The Writer caught up with Theresa right before her book Green goes on sale!
What was the impetus for the writing of this book?
Green began years ago as the result of an exercise in an MFA creative writing workshop at Goddard College led by Dr. Jane Wohl. For a while it was a hybrid poem, using a mix of poetry and prose to form the strophes. However, after teaching a couple of The Art of Poetry courses at Marist College and studying how poetry is art/art poetry, especially the work of Emily Kendal Frey and Kate Greenstreet, I realized that although it was risky, I wanted to pare down Green and use white space on the pages to create the slower rhythm of the lines and the narrative.
Where did you “find” either the theme or the main characters?
Some people who have read the first edition of Green (Another New Calligraphy), have asked if the character of the grandson is my younger son and if the story is about him. No to both questions. The grandson is very much a fictional character. And MM’s character (the grandmother) began in the writing for Jane’s workshop. MM really is a mixture of everyone’s grandmother or no one’s. As the long poem evolved, which it did over a few years, it was then that I realized that the use of the word green throughout the story was an extended metaphor for grief. I guess there are some spots in the book that give hints of my life: greens and blues (my favorite colors as a kid), MM’s trampoline (My husband and I bought a trampoline for our two sons, and we all used it for many years), flowers, gardens, and floral fragrances (I love all of these). But the story pushed itself out over a long time, then cut itself down.
What did you do when the going got tough?
I struggle writing many of my poems although there have been a very select few in which I was able to riff off another poet’s poem in response. So “the going usually gets tough” for me. And with Green, the first few drafts (which I thought were ready for publication) were rejected. But I received some positive, constructive feedback from a couple of editors and just kept revising, always staying true to what I wanted to say and how I wanted it to appear on the page. Also, remembering what Bea Gates, one of my mentors at Goddard said to me years ago, helped and continues to help. Bea said to ask yourself what it is you want to say in the poem; and when I look at other writers’ poems, ask the same question: “What is it that they are trying to say in the poem.” Keeping this in mind has helped me tremendously to write and, especially, to revise. So the longer it took me to realize what I wanted to share in Green, the more I was able to revise and get to the heart of the piece: to write a little book that would help readers realize the weight of grief but the possibility of life and love.
The direct link to pre-order Green (Finishing Line Press) by December 18, 2015: https://finishinglinepress.com/product_info.php?products_id=2516.