Friday, June 26, 2015

West Caldwell Poetry Festival Featured Poet: Therese Halscheid

Therese Halscheid was one of the six featured poets at the 2015 West Caldwell Poetry Festival.

Therése Halscheid’s most recent book of poems is Frozen Latitudes (Press 53). Other collections include Uncommon Geography, Without Home, Powertalk, and a Greatest Hits chapbook. Her poetry and lyric essays have appeared in many journals, among them The Gettysburg Review, Tampa Review, Crab Orchard Review, and Natural Bridge. By way of house-sitting, she has been an itinerant writer for several years. Her travels have taken her from the Florida Panhandle to the Arctic north of Alaska, where she lived with and taught poetry to an Eskimo Inupiaq tribe.

Frozen Latitudes melds two journeys, where lives are at the very edge of survival. One is the literal location of Alaska where Halscheid lived among clans of an Inupiaq tribe, as well as in the frontier town of Homer. The second location is the place and time where her father’s life was frozen when, during heart surgery, he suffered brain damage. In this collection, the journey into the cold becomes a metaphor for a family struggling with dementia.

Praise for Frozen Latitudes:
“'My lips, bright as scars, are parting / open with words,' writes Therése Halscheid. In these moving poems of loss, interwoven with vivid poems inspired by people and the landscape of Alaska, she composes resonant lines imbued with deep emotion."
          —Arthur Sze, author of Compass Rose

Frozen Latitudes won Honorable Mention for The Eric Hoffer Book Award for Poetry. The collection is reviewed in the US Review of Books. Read the Review

Click Cover for Amazon

Trash Day

This is how it really looked long ago….

This is myself back in time, a girl
with sallow skin, dragging metal cans to the curb,
notice how I stand for awhile that far from our house
watch how my lips, bright as scars, are parting
open with words so the great air can take them
out of their mystery --

see how my thoughts form the storms, how the morning sky
fills with dark sentences

always something about aphasia, his dementia,
something always about my father caught
so quiet inside me

that would rise in the wind to become
something readable.

I am only fourteen. But you can tell I look old
as if life is ending. Notice how my limbs droop so
willow-like over the trash, see how the cans
are all packed with food, know I am starving myself, I am
that full of my father….

These are our neighbors, each turning in their sleep as they wake,
each waking as they turn from their room to the window
watching the weather above them.

And this is an image of the whole town in shock.
See how they dread my gray hovering grief, just watch
as they walk, how they carry on with the endless clouds
I made weekly, correctly, so very awful and coming
into their eyes.

Here's the prompt that Therese challenged us all to try:
Select a topic that is risky for you and allow yourself to free-write about it. A few lines, a paragraph, a page, it does not matter. Just spend a few moments writing. Then go back to what you have written and circle a sentence or phrase. Lift it out. Using that sentence or phrase as a starting point, free-write again. This exercise is helpful in allowing you to experience how writing unfolds in layers. Note how you are moving from a surface experience to crisp details, from abstracts to images. You can try this again and again as a way to enter the heart of the matter, which then becomes powerful material for a poem. 

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