Inaugural Issue of Maiden Magazine Launched by Saint Mary’s College MFA Alumni

Brittany Wason and Caroline O'Connor ThomasAlums Caroline O’Connor Thomas MFA ’14 and Brittany Wason MFA ’14  teamed up to launch an inaugural issue of Maiden Magazine. The founding editors met in 2012 at Saint Mary’s College while earning their MFAs, with concentrations in Poetry, and have maintained a connection despite living on opposite sides of the country. Thomas, residing in Oakland, is the author of poetry chapbook Unusual Light Source and has been most recently published in Timshel, along with Tin House, Sixth Finch, Vinyl, and Salt Hill. Wason curates the literary series at The Music Hall in New Hampshire, including the award-winning Writers on a New England Stage series, while also working as an editor, project manager, proofreader, and copyeditor.

“Being on separate coasts allowed us to draw from different pools of poets and writers for the magazine and to encourage our own writing,” Wason said.

“As we developed a friendship and mutual respect for our approaches to writing and editing, which are different but complementary, we discussed how exciting it could be to run a magazine together,” Thomas reflected.

Wason and Thomas aim for their digital magazine to catapult new voices forward and launch a platform for poetry and short nonfiction that celebrates differences.

“We’re interested to see how the world of poetry changes,” Thomas said. “Certainly, we want to be inclusive of voices that have felt less comfortable taking up space in the poetry community, and I think flexibility in our vision is key to that.” 

The first issue released in November, and submission s for the second issue will open in the new year.

“With SMC, the support doesn’t stop after you graduate—rather, the MFA program continues to lift up its alumni and celebrate their work,” Wason said. “You really benefit from the intimacy of the program. Having teachers like Michael Palmer, Kazim Ali, and mentors like Matthew [Zapruder] and Brenda [Hillman] is really a gift. Those relationships continue to evolve as you’re an alumni, which feels very generous,” Wason added.

Lit Quake, a large literary event series held in the Bay Area, celebrated the launch of the women-led digital magazine with an SMC alumni reading at the Silver Sprokett Bookstore on October 23, as part of San Francisco’s Lit Crawl, which brings together more than 500 authors and 10,000 fans every year. The audience cheered for readings done by Thomas, Tanya Castro ’21, Kiran Bain Sahota ’21,  Rai Ahmed-Green ’21, Briana Swain ’18.

The idea of the magazine was planted in the MFA program, but the pandemic was the catalyst for getting the two to put in the work. “Something was rekindled during the pandemic. We realized there was never going to be a better time to roll up our sleeves and build something, and we were both missing our community—so we decided to reach out and even expand the community in the form of a journal,” Thomas said.