“Meal Prep” by Tegan Baez

Tegan’s poem won first place in the poetry category for the Skyway Collegiate Creative Writing Competition in Fall 2023. He is also a visual artist.
Tegan Baez
Tegan Baez
Meet Tegan


Glenwood, IL


Pursuing education in library sciences and mortuary sciences

Favorite writers:

Madeline Miller, writer of Song of Achilles 


Entering more competitions, and making profit from my creative works such as writing and art

Tegan On “Meal Prep”:

Meal prep is all from personal experience, all the little habits and things that make mana a character are inspired by myself. It’s about the very human urge to want something, someone so bad in an unhealthy way. Mana, like many of us, feel alone because of our flaws or nasty habits, either by others or one’s own volition. Even with all these nasty human traits we still want to be accepted, in a way that feels total and complete. Which is unhealthy to a certain extent, overall I just really enjoy writing about the more twisted side of attraction and love.

— Tegan

Meal Prep

This piece won first place in the poetry category for the Skyway Collegiate Creative Writing Competition in Fall 2023.


Mana had a list of unfortunate habits. Twitchng and ticking, biting and beating, clawing and crying. They only amplified in crowds, in classes, in common places where people and their shadows ate away at personal space. 

Mana’s body would convulse uncontrollably, something akin to a shiver. It would slither unexpectedly upon him, like a snake slowly creeping upon its prey. Like whatever stalked him from the shrubs and branches. Mana knew it was bound to happen so he would just expose his neck open for the snake to lunge. 

Mana happened to gnaw at his flesh when he was frustrated. And math made him beyond frustrated. So frustrated he would beat on his head like a drum until there was a numbness or an answer. An answer to the equation, to his nagging parents and peers, or to why the forest would stare back at him. 

Mana would claw at any and everyone who dared to embrace him, and then weep at how truly touch starved he was. Starved enough so that the wind howling through the forest of trees felt like cold enveloping arms around him. Whether it was to swallow him whole in a big gulp or to comfort him, it didn’t matter to Mana.

Mana had a habit of counting numbers for each of his steps, always in the rhythm of a waltz.  One.Two.Three. 



 As if he was dancing against the sea of people to make it across to shore and to the forest. 

To the forest where the leaves would scatter and ruffle with laughter. Where he could dance the waltz the forest had taught him and the only eyes to view where the hallow markings of the birch trees.The weeds of the forest would cling to his shoes whenever he tried to leave.Though Mana would convince the forest that he would return. The forest would bid him goodbye with blossoming flowers, and threaten him with prickly thorns. Mana thought the latter was unnecessary, Mana would live and die with the forest. Let his body decompose and feed his only friend. 


“Vivisection” by Tegan Baez


“There’s a lot of pain in this piece yet I really enjoy the small details, such as the hands coming out of his head grasping on to the pins, he’s unable to let him self free no matter how much he wants. The eyes around his crotch are similar to cuts, and his exposed stomach and guts feels like being turned inside out. The meaning of all my art is up to interpretation, but I wanted to express sexual trauma. I thought drawing a vivisection – the practice of operating on a live animal –  would show the cruelty and how it feels to have everything stripped from you. . . . . I feel like due to trauma you can become desensitized or detached and so while he isn’t crying his body is crying for him. Sometimes the animals will survive, although they will either be killed or used again for another experiment. I question what’s more merciful, is the gift of life worth all that pain, having it done all over again?” – Tegan

“Unrequited Love” by Tegan Baez

Unrequited Love

“This is piece is inspired by a song about unrequited love and how it’s ugly feelings can make you hopeless and bitter.” – Tegan

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