by James O’Dea
I honestly cannot imagine a better way to enter the summer months. After two semesters of full-time graduate courses in the Masters of English Language and Literature (MAELL) program, I have enjoyed much more than just the relaxed schedule of spring. To start, I was asked to be the new editor-in-chief of Qua, the university-run literary and fine arts magazine. This publication is very dear to me. Getting published in Qua as an undergraduate inspired me to keep writing. Reading at the launch parties brought me closer to Flint’s literary community, of which I’m now a proud participant. Getting to work on and potentially edit Qua was one of the many reasons I returned to this university for my graduate studies, to ensure that Qua continued to provide a platform for local writers and artists. Flint has too many stories not to keep telling them.
Though submission deadlines for the magazine are still several months away, I have already started reaching out to different corners of our art community. A few weeks ago, I was a judge at the Fli-City Poetry Slam, where I was far too easily bullied by the crowd into giving nearly every poem an overly generous score. A stark contrast from the Gordon Ramsey character that I imagined myself to be while editing poems for the magazine. This past Friday, I read a few new poems of my own at an open mic at Buckham Art Gallery (also the home of the first Qua launch I ever attended). As a proud introvert, I would have gladly stayed home from these events, though they were both lovely. But now that I represent the magazine, I feel it is my responsibility to get out there and let my fellow Flintstones know that we have a local publication dedicated to their art, and they or someone they know could be published in it. My top priority as editor-in-chief is to bring the magazine closer to the community whose work it represents.
I am also co-writing a book with a professor and other graduate students that uses characters inspired by renaissance literature to tackle contemporary issues such gun violence, gender inequality, LGBTQ issues, among others. We meet weekly to discuss the latest sections we’ve written and to solidify our plans moving forward. So far the experience has been invigorating; I always leave the meetings excited and motivated. My character is a sort of postmodern take on Puck from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. A fun project to say the least.
If I sound excited, giddy, or overly positive, well, that is accurate. Few are fortunate enough to do what they love, and right now I am one of the lucky ones.