The Power of Writing: Visiting Student Reagan Davison
Reagan Davison, a senior at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, studied abroad at JCU in Summer 2022. Her book, If a Thousand Lovers Spoke at Once (2022), contains various poems about her journey to achieve self-love despite her tribulations.
Tell us about your background.
I am a senior majoring in News Media and minoring in Creative Writing. I plan on graduating in December 2022 after 3.5 years. In my free time, I love singing and going to concerts, and I have an overall appreciation for the arts. I studied abroad for 6 weeks in Rome, Italy at John Cabot University. During that time, I was enrolled in Classical Mythology with Professor Massimo Betello and Fiction Writing with Professor Elizabeth Farren.
How did you find out about JCU and what made you decide to study abroad here?
When I got the approval to study abroad, I knew I wanted to go to a country in Europe. Italy and the UK were my top choices, but I wanted to be immersed in a culture I knew little about, so I chose Rome. I researched JCU and its departments, and I was intrigued by what I saw.
What was your summer studying abroad at JCU like? What classes did you take?
I was nervous about being in a foreign country that is thousands of miles away from home for 6-7 weeks. However, I found great friends and professors to help me acclimate. I took Classical Mythology with Professor Massimo Betello and from the very first day, I knew I was going to enjoy it. Mythology is a very broad topic, so having it packed into 6 weeks was a bit nerve-wracking but going to class and learning about how Zeus was a “player,” how mortals tested gods, and more wild stories made it worthwhile. I also took Fiction Writing Workshop with Professor Elizabeth Farren. There were only 6 students including me, so it was easy to feel safe receiving critiques for my work. I am not familiar with writing fiction, so feedback from Professor Farren and my classmates made me think about why I love the books I do. It’s the unexpected twists and how to capture an audience with only so many paragraphs. It is interesting to think how writing can hold so much power. I’m in awe of it every day.
Congratulations on publishing your book If a Thousand Lovers Spoke at Once. What is it about and how did you get the inspiration for it?
For almost 6 years I worked on my poetry book with 39 poems. If a Thousand Lovers Spoke at Once is a culmination of my growth as a gay, black woman and the self-love I picked up along the way. The book is divided into four parts: Thousand Voices, No Voice, Call Out my Name, and One Voice. All these parts tell a different story about what I went through to discover self-love.
How did you become passionate about writing/poetry and who are some writers/poets who inspire you?
My first memory of writing poetry started in middle school. However, I have always shown a love for creativity since I was in theater and choir. My passion for writing was born out of the difficulties I had in middle school. I needed an outlet to express myself, but I did not have close friends in whom I felt safe to confide. Therefore, my journal and pens were my go-to. I also had my love for books manifest around the same time, so it made sense to tap into that creativity. My favorite poets and authors are Sappho, Ryan Douglass, and Casey McQuiston. When I was growing up, my favorite genre was romance and comedy. However, every time I read a bestseller, it was always about a straight couple or a misrepresented gay couple. Only in recent years have I branched out to find better representation. Douglass’ The Taking of Jake Livingstone (2021) made me cry tears of joy because of how healing it was to see black, queer main characters experience a happy ending and not be the butt of a sick joke like most stories I’ve read. Casey McQuiston is my favorite modern writer with her book, One Last Stop (2021) being my favorite book currently. I love her tropes of found family and finding yourself. Finally, Sappho was my first introduction to women writing romantically about other women, and her words just felt like a hug to the inner child in me that wanted to be seen.
What are your plans for the future?
After graduation, I will move to New York City, and work towards a position in a publishing house or within the music industry. My goal is to interview musicians about how they interact with their fanbase and how they convey stories. I may go to graduate school for a master’s in music business at the end of next year, but only time will tell.