Spotlight On: Meghan Bell

Meghan is a senior studying Social Science at PSU. “Originally I was a political science/government major, but I took a few too many history and sociology classes. I’m interdisciplinary now.”

*Trigger Warning*

prey —Meghan Bell

“In rural america, rapes increase during hunting season.” – V.L. Seek 

pray for the rabbits whose hearts beat themselves dead

pray for the does who freeze on highway lines, steel hurtling fast

pray for the girls whose souls float feet above their heads instead of running

prey—the hunter hunts his prey and all we have are our instincts

all we have are our hearts, beating themselves bone dry

our feet running until they stop, our eyes

like headlights, looking in a mirror, a mirror

hurtling towards us at seventy miles an hour

does are off limits during hunting season but girls are not

rabbits have a gamey taste to them, too wild, but a girl

just tastes like chapstick and fear, alcohol and bad dreams

she freezes, like a doe, eyes just as wide, just as lovely a creature

and the steel barrel of a gun aiming for her throat just as effective

sometimes the gun doesn’t look like a gun and in his camouflage

the hunter looks like a friendly forest, just the green backdrop of home

it all feels natural—then the shot rings out and you stagger

he hasn’t anticipated the kill and can’t carry you home by himself

he leaves you there to bleed. you don’t remember feeling shot.

you remember floating just above your body as you watched

the hot lead penetrate your skin and you wished

the camouflage hadn’t tricked you quite so easily, you wished 

to be safe at home, alone in the forest, you wished 

he had preyed on some other deer

on some other girl

you think, I can’t believe this is my life

and it isn’t

Q: What inspired you to write the poem “Prey” and what do you hope readers take away from it?

A: This is a tough question. In part, “Prey” was inspired by an essay in the book Not That Bad, edited by Roxane Gay. The essay in question is titled “Utmost Resistance: Law and the Queer Woman or How I Sat in a Classroom and Listened to My Male Classmates Debate How to Define Force and Consent” by V. L. Seek — which sounds like a poem. The quote I use at the beginning of the poem is from that essay: “In rural America, rapes increase during hunting season.” That whole book is worth a read, if you get a chance, but it’s really difficult especially for survivors, so of course, take care of yourself.

The other part of it is that I am a survivor of sexual violence. My goal with this poem was to convey a certain feeling and state of being to my audience in the best way that I can. I’m basically pouring my heart out. I wrote the poem with slam in mind, because I have been really involved in slam here in Portland for almost a year now. It’s been a great way to open myself up and kind of air out that trauma in an encouraging and respectful environment. Which I guess goes into your next question!

Q: In what ways do you think art can be used to heal trauma? 

A: I have had a lot of people say to me, this poem really spoke to them in particular. Honestly I am touched by that but it also makes me really sad, to know that so many people go through this and feel this same awful thing. Still, it is a little bit of a relief as a trauma survivor to see someone else talking about it and think, yes, I’ve been through that, whether it is through art, or just speaking out. Which aside from keeping predators accountable, is, I think, one of the main goals of Me Too. It’s also a relief just to talk about it, on the other side of that.

Q: What influences and inspires your art the most?

A: I read a lot! I’m minoring in English and just generally like to read. I haven’t taken any poetry classes yet, but I have a whole shelf in my apartment dedicated to poetry books. Some of my favorite authors are Shirley Jackson, Roxane Gay, and Lauren Beukes. My favorite poets include Mary Oliver, Tommy Pico, Rhiannon McGavin, Clementine von Radics, and too many other amazing poets to name!

Also, slam is huge. The poets at Portland Poetry Slam are my biggest inspiration and I am so honored to be friends with them. The national slam scene is just full of amazing poets as well. I’m so excited, because I might get to see Andrea Gibson when they come to Portland in the summer! Also I met their partner, Megan Falley, when she featured at PPS, and she was super nice.

Q: How do you go about transforming an idea into a finished project?

A: Usually I go through a few drafts. With poetry I’m often writing emails to myself on my phone. Sometimes I will even use voice recognition to try and write while I’m driving, but I don’t do that too often. Those usually need to be revised A LOT. I have a lot of ideas that I never finish. “Prey” started out as just an email with the Not That Bad quote in it. I don’t really remember the process of writing it, which is to be expected of a trauma poem. The only reply to that email is the final draft, except for a few minor line edits.

For longer form things, I do a lot of prewriting. Usually I don’t do outlines for poetry, but sometimes I brainstorm. I like a lot of those techniques your writing teacher gives you, I guess. Free-writing, spider charts, all that good English class stuff.

Q: What projects are you currently working on?

A: I am working on a novel, though I haven’t worked on it much over the last term — too many classes! It is about lesbian vampires, and it’s a story about surviving abuse and making yourself a home and a life (even if you’re undead). I think I’ll be pretty inspired by next term, because I’m taking an Archaeology of Ancient Egypt class and one of my characters became a vampire in ancient Egypt.

Other than that, I’m always working on poetry. Over winter break I’m thinking of putting together a self published poetry chapbook. I have a few short stories in the works. One of the short stories I wrote, Mary and the Mermaid, is coming out in the January 2018 issue of Sinister Wisdom, which is exciting! I’ve also become interested in comics, and adapted one of my poems, “Midnight Monster,” into a comic for my Graphic Novels class this term, so I’m hoping to self publish the booklet version of that as well. My comics style is heavily influenced by Lynda Barry.

Welcome to Winter Quarter!

Welcome to Winter Quarter! The perfect season for bundling up with hot coffee and an infinity scarf and cramming to finish all the work you need to get done. The staff here at Pathos Literary Magazine is excited to kick off a fresh quarter filled with fun events, community building, and the creation of a beautiful new issue of our magazine. We hope you all had a fantastic winter break, filled with love, laughter, and joy, and wish you all a successful, productive, and fun quarter. Chat with us at Party in the Ballroom in the SMSU Ballroom on Thursday, January 17, 2019, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. As always, feel free to submit up to three pieces for publication in our mag or on our blog, ranging from poetry (sonnets, haikus, spoken word, etc.), fiction (flash, short stories, novel excerpts, etc.), non-fiction (biographies, narratives, essays, etc.), reviews (on music, books, films, events, etc.), or visual art (drawings, paintings, graphic designs, comic strips, collages, embroidery, prints, photography, or short films). Submissions for the winter magazine are open NOW and close WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 23RD. Submit written work at https://pathoslitmag.com/submit/. Submit visual work by emailing it to pathosliterarymag@gmail.com.

Spotlight On: Daniel J. Nickolas

Daniel is in his last year at PSU, duel majoring in English and German. “Dies ist mein letztes Jahr an PSU. I habe zwei Hauptfächer, Englisch und Deutsch.”

Q: What is your favorite book?

A: It changes over time, and there is never only one. I have a strong affinity for John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row (John Steinbeck in general is a favorite of mine), the historical biographies of Doris Kearns Goodwin are incredible, and Toni Morrison’s Paradise was an experience like no other. Franz Kafka’s Die Verwandlung is a current favorite.

Q: Who or what influences and inspires your art the most?

A: Reading is essential to writing. It’s always inspiring to see what others have done / are doing with language and storytelling. I’m especially lucky in this regard, because my sister is also a writer; we use each other as editors and beta-readers for our work, and the differences in our styles of writing always makes me think more critically about the way I use (or could be using) language. Also, the world, despite all its problems, is an awesome place; like a lot of writers, I find nature to be a consistent source of inspiration—have you ever thought about trees, I mean really thought about them? Wow.

Q: What are your favorite art mediums to work with?

A: Since I’m a writer, I’ll take this question to mean what forms I like writing in. The answer is all of them. I love the whole spectrum of writing, from highly metaphorical poetry to checking the comma usage of technical reports. Currently, I am very intrigued by odes and internal rhyme as far as poetry goes, am trying to find my footing in the novel as a form, and am heavily exploring journalism (I’m currently the opinions editor at the PSU magazine, The Pacific Sentinel).

Q: What do you do about creative blocks?

A: Ignore them. Creative blocks usually just mean that you need to step away from a particular piece for a little while, and that’s a great opportunity to work on something else. I’ve learned not to buy into the mentality of “I don’t know what to write about”; because there is always something to be found. As I’m writing this, I’m looking through a window of the PSU library, watching a woman in black dance in the rain. The dance is improv but has a fluid energy, like the way Nymphs must dance. What a stimulus for writing! And all I had to do was look up. The world is bursting at its seams with inspiration.

Q: Do you have a favorite time of day to make art?

A: I prefer to write in the mornings, though I often feel like revising goes better in the evenings. However, being a student usually means my favorite time to write is during those periods of the day when I have time do something other than work, be in class, or do homework. Student life means I have a lot of scraps of writing, written on a lot of scraps of paper.