Jessica Abughattas

Interview with Jessica Abughattas: MFA Alumna and Former Editor in Chief of Lunch Ticket

Jessica Abughattas, a recent graduate of AULA’s MFA program and former Editor in Chief of Lunch Ticket sat down for an interview recently to discuss her time at AULA, what it was like to work on Lunch Ticket, as well as her plans for life post-Antioch.

Why did you choose Antioch?
I came to Antioch to study poetry with Jenny Factor. When I requested more information on the program Jenny reached out and we talked about poetry and writing for young people. It made a huge impression on me about the culture at Antioch. Supportive, inclusive, and academically-rigorous. Putting together my first book manuscript with Jenny was the highlight of my time at Antioch.

What was your experience like being Editor in Chief of Lunch Ticket?
Busy. It’s a six-month sprint. Fortunately, I was collaborating with the most hardworking and passionate editors I could ever ask for. I had worked on Lunch Ticket for two issues under Katelyn Keating’s leadership, and I wanted to continue the spirit of teamwork that she fostered. She involved me in big-picture conversations about the journal when I was a poetry editor and later as an associate managing editor, and that really encouraged me to want to participate in the literary community. It was important to me to continue Katelyn’s legacy and bring new staff members into editorial and outreach discussions. I learned so much from everyone. I hope that everyone who works on Lunch Ticket moves on to work on other literary journals and to be a steward of our mission in the conversations there.

What are some of your personal favorite pieces from Lunch Ticket 13?

  • Arriel Vinson’s “Following Joey” (fiction). It was one of those stories that hooked me right away and had me hanging on every word. The writer took risks in this piece that paid off. The sense of immediacy in the writing is strongly felt in the body.
  • I loved Kori Kessler’s interview of Siel Ju.
  • Carolyn Oliver’s poem “Elementary.”
  • Alyssa Proujansky’s “The Earth from Afar” (flash).
  • Ann Arthur-Andrew’s “Leaving Cleveland” (CNF).
  • Akhila Kolisetty’s essay “Experiencing Whiteness.”

How did the MFA program shape you as a writer?
I think many writers today are jaded by writing/publishing, historically, being somewhat elitist, esoteric, even vain. Because I studied at Antioch, I know I’m doing this for a reason. I believe in the power of stories and poems to heal individuals and communities and forward social justice. I saw that happen within the student community, the Lunch Ticket community, and beyond.

What are your plans post-Antioch?
I’m reading for the poetry journal Palette, submitting my poems, and editing my first book manuscript.

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