Author of Uncommon Geography and recipient of Pudding House’s “Greatest Hits Chapbook” award, Therese Halscheid has turned her attention to creative nonfiction in recent years. Her lyric essays have appeared in the Gettysburg Review, Tampa Review, Phoebe, Hotel America, South Loop, and New Delta Review, where she received 2nd in their Creative Nonfiction Contest. An itinerant writer, she lives on the road as a house-sitter to write in varied settings. She teaches for Atlantic Cape Community College, and offers creative writing workshops in different locations.
Therese will be leading a Saturday morning feature called “The Lyric Essay.” She describes the lyric essay as: “Part poem, part narrative…” In this session, Therese will leap past the construct of linear essays, to explore the artful features of this hybrid form. Structural elements such as imagery, rhythm fragmentation, and other creative devices will be the touchstone of discussion. The class will examine excerpts from notable lyric essayists before engaging in a writing exercise.
We asked Therese to share some thoughts on inspiration and being a writer. See what she had to say after the break!
PWC: Where do you draw your inspiration?
TH: Much inspiration is drawn from place. For 20 years, I have taken a contemplative approach to writing by way of house-sitting — caring for properties and pets in different environments. The chance to look out different windows invigorates, and I can clear old thoughts and see things anew. When I am in rustic settings, I immerse myself in the natural world and find much solace in nature which, in turn, assists the creative process. It is true that earth opens the writer’s eye. Whether I write about place or cull the mood from a place to write of other things, the world around us is endlessly inspiring.
PWC: When did you first realize you were a writer?
TH: It’s a complex question I think, one that is often thought of but hard to pinpoint. If I think back, I think back to those initial years of dedicating myself to writing, and yet I could not claim “being” that word. At first I simply said “I’m writing.” Then, on a day I cannot commit to a calendar, I felt I had grown into that the word (writer) and deserved to use it. In terms of why, I usually tell people that I didn’t choose writing, it chose me. And I share that because it was not a conscious choice. I was teaching full-time, and thought that would be my lifelong vocation. Then, I was given May Sarton’s Journal of a Solitude one winter, and could not put it down. I then began my own journal and the urges started. Writing became a necessity, a pull that I gave into. It’s important to follow those urges when they come. They are as fleeting as dreams. There are interesting anecdotes of well-known writers who gave into these urges of inspiration, and made them a priority. William Carlos Williams for example, would write ideas for poems on the backs of prescription tablets in-between patient visits. Thus we have the highly anthologized poem “The Red Wheelbarrow.” And we have Carl Sandburg’s “Fog” scribbled on a piece of scrap paper as he passed a harbor on a foggy morning.
Want to meet Therese and learn about the Lyric Essay? There’s still time to register by clicking HERE!