Each week we will be connecting with our contributors showing where they have been, where they are now, and what’s up for the future.
Name: Meghan O’Dea
Title of Piece published in Sweet: Downstream in Highland Park
Since we saw her last, Meghan moved across the country to Portland, Oregon from Tennessee. “I had only two weeks to plan the whole leap. It was wild, but now I’m settling in and love the Pacific Northwest. All the grey and the mist and the proximity to this cold, wild ocean really feeds me in a way I would never have expected.”. Find out more about Meghan on her website www.meghanodea.com.
What are some major accomplishments you have had since your Sweet publication?
All kinds of things. I’ve earned some dream bylines with Yoga Journal, Bustle, Eater, and Chowhound. I also broke into travel writing, which is a dream come true. I’ve had the chance to travel to Mexico, Arizona, Ohio, the Willamette Valley, and Jamaica on assignments. I still can’t believe it.
Can you tell us about a current/ongoing project that you’re excited about?
The reason I moved to Portland so suddenly was to start a new chapter in my career. I get to write about camping all day for a company called The Dyrt. After years of covering the good, bad, and ugly as a journalist and news editor, it’s really nice to spend my day steeped in a pastime that makes people happy and more in touch with themselves and the world around them.
Who is your favorite author?
Probably Karrie Higgins. The things she does with language, incorporating artifacts and other documents into her essays, with intermedia, with disability and mental health and the taboo and geography…it’s all just really incredible and like nothing else anyone is doing.
What is your favorite poem/essay/book?
That answer totally depends on the day I’m asked. My favorite poem of all time might be “The Horse Latitudes” by Susan Firer. I read it when I was maybe 15 and I never forgot the imagery of women with wings made of all sorts of things, even toast, and this marvelous feminine diversity. Really everything from that collection of hers, The Laugh We Make When We Fall has stuck with me since my teens. Years after my first readings and re-readings, I’m still trying to process Sara Majka’s Cities I’ve Never Lived In, which is this incredible blend of fiction and nonfiction that explores our sense of home and memory and self and the nature of space and place. I also just discovered the wonderful Genevieve Hudson by happenstance at a reading at Powell’s recently. She just released the funny, sad, beautiful, grotesque Pretend We Live Here, a collection of stories that are all kinds of embodied queer Southern gothic goodness.
What inspires you to write?
Writing is kind of like breathing— something I have to do just to keep existing, even if no one ever sees it. But for the stuff I put out there in the world, I always keep in mind that being a human can be lonely and a writer more so. I write to make connections between people and ideas and words and moments, between ways of being and the places we inhabit. I write to understand the things that make me feel lonely, which ironically are often what you think would eliminate loneliness, like family and home and love. I want my work to communicate about and build community around different forms of resilience.
What is your favorite sweet?
My grandmother made this bizarre dessert called Hopscotch that I just love. It’s one of those midcentury confections where you combine a bunch of seemingly random stuff from the grocery store, and the recipe probably came off the back of a pack of a Nestle Toll House package in 1962 or something. It involves butterscotch, chow mein noodles, marshmallows, and peanut butter. I like it because it’s a little savory as well as sweet, it’s got a nice crunch, and eating a square always blasts me back to Western New York in the 1990s, with the smell of boxwood and birch bark and the musty basement at my grandfather’s house. It’s probably my favorite place on earth, so being able to eat something that makes me feel like I’m there at the time when that place was the happiest, that makes me smile.
I grew up with those, too, but they were called Haystacks. We found a recipe online that calls them Hopscotch Haystacks, so I’m guessing different locations must have adapted the name.
Thank you, Meghan, for taking the time to reconnect with us. We look forward to seeing more of your work in the future!