is no backspace, he can’t let himself delete things or erase things. There’s a couple poems in this book that he had written “discard” on, that he didn’t want people to read- well, turns out, people like them! It’s that whole idea that you don’t necessarily need to erase things, because someone is going to find them good enough, that I really like.

WH: You mentioned before that you’re not a fan of writing prose. What’s the difference for you between prose & poetry?

MR: For me, if I’m writing something in prose, I tend to get really involved in it. Something that starts out as three pages of a short story becomes a half-written novel. And I can never finish anything in my life that’s prose, so if I like it enough I’ll turn it into a poem because I’m more apt to finish it.

WH: How do you deal with the dreaded writer’s block?

MR: For the longest time, I would Google things. I would be like, “okay, what’s a thing I can write about?” Or “hey, let’s look up weird YouTube videos about animals doing weird things, let’s find inspiration from that!” Then I read this article a few years ago about how there isn’t really any such thing as writer’s block. You can always write something, just not necessarily what you want to write about. So maybe I want to write this poem about this thing, but I have no idea where to start, so let me rant about something that happened this morning in history, because there is always a lot of that. It’s just kind of taking time to not be so focused on what I want to write about and rather just whatever is coming to my mind. That’s what helps.

WH: If you could have brunch with any three people, living or dead, who would you choose?

MR: I would have brunch with- wait, can they be fictional characters? Good. And only three? Well, this is going to sound super lame and nerdy, but F. Scott Fitzgerald would absolutely be at my brunch table. David Bowie’s character from Labyrinth, the Elf King, he would be at my brunch table. And probably eating a really gigantic waffle smothered in fruit. And Sappho.

WH: What is the ultimate comfort food?

That really depends on what mood I’m in. I’m kind of a food snob, so definitely pho if I’m really sad and cold. Although I could not turn down macaroni and cheese or mashed potatoes. Pretty much just any form of carbs and dairy.

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