Jessica McQuain: 2016 Winner of Margaret Harvin Wilson Writing Award

GCSU senior, Jessica McQuain, was just honored with the 2016 Margaret Harvin Wilson Writing Award for her poem "Southern Baptist", but that's not the only thing she's been busy with lately. Besides gearing up for graduation in December, the Creative Writing/Spanish double major is awaiting the results of a Fulbright Scholarship and recently became engaged. We at Her Campus recently had the chance to talk with her about her writing inspiration and her post-graduation plans.

Her Campus: When did you start writing poetry?

Jessica McQuain: The first time I remember writing a poem was sixth grade, so I was eleven or twelve. Then I kind of stopped for a while and started up again in college, but I also really enjoy journaling and I've done that pretty consistently since that time.

HC: Is writing a natural process for you, or is finding the right words challenging?

JM: It's most challenging when I have a specific idea of what I want to write about. If I sit down and try to write a love poem, it will never come out and it can get frustrating. But when I'm just writing, a lot of the time what I want to say will just start coming to me and it will form its own subject. 

HC: How has where you came from influenced where you're going?

JM: I came from a family where no one had ever been to college, but I knew in the second grade that college was what I wanted. So that really pushed me to get out of my small town, get out of the poverty, and go and see the world and different. But as I've gotten older, there's a connection for me to the nature and the humility of that community. My background has really pushed me to go forward and live somewhere maybe with a little more opportunity, but I feel that I'm very faithful to where I grew up.

HC: Do you have an idea of what you want to do with English and Spanish after you graduate in December?

JM: I would love to get a Master's degree and eventually a Doctorate degree. I'm not exactly sure what in, but I'm really interested in billingualism in the U.S., especially how it's growing. And my secondary love to poetry is linguistics, because it's a really great filter to see the world through. It's about communication being effective rather that correct, and asking how people understand each other. I'd really like to look at that, particularly women's speech and how stigmatized it is, despite women being the people who instigate changes in languages. Overall, I'm very interested in how we talk to each other and what it says about who people are as a species.

HC: Thanks so much for talking with Her Campus, Jessica!

JM: Thank you for having me!  


Photo from GCSU Front Page.