Meg Eden’s work is published or forthcoming in magazines including Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Crab Orchard Review, RHINO and CV2. She teaches creative writing at Anne Arundel Community College. She is the author of five poetry chapbooks, the novel Post-High School Reality Quest (2017), and the poetry collection Drowning in the Floating World (2020). She runs the Magfest MAGES Library blog, which posts accessible academic articles about video games.
Meg’s poem “deer legs” appears in our Winter 2020 issue. She was kind enough to answer a few questions about the poem and her writing process.
Q: Where did the inspiration for “deer legs” come from?
A: I was taking a walk and saw these deer legs pinned to the corners of a garden. It was so bizarre and morbid but also drew me in. I passed this house so often, and in all appearances it seemed to be abandoned, yet there were these evidences of life: the lawn, mowed. The garden, tended. The deer legs. I suspect an elderly parent lives here, and the children come to take care of the place. I kept thinking of Elizabeth Bishop’s poem “Filling Station” and its aha moment at the end—“someone loves us all.”
The unseen caretakers in the poem have taken on new relevance to me now that almost everyone is living these unseen lives enclosed within our separate homes. How has the pandemic changed your creative process or what you’re working on?
It’s been harder to focus, and harder to draft. But I’ve found myself much more interested in the big-picture of my projects, and gravitating toward tasks I used to dread, things like synopses and beat-outlines and editing. A different sort of creativity, I suppose. For me, this has been a season with lots of opened-up time, and I try to remember to be grateful for that.
My poetry has always informed my fiction, and vice versa—it’s part of what I love about writing.
It’s hard to think of anything besides the pandemic and our altered state of “normal” right now. How are you doing? As a creative writing teacher, what are you telling your students about writing in this moment?
I have much to be grateful for right now. I am trying to journal every day and look back through my journal to gain perspective. I am trying to write, to dream, to take notes, and gather ideas. I am watching lots of movies and TV shows for inspiration, as well as lots of writing webinars (SCBWI and Highlights particularly have been providing lots of great free ones!). I’m trying to set goals week by week to keep myself focused, on task, and feeling productive. I’m also trying to be kind to myself.
I actually had planned a teaching hiatus for the spring, so the only students I’ve been working with are in short-term online workshops or one-on-one mentorships. I’ve been trying to remind my students to be kind to themselves, but also to do their best to make time for writing, even if briefly. One author I listened to in a webinar suggested setting a ten-minute timer, and if you feel like continuing to write after that, go for it. But if not, you got in ten minutes. Writing can be such a therapeutic coping process. It’s more important now than ever to write.
At the launch reading in January, you read several poems from your new collection Drowning in the Floating World. Can you tell me more about that collection?
Drowning in the Floating World centers around the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, as well as the Fukushima power plant disaster. Japan has always been a part of my life, and I couldn’t stop thinking about the disaster. As I researched, I found myself building connections historically, culturally, linguistically, and mythologically, particularly around this idea of water and how it kills and saves simultaneously.
Folks interested in learning more about the collection can check it out here: https://www.press53.com/meg-eden.
In addition to poetry, you also write fiction. Do the two ever overlap or inspire each other?
Yes, all the time. Annoyingly so! Sometimes I can’t figure out if something’s a poem or a novel. Sometimes it starts as one and becomes the other. Right now I’m also trying a novel in verse, which is a whole new experience, but a great one. My poetry has always informed my fiction, and vice versa—it’s part of what I love about writing.
Do you have a favorite piece from the latest issue of the Little Patuxent Review?
I’ve been really enjoying the issue and particularly loved Grant Clauser’s poem “The Gift.” What a beautiful, evocative poem. I too find myself using poems as a way to say things I should’ve said a long time to important people in my life. Sometimes poems help me figure out what I should or have to say to others, too.
Order your copy of the Winter 2020 issue to read “The Gift” and other great poems
What are you working on now? Where can folks find your writing?
I am all over the place right now, to be honest. I just finished editing a new YA novel and have sent it out into the world to see where it might go. I am trying to re-envision another YA novel I’ve been writing and rewriting in earnest since 2016. I’m playing with some new ideas, like that novel in verse. Sometimes, a rogue individual poem or two comes out. I’m writing lots of pitches, sticky note notes, what-ifs. I’m trying to find whatever I can sink my teeth into.
Folks can find me and my work at megedenbooks.com. My site also has info for those interested in my online writing workshops—both free and paid.
I’m also on social media at:
Facebook: Meg Eden Writes Poems