Jennifer Bagwell is currently working on the manuscript for her first book, In the Light of Nostalgia. It is a collection of free-verse poetry that recounts the entirety of her human experience thus far and will be structured into three parts: Starlight, The In-Between, and Sunshower. Starlight recounts moments of sleepless nights, love affairs, and the heartache they often bring. The In-Between offers a glimpse into the aftermath, grief, depression, solitude, and struggles with mental health. Sunshower expresses the feeling of making it to the other side of darkness and seeing the sunrise. Ultimately, this collection is a creative and emotional journey dealing with the darkest and brightest aspects of life. However, as all writers and poets can safely say, she is always brimming with ideas for her next project.
Jennifer is also interested in exploring the world of fiction next. She has been a writer since she was old enough to formulate a cohesive sentence. When she was younger, she wrote short stories and chapbooks about the Loch Ness Monster and Dracula. At 11, she had her first poem published in a national poetry magazine. From age 16, she was already writing articles for various online magazines. Then at 23, she wrote for a small-town Alabama newspaper on a part-time basis. While her professional career never quite veered toward writing, she found it to be her closest friend as she navigated life in a small town where she never quite felt like she belonged. She battles with depression and Bipolar 2 disorder, and always found great comfort from the words of others. She only hopes that her writing can offer the same to someone else.
When it comes to titles for her works, it isn’t something she ever wants to force. It has to feel authentic and be something she simply cannot get out of her head. She is also an avid note-taker; throughout the day, when a memory or string of words comes to her mind, she’ll jot it down in her phone’s notes app. She usually won’t come back to it until a few days later, once she has fleshed out everything she hopes to convey. Jennifer will often find herself pouring words on paper at 3 am, when the quiet sets in. She does most of her writing curled up on the couch with a steaming cup of tea. When the ideas come together and start flowing, she’ll move over to her computer to really dig in. Most of her work has been about pain and grief, but she would love to write more about the things that don’t hurt. She is inherently protective of the good, as if having anyone else read about it would somehow make it a fleeting thing instead of something with permanency. Jennifer works full-time in an unrelated field, so she feels lucky to be able to sit down with the words a couple of times a week. It’s something she tries to prioritize, as it’s a large part of self-love and self-care for her. She doesn’t feel quite like myself when she steps away from it for extended periods of time. When she writes, she allows herself to drift back to the emotional moments in her life and feel it all again. She feels safe being this vulnerable, as there is a vast degree of separation from those emotional moments after so much space and time. She always allows a day or so for an ‘emotional hangover’ before she places it back in where it belongs. Spilling out her emotions is both exhausting and cathartic for her. She always feels a high when she reflects on her writing, and realizes all the pain was worth it.
Reading is one of Jennifer’s favorite escapes and she finds it to be one of the greatest inspirations for her writing. She believes that we learn so much from one another and we should devour others’ words as often as possible. She recently stepped outside of her comfort zone when it comes to book genres and read the entire A Court of Thorns and Roses series within a week. She particularly enjoys reading memoirs, as she thinks it’s extraordinarily brave to offer an uncensored glimpse into one’s life. She has also been rereading a lot of Chloe Frayne’s work. Surprisingly, her least favorite genre is nonfiction; she’s always been hungry for knowledge, but emotion is what resonates the most with her, and nonfiction lacks this. Rupi Kaur, Chloe Frayne, Alison Malee, Christopher Poindexter, and Beau Taplin are all writers who have offered her the courage to be vulnerable about her life experiences. If she had to pick an author to be her mentor, she’d go with Mary Oliver. She would give anything to write about grief as breathtakingly as Mary has, and her words often console Jennifer.
Jennifer considers herself to be quite the introvert, so when she’s not writing, she really enjoys getting lost in her favorite albums, hiking, photography, and playing cozy video games. When it comes to her own writing, her favorite poem is “Porches”. Most of her poems are written through the lens of a very specific moment in time or about a person. “Porches” encapsulates the entirety of the impactful experiences and people that she’s held closest. As someone who has struggled with depression since she was a teenager, she’s only ever felt truly seen and less alone in the world through words on a page. For Jennifer, literary success is being able to offer that comfort to even one other person.
Jennifer’s advice for new writers is to find a way to push through the fear. She understands that writing in itself is terrifying, and having others read it is infinitely more so. However, she notes that you have lived a vast, interesting, and meaningful life, and you deserve to speak authentically about it. There are so many people who will benefit from it, and it’s something only you can offer the world. Your words matter.
You can find Jennifer Bagwell on Instagram and Threads as @thejenbagwell or email her at email@example.com