“People Have Cool Ideas:” A Few of My Favorite Things with Maria Gray ’23

Welcome to “A Few of My Favorite Things” — art edition! In this series of Q&A interviews, The Bates Student sits down with students involved in the arts on campus to learn about their favorite parts of what they do. Today we’re chatting with Maria Gray ’23, the editor-in-chief of Snaggletooth. As Bates’s only literary arts magazine, Snaggletooth is a haven for creative students of all sorts on campus — poets, visual artists, doodlers, fiction writers, and everyone in between.

It’s hard to read Maria Gray’s ’23 resume and not feel just a little bit intimidated — she is the editor in chief of Bates’s literary magazine Snaggletooth, a senior working on an honors thesis in creative writing for which she is writing 30 poems, the recipient of national awards for poetry — but in person, the girl herself is profoundly human. When we sit down to talk, she is wearing pants with patchwork patterns on cargo pockets, socks embroidered with cherry blossoms and a striped sweater underneath a hand-carved necklace made by an online friend of hers. She laughs about her classes, winces at the thought of paying for grad school, chuckles as she recalls the origin of her poetry obsession (answer: pre-teen Tumblr scrolling), and even seems a bit rueful sometimes, worrying that her description of editing comes off as “boring.”

Despite her candidness, Gray is not unaware of her own talent. With a dry grin, a strand of hair tucked behind her ear, and an “I’m going to brag about myself now,” she tells me that she recently learned that her poem “Where Were You When Mac Miller Died” is going to be published in Best New Poets 2022, a national anthology of, well, the best poems by new poets (those who have not yet published a book of poetry) in 2022.

It’s a high honor, but Gray doesn’t seem to be letting her focus wander to the national stage from our alcove in Lewiston. Her focus right now is on what she does at Bates. And what she does is quite impressive: she is the editor in chief of Snaggletooth, Bates’s literary arts magazine, which she has been writing for since her freshman year and which she is helping develop into a home for a broad spectrum of art. “We’re sort of trying to rework Snaggletooth and what exactly it’s an umbrella for. … We would love for it to be like a more general creative hub for Bates,” she says. That includes doodles, artwork, prose, and poetry — “we literally will take any medium that we can publish either online or on paper.”

Snaggletooth was founded by Eden Rickolt ’19 and Anna Maheu ’20, Gray’s AESOP leaders, who also introduced her to the magazine. After struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic, Gray is preparing to help publish the first print edition since the pre-pandemic era. The deadline for submissions for this fall’s edition is October 15.

Gray is a grounded, candid individual whose impact on Bates will be felt long after she graduates this spring. During our talk with Gray, she told us a few of her favorite things about poetry, her time in Lewiston, and the community arts space that is Snaggletooth.

Favorite thing about the process of writing poetry:

“I think it’s really interesting how the poem sort of reveals itself to you … when I’m writing a poem, at a certain point, it becomes a being that’s totally independent of me,” Gray says. “And it’s sort of just like, you know, I’m helping it become what it needs to become, but it really is becoming itself by virtue of itself. … Writing poetry a lot of the time is like trying to tap into a frequency.”

She adds that she finds poetry “very mystical,” and this helps her ability to persist with it. “If you can’t fully understand something, then you can’t fully get sick of it.”

Favorite poem:

I intended this question to be difficult, but Gray has an answer almost instantly: “Accident Report in the Tall, Tall Weeds” by Ada Limón. “I first read it when I was maybe 14 [or] 15,” Gray says, “and it blew my mind. I was like, Oh, my God.” 

“And now she’s the Poet Laureate of the United States,” Gray says of Limón, “so, you know, things are cool.”

Favorite part of the Snaggletooth community:

“It’s really cool seeing what people’s creative instincts are and what they really are most eager to contribute, because, you know, people have cool ideas,” Gray says. “If they have an avenue to actually make them concrete, then it’s just super cool to see what people do when they have the resources and agency to really make something like this.”

Gray fondly recalls cozy nights of curling up in Hathorn during dinnertime with a few other editors, “looking at people’s art together” and “doing stupid shit,” but she is also trying to expand the group. “You obviously can’t make a community by gatekeeping, so that’s something that I’m sort of trying to figure out this year,” she says. “It’s sort of like the transitional aspect of that, but I’ve really been liking how it’s going so far. And there are so many people contributing so many cool things, so it’s nice that people have more agency.”

Favorite class at Bates:

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Gray’s deepest loves are the Poetry Workshop classes with Professor Myronn Hardy. “I’ve taken the advanced one twice. And I would take it a third time if I was allowed to,” she says. Hardy has “helped me sharpen my poetry and make it more precise in a really, really amazing way. He’s awesome,” Gray says.

Favorite fall activity:

“Listening to ‘All Too Well: 10-Minute Version,’” Gray mutters. She snorts, tries to think, and then doubles down: “Honestly, yeah. Listening to ‘All Too Well: 10-Minute Version.’”

Favorite spot on the Bates campus:

“The Puddle is beautiful, and such a good space to write,” Gray says. “There are so many fun little places [around the lake]. You can just squirrel away and do your thing.”

Favorite life lesson learned from poetry:

“Nothing you do is ever done,” Gray says, “but that’s okay, and that doesn’t mean that working on it isn’t worthwhile.”


Creative students interested in seeing their work featured in Snaggletooth can submit by emailing [email protected] or ask questions by reaching out to Gray at [email protected]. The magazine accepts all types of prose, poetry, artwork, photography, and audiovisual artwork.