Once again, GLVWG’s intrepid Dawn Sooy took the time to interview award winning poet, writer, teacher, and photographer, Therése Halscheid, who will present Writing From The Inside Out, at The Write Stuff Conference™ on Saturday, March 25, 2017.
DS – It sounds like you have a busy schedule and have traveled extensively. Do you have a family? If so, what kind of reaction do you get when you are ready to leave home?”
Therése – I do not have a traditional family. My comings and goings reflect my writing process, which is to say that I am nomadic. I live on the road to write — largely by way of house-sitting or artist colonies or teaching opportunities. It is a contemplative lifestyle though I often feel those I house-sit for are my extended family. There is a sense of oneness when our lives join for periods of time. Over the years there have been occasions where a partner has joined me, which made the house-sit very enjoyable. It is a lifestyle that requires no home though, for me, home is wherever I am on Earth.
DS – Who is your favorite author(s)? Why were they favorites?
Therése – I gravitate towards different authors for various reasons. These reasons often have to do with the way the writer is writing. It can be that I am moved by their content but, basically, much of my fascination has to do with form. Forms, and the author’s compelling language through which genius is sensed. One such poet is James Wright. I like the profoundness of his brevity, and the turns his poems take. His endings stay inside me for quite awhile. I have been impressed with the essays of John Haines in his book The Stars, The Snow, The Fire as well as Gretel Ehrlich’s essay collections based upon her travels into the wild. Both writers are observers of place, wanderers in their own right. Their journeys took them into remote areas, where they endured harsh environments. Both have a lyrical quality I admire, a delicate attention to earth.
DS – How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Therése – My first book rose out of my first two years on the road, a period where I was really risking everything to write. Powertalk is the title of that first collection. Sometimes I call it a starter kit, but it was more than that. It did not change my process, in terms of the way I write. That seems to be slowly evolving all the time, and would have happened whether or not I published a book. Rather, my first book took my writing outward. Through its publication many opportunities came forth in terms of readings, craft talks, and other venues.
DS – What was the hardest scene for you to write?
Therése – I have been writing essays of my deceased father, who suffered from brain damage for thirty years, when alive. Recalling scenes of my life with him, have been challenging. It is one thing to have memories swimming in your head but when you commit them to paper, they are brought to life in a visible, tangible way. They have by far been the hardest to write.
DS – What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Therése – There is a phenomenon that can occur when writing – be it prose or poetry — that has to do with a writer believing they have transferred their story to the reader. It helps to write as if the reader knows nothing. That does not mean one has to belabor every detail. It means that at some point in the revision process, one should take a step back and ask the question: Am I clear? If you keep your reader in mind, your writing will take on a precision that will have them experience your words. You don’t want them questioning what they have read. You want them to be immersed and even participate in the journey you are taking them on.
DS – How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Therése – I have four full-length published collections, a chapbook award, and an unpublished manuscript of essays.
DS – What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
Therése – Worry over what will happen to the work. Ahh, if I could just allow those initial thoughts to spill without all that worry….
DS – What are the most important magazines for writers to subscribe to?
Therése – Poets & Writers is a magazine that I highly recommend. There is an online format as well as hard copy. Writers Digest is another. Writers may want to learn about magazine publications on their own, through a great website called New Pages. Another is Duotrope. Magazines that participate in these sites will share their guidelines and will steer you to their website where you can read a sampling of published work. These sites often include interviews and articles on craft as well.
Therése will conduct a seminar, Writing From The Inside Out, at The Write Stuff Conference™ on Saturday, March 25, 2017. By using poems as a springboard for discussion, this workshop shares what happens within us when we write. We will discuss and practice ways to ignite the potent language of the interior self so that writing becomes a felt experience.
Therése Halscheid’s previous poetry collections include Powertalk, Without Home, Uncommon Geography, which won a finalist award for the Paterson Poetry Book Prize; and Greatest Hits, a chapbook award from Pudding House Publications. Her poetry, essays and short stories have appeared in magazines such as The Gettysburg Review, Tampa Review, Sou’wester, Tiferet, among others. She has received Fellowships from The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and NJ State Council on the Arts. You can read the acolades at Press53 Publishing
For the past two decades, she has been an itinerant writer by way of house-sitting, caring for others’ homes and animals (see Services). This mobility, along with simple living, has helped her to sustain her writing life. Her photography chronicles her journey, and has been in several juried shows
Therése received her MA from Rowan University and MFA from Rutgers University, and currently teaches for Atlantic Cape Community College, NJ. Through cultural exchange programs she has traveled widely, and taught in England and Russia. Through the Alaskan Arts Council, she had the privilege of working with an Inupiaq Eskimo tribe on White Mountain, as well as a residency in Homer. She frequently visits schools to engage students in the creative writing process, and offers professional development workshops to teachers, and grades K-12.