Meg Miskiman is a third-year Creative Writing Major at UBCO who is curating a poetry chapbook written exclusively by LGBTQ+ writers, and it will include artwork by LGBTQ+ artists. Meg is currently looking for more LGBTQ+ contributors for the chapbook.
The Phoenix wanted to know more about Meg’s LGBTQ+ poetry chapbook, and Meg kindly agreed to a virtual interview where she described her inspiration and process.
The Phoenix: Briefly tell us about yourself and the ethos behind your work.
Meg Miskiman: I’m 20 years old and in my third year of a creative writing degree at UBCO. My work is about relatability and inclusivity. A lot of my personal work is darker, more vulnerable stuff. I like writing the stuff that makes people uncomfortable, makes them feel weird in their skin, but at the same time, they can relate to it. When it comes to collaborating, it’s really just about inclusivity and visibility. I really just want people to read my work and see that someone else has gone through what they’re going through, or have felt the same way they are feeling. It’s all about connecting with others and making the reader feel safe in my writing.
TP: What inspired your idea to create a chapbook of artistic and poetic work by LGBTQ+ creatives?
MM: The LGBTQ+ community has a lot to share and a lot to offer, however, oftentimes there’s a barrier that stops them from sharing. I came out to my family and friends in my first year, and it was a really scary experience. I’m really thankful for how far my family has come in terms of accepting me and my sexuality, but I remember at the time, it was hard and I struggled a lot. The first thing I turned to was writing, and some of the pieces I wrote were really vulnerable. As time went on, I wanted to share those pieces as a way to share my story and share with others that coming out can be negative (and no one should do it until they are 100% ready) but also that it isn’t something you have to go through alone. I wanted my writing to be somewhere visible as proof that it isn’t something that only one person feels.
However, as I started looking for places to publish, it was really hard. Although magazines and online sources weren’t “stopping” LGBTQ+ submissions, it felt weird submitting poems and stories about coming out in places where it would most likely be surrounded by non-LGBTQ+ topics. So, I told myself then that I wanted to create that space, somewhere that all LGBTQ+ writers and artists could submit work to at any time. When quarantine happened, I got really in my head about constantly being stuck inside and I decided to get started on it.
The chapbook is just the beginning. I hope to develop a blog, and maybe some sort of online presence for these writers and artists as well. I want a place where LGBTQ+ writers and artists can share their work in a safe manner, and have it be visible. I want these writers and artists to feel safe sharing their work, I want them to know that there is always a place for them to share their work, and have people read their work.
TP: How has the process of creating and compiling this chapbook been for you? Have there been any challenges or rewards?
MM: Well, the process has been slow, that’s for sure. I think the two most prominent challenges have been school and contacting people. We’re all facing struggles with school being online, and I’ve found it really hard to make that time at the end of the day to work on this project that means a lot to me. I’m not as far as I’d hoped to be by this point, but that’s okay, I know it’ll get there. I’ve also struggled with reaching out to people and finding people who want to contribute. I, myself, don’t know a ton of LGBTQ+ writers and artists, so finding these talented people has been a challenge for sure. However, there have also been rewards. When I first started working on it, in the summer, I posted on my Instagram story, reaching out to people. The response I had was insane! I had a lot of people message me and thank me for doing this, for creating this space.
TP: What plans do you have for this chapbook once it is completed?
MM: The first thing I hope to do is publish it! Once it’s published though, I hope to continue to grow the community through some sort of online presence, whether that be a blog or a Facebook page. I don’t want this to be one of those projects that just sort of ends when it ends.
TP: Who can contribute to this chapbook of poems? What would you suggest for students who might want to contribute to this chapbook but are perhaps too anxious to reach out?
MM: Anyone who identifies as part of the LGBTQ+ community can contribute as a writer or artist. It’s also important to note that the writing or art piece that is contributed doesn’t have to be about LGBTQ+ issues. It can be about anything! The goal is to have LGBTQ+ contributors, but not LGBTQ+ only topics. My biggest suggestion would be to just send me a message. It doesn’t mean you have to contribute anything, but just send me a message and we can work through it together and figure out if contributing is something you want to do. And if it isn’t, it’s no big deal! I’ll have just enjoyed meeting you in the process.
Students who want to contribute their writing or artwork for the chapbook can either email Meg at email@example.com, message her on Facebook at Meg Miskiman, or message her on Instagram at megmiskiman.