Senior English major Meghan Dairaghi is this year’s Editor-In-Chief of Magnolia, Maryville University’s art and literary magazine. Magnolia is a student-run operation that showcases the work of Maryville’s students, faculty, staff and alumni. A creative writer by trade, Dairaghi is in charge of the magazine’s next steps while also pioneering her own undergraduate journey.
What is to be expected from Magnolia this year? What events are you most looking forward to hosting?
“I haven’t been in a position of leadership before. So it’s something different, but it’s exciting, and I think it’s definitely pushing me out of my comfort zone. I am always excited for receiving submissions. It sounds like a cop-out answer, but I am so excited to see what people create because there are people who are not English majors, who I don’t have classes with [that submit]. There’s such an amazing creative community at Maryville that most people aren’t aware of or don’t have access to. I get to see what everyone’s creating, and that’s my favorite part. I’m always pleasantly surprised, because I’m like, ‘This is so cool that they’re creating this stuff, and they want to share it with me.’ I’m so touched that someone trusts me with their work.”
Magnolia is working on an online edition of the publication. It’s not official, but can you discuss the possibility of it?
“We don’t have definite, concrete plans for what we’re looking for. Hopefully we want to create this online platform where we can have material that can’t necessarily be printed on paper. If someone wants to submit a spoken word poem, they can do that. Music therapy majors, if they want to sing, if they want to submit their music [they can]. We can have film, video, things we can’t print on a page. I think that just opens up the possibilities for submissions, and people who maybe aren’t writers, who can do other things, can use that, which would be really cool to see. I’m excited because I think it’s going to be a lot more accessible for people.”
What has been your favorite submission of yours? Overall, do you prefer creating poetry or fiction?
“I’m always so critical of my own work, but I think probably the piece I published in last year’s edition. It was a poem that I wrote, which is weird, because I’m primarily a fiction writer. It was called ‘The Hourglass Comparison’. In Dana [Professor Dana Levin, Distinguished Writer in Residence]’s class, I had done the generative project, where you pick an object and you write about it. I picked an hourglass and compared it to how society views women. I really liked that poem, just because it was one that I actually felt proud of. The subject matter I thought was important, because it wasn’t something I had necessarily written about before so that was probably my favorite one.”
What’s it like to see peers you may have been in workshop with submit to Magnolia?
“Especially with non-majors that take those classes; it’s always nice to see professors and other classmates encourage them to submit. It might not necessarily be something that’s on their radar, they might not think it’s good enough. But in those environments it’s like, ‘Yes! Do it!’”
What is it about fiction that you love so much versus poetry?
“I’m in a poetry class this semester, even if it’s not primarily what I write, but fiction is just where my heart is. I like developing characters and scenes over an expanse of time, and while you can do that with poetry, I find it easier for myself to do that with fiction. For me, I’m always more drawn to crafting sentences and coming up with storylines and plots in my head.”
What’re your thoughts on Worldbuilding?
“It’s very hard! You’re making something up out of thin air, to create something that doesn’t exist. That’s hard to do, but it’s rewarding when it pays off.”
How do you think you’ve grown as a writer since studying your craft at Maryville? As an English major? As a person?
“I’m a very introverted person, I’m very shy, so coming to Maryville and being in creative writing workshops has helped me project my voice. In that workshop setting, you have to critique other people’s work and you have to talk about your own work. That’s not something I was familiar with. I find that it’s incredibly important and beneficial to writers, just being in that workshop space and being able to openly talk to people about work. Since then, I’ve become a lot more confident in my abilities as a writer and as someone who can critique writing. Even when I’m reading, I kind of do it subconsciously. It’s definitely a confidence builder for me…It helps me develop that ability to take criticism a lot more.”
Where does your inspiration come from? What is your muse?
“I guess a lot of my writing comes from my experiences, but not necessarily personal ones, more observational. I like writing about relationships, but not mine, other people’s. What I’ve observed, the way that people interact with each other, or just the way I view society as a whole. It’s not personal, though I can apply my personal lens to it. I do like writing about things I observe in the world around me.”
Is it harder to write about things closer to you, or is that just what you prefer?
“In a way it’s easier, because it’s hard to write personal things. I’m so critical of my own work that when I’m writing something personal, I want it to be perfect even though that’s not something that’s obtainable. If it’s not the best that it can be, that frustrates me. I think, ‘I’m writing about my own experience, so it should be good writing because I experienced it first hand.’ From that critical viewpoint, in that lens, it’s easier to write about things that are far away from me, because I can write about it and manipulate it in a way that makes me feel like I did it well.”
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