June 8, 2022
Margaret Beaver, a sixteen-year-old high school junior residing in her hometown of Plano, Texas, began acquiring exposure for her work at fourteen years old, when in February 2020, she was elected a Topical Winner two consecutive times for Live Poets Society of New Jersey’s “Of Love and Dedication” and “Inside of Me” publications. Featured in one publication would soon become the first poem of her collection and a fan favorite, “Sad boy.”
After leaving public school in the sixth grade due to severe bullying, she enrolled in an online virtual school where she currently still attends. The flexible schoolwork schedule allows her the time to pursue her interests in writing, drawing, photography, and tutoring fellow students in the algorithms of literature. With the encouragement of her ninth grade English teacher, who is credited in the dedication of her work, she began penning her collection in the ninth grade.
inkwells. is Beaver at her most raw and vulnerable, having been written during and the product of what she describes as “the worst mental health relapse of [her] life.”
“It is only natural for humans, when they are tired of life, to return to what makes life worth living: art,” said Beaver. “My relapse was caused largely in part to the fact that I had been ignoring my symptoms for well over four years—and I take responsibility for that. inkwells. is me taking responsibility.”
1. Beaver reflects on her initial aspirations when writing her collection.
"I've been asked so many times—by strangers, by friends, by publishing houses— 'What is your reasoning for writing this?' 'What are you trying to achieve?' And the answer is very simple. For people not dealing with mental health problems, particularly anxiety, depression, or PTSD, many of the poems in this collection can feel very dark and unsettling. But they can also provide insight into the mind and soul of someone who is suffering," explained Beaver. "Of course, I can't speak on behalf of the entirety of the mentally ill population, but I can provide you with the knowledge that this is what someone could be feeling."
2. Who would she claim to be her target audience?
"Anyone and everyone," said Beaver immediately. "This is not a work restricted to one group of people; this is not a one-sided argument. For people who aren't struggling, this collection is knowledge; for people who are struggling, this collection is validation. These poems can be very redeeming and comforting, in that they support the notion that that no one is ever alone in their condition and there are many others who are trying to cope as best they can. This, personally, was how I coped."
3. Why does she feel her message is one that needs to be said?
“I'm going to be very plain and simple about this fact: I am here to make a political statement. I am here to make a controversial argument. I’m no philosopher, but one thing I’ve found is that humans so often recognize the signs in others but never in themselves. This is the collection that will stare up at you from the sewer grates and tell you exactly what you need. Because you won’t tell yourself.”
4. How would she describe her writing process?
“There really wasn't a process. Whenever I’d have breakdowns and get severely nauseous, I would write in the midst of what I’m feeling at that very moment. Every poem included in inkwells. was born amidst some form of chaos, which only adds to its authenticity, I think.
“Ultimately, inkwells. is going to make you uncomfortable. It’s going to make you think. And I’m okay with that.”
5. Aside from the content of her collection, were there any challenges with its composition?
“One thing I struggled with, regarding the book, was the ordering of the poems,” said Beaver. “I couldn’t decide if I wanted to group them together based on their degree of darkness or if I wanted to leave them miscellaneous. All in all, I ended up leaving the order miscellaneous because this order reflects the fluctuations of mental stability—one day you’re fine and then you’re not.”
Margaret Beaver currently resides in her hometown of Plano, Texas and can be found browsing in any local bookstore, or at home scribbling out her next work.
You can follow Beaver on her social media channels or visit her at margaretbeaverbooks.com. Copies can be purchased direct from the publisher, Gardners books, by visiting www.pegasuspublishers.com, or by calling 01223 370012.