In the Artist Spotlight series of blog posts, The Layered Onion highlights an artist in the community. We’ll get a chance to learn more about them and their work.
In this post we are featuring Maggie Bowyer (they/them/theirs).
Maggie is a poet, cat parent, and the author of various poetry collections including Ungodly (2022) and When I Bleed (2021). They are an essayist with a focus on Endometriosis, chronic pain, and trauma. They have been featured in Bourgeon Magazine, Capsule Stories, Plainsongs Poetry Magazine, The Abbey Review, Troublemaker Firestarter, Wishbone Words, and more. They were the Editor-in-Chief of The Lariat Newspaper, a quarter-finalist in Brave New Voices 2016, and a Marilyn Miller Poet Laureate. More of their work is on Instagram @maggie.writes.
Maggie did a Q&A with The Layered Onion, talking about their work:
What led you to writing?
I have been writing since I could hold a pencil. I have always loved reading. At first, I was drawn to journalism and essays, but eventually, with the help of some amazing mentors, I found my voice in poetry.
What inspires you most about writing?
Writing is a way to articulate things I can’t describe in the moment. It’s a way to take those dark moments – the moments of overwhelming physical or mental pain – and make sense of them. I can share my words with loved ones and they might understand better; I can share with someone going through something similar and they might feel seen. Seeing other people and their truth is the most magical part of writing, and of my life.
You write in a variety of ways – including poetry collections. What are your favorite topics to cover?
I write what some have described as “winter poetry.” I tend to write on darker topics – my favorites being chronic pain and trauma. I want the people who feel invisible burdens to feel a lot lighter. While the topics I cover are dark, I try my best to leave room for hope, healing, the disabled joy, finding love amidst it all, the journey, all of it.
What projects are you most proud of?
I want to say my next project, but it’s not even finished yet! If I had to pick one of my current projects, I would definitely have to say WHEN I BLEED: POEMS ABOUT ENDOMETRIOSIS. People have held that book so close and I am honored by the love it has received. I never thought people all across the world would read one of my books. I was even asked to be a part of an exhibition in Whales where words from WHEN I BLEED were put next to fantastic photographs. I was truly in awe.
What’s the most difficult part about writing for you?
Writing daily is so exhausting, but one of the best things writers can do. I sometimes run out of inspiration or write throw-away poems and half the time I want to give up. But it’s so important to write daily.
I want to draw attention to your free medical admin templates for communicating with the health system for any folks who need them. Can you talk more about the idea behind it and any feedback you’ve received?
I am so happy you asked! Thank you! I always find that, as a complex patient, it helps to do the leg work for your doctor. I love the body map because it’s been the most effective tool I have used in getting diagnosed and receiving care. I color it in with different colors for different types of pain. The longer sheet is really nice to keep track of meds, new symptoms, updates, and more! It’s one of the most popular things on my website and I am so glad people find them useful!
Any stories you’d want to share with the community?
This is not so much a story, but more an urging. When I first went to college, I stopped writing because I was “too busy.” As my pain and symptoms kept increasing, I didn’t know how to share it with anyone, especially with all the medical trauma I already had experienced. The only way I knew how to share was by writing in the middle of my flares. I spent dissociative days trying to describe the haze. I lied on the bathroom floor sobbing from the pain and wrote some of my favorite poems. I went back to the doctor and fought for my care, using all the strength I had used to write. Then, in 2020, I published my first book. Now? I am almost done with my fourth. If you’re looking for a sign to start writing, or start writing again, or publishing your work, this is it. Please share your story. You never know who needs to hear your story.
What a powerful line! We all have a story to tell or a picture to be seen – you never know who needs to hear your story. You can check out more of Maggie’s work on their website or Instagram @maggie.writes.