With her release of this deceptively slim collection, “Bent: 31 Poems,” T A Price is being touted as one of North Carolina’s best poets. Price draws you into her world with vignettes of rural life and intimate portraits. The foreword is written by one of the south’s most prominent writers, Ron Rash, American poet, short story writer and novelist, and Parris Distinguished Professor in Appalachian Cultural Studies. Bent 31 Poems is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Grateful Steps Publishing in Asheville, North Carolina.
I’m truly thrilled to be chatting with you today, Teresa. Thank you for taking the time to have this interview. It means a lot to me and the community. So, what inspired these 31 poetic creations?
For over a decade, readers and friends have asked me to release a volume of poetry. A couple of summers ago writer and friend, John Walker, former frontman for the acclaimed Texas band “Midnight Rodeo,” former mayor of China, Texas, and founder and Director of the Hardin-Jefferson Hunger Initiative convinced me to proceed with the acceptance of Grateful Steps Publishing in Asheville, NC to release a collection of poems.
As a writer, support really is a driving force. I’m glad your friends (John especially) had such a positive influence on your creative path. When and how did poetry become a part of your journey?
Writing poetry has always been a core part of my existence. I began reading and writing prior to entering kindergarten, and my mother was always collecting and saving my scraps, as if each letter could not be tossed. When I was in the 2nd grade, my teacher, Katherine Stark, at Alice Shaw Elementary in Santa Maria California, called my mother to tell her that I was consumed with writing poems, and that she wanted to publish one of them called, “If I Had Wings.” Similar teacher interest remained constant throughout my education, and in high school at Rutherfordton Spindale (Central), English teacher Catherine Long sent some of my poems to various publications. That year, “Ezro, The Turkey Man,” received first place and publication in Reflections Literary Magazine (Gardner-Webb University). Since that time, I have juggled my inherent desire to write, along with motherhood and a career as an educator, of which I have recently retired.
And how wonderful that you had such supportive teachers as well! I love that your love of poetry began so early on for you. So, what messages are you striving to convey in this poetry collection?
Most of my work allows the reader an intimate glance into my intuition and impressions of heart. These glances are at the core of my writing. I hear a heart, I revel in nature, and I embrace love, and it is this exchange between life and my own soul that poetically taps out a lyrical line and a shape of verse in response. That’s immensely beautiful! Surely, you’ve had a lot of influences along the way… Can you name a few?
Sarah Teasdale, Robert Frost, Robert Hayden, and Witter Bynner.
All great choices, especially Robert Frost. Inspiration, check. Writing journey, check. Influences, check. Now, may you please disclose some information about your poetry writing process?
I write on napkins in restaurants, scraps in my purse, paper near my bed upon waking when a verse rushes out. I stop midstream to list a moment, or to note an observance, and later when I am still and quiet, I recall and revisit the impression and allow my muse free range with a pen. Sometimes, I attempt to “schedule” writing time, but invariably I return to the former where I record life in the midst of living it, catching and composing glimpses, in snatches, and in real time. Honestly, that’s the way to be! I absolutely love the way you worded all that. Now, to switch gears on you once again… Since you have been published off and on throughout your life, why did you wait so long to release a collection (if you don’t mind me asking)?
My mother once startled me while I was writing in a nook. I did not hear her come into my home, nor did I sense her in my space, until she said, “I can only imagine what you would have become had you not become a mother.” I was reminded of a line I’d loved in “Terms of Endearment,” when Aurora (Shirley McClaine) asks, “How will your life get better if you keep having children with that man?” So life happened and mostly as a seclusionist, I continued to write in the wee hours of the morning, in the middle of the night, at ballgames, and in nooks. Poems were then stuffed into notebooks, and boxes, and eventually left as remnants on hard drives.
After Walker encouraged and convinced me to release a volume, I began meeting with Dr. Dwight Stephens to read aloud verses I’d collected from the various hoards. With his discipline as an example, I was able to proceed with some method of organization which is now ongoing. I have more volumes to produce, and now with some sense of cataloging of a life in place, the release of a life of piling is now in process.
That makes perfect sense. I appreciate all the insight you’ve given me and the community. Before we part ways, feel free to leave us with a few concluding words.
I am humbled by the reader reviews that I have received thus far, and by the rich support extended from the notable Rash brothers, both the writer Ron, and the documentarist, Tom. Their support and advice has been immeasurable at this time in my writing life.
Just as you are gratitude-filled, as am I. Thank you so very much, again, for speaking with me about your vibrant life and current poetry book. 🧡