Inky Interview: Shannon Donaghy from Montclair State University, New Jersey

You are a junior majoring in English at Montclair State University. What texts are you studying?

Nothing currently. I just finished a semester abroad with Semester at Sea, so my English classes on the ship mostly focused on literature from all of the different countries we visited. At my home university, however, it depends on the class, but I mostly study poetry. This coming semester I will be studying YA Lit in one of my classes, which is exciting. My favorite book I’ve studied so far, I think, is Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi. It was very cool to read and fall in love with a book I was studying, then have an opportunity, by some twist of fate, to visit the country it was written about. I am so lucky to have had the opportunity, as a student of a major that primarily works on paper, to experience the physicality of my studies; witnessing the things one reads and dreams about is a rare and beautiful thing.

What is it you love about poetry?

I think I value poetry over other kinds of literature because there are no rules unless you want there to be. Poetry is literally open-ended, it can be anything, it is anything! I think I like setting my own limits, being able to break them on my own terms, and following behind the narratives I write as they manifest in front of me, no matter where they take me. The possibilities are endless, and I think being able to create something out of nothing with any kind of comprehensive narrative, not to mention a good something, is a skill I find invaluable, and I wish others saw the merits of it that I do.

Another thing I love about poetry is how diverse it is. The term “poetry” encompasses a lot, and like everything else in the world, it’s not for everyone, but only in the broad sense. It’s not for everyone in that not everyone is going to love everything. There are so many different kinds of poetry and poets out there; odds are if you don’t love one thing, you’ll find something else that speaks to you. The most frustrating thing is the mi