Smoking With Theresa Boyar

Read the Story December 15, 2005

If you knew the amount of love and respect for you at SmokeLong, well, heck, you’d marry us all. This piece awed all of us. “…a sudden obliteration of sky…” Leaves me breathless and shaking. How do you feel when writing such a piece?—reading it over?

I wish I could say I felt feverish with discovery, or something like that, but when it comes down to it, the truth is simple (and maybe a little dorky): I feel really, really happy when I write. I try to be “in” the piece as much as possible. As flaky as it sounds, I close my eyes and try to exist in the world that I’m building. And it’s fun.

Reading something over typically isn’t as much fun for me. I tend to be hypercritical of myself, and so the editing process can be pretty grueling. I take things out and put them back in, then take them out again. As a result, there are a lot of ghosts attached to everything I write, and sometimes it’s a struggle to see through them all ~ to see what is actually on paper, as opposed to what could have been.

I feel, deep down in my core, a mixing of dark and light in each of these sections, of cosmos and chaos, of substance and shadow, mother and son. Help, over and over again. A black sky holding something coming for her. The glinting water on his small back. It’s all so beautiful and brilliant, Theresa. How did this piece come together for you?

First of all, thank you! This is a tricky question to answer. I wrote these segments over a period of eight years. The last section, Stars, was written first—a few lines jotted in a notebook and then put away. I knew I wanted to eventually do something with it because every time I came back to it, I still liked it, which is unusual for me. I wrote the Birds section four years ago, and that too was something scribbled in a notebook and set aside. Then I shuffled through some old stuff one day, and these two pieces seemed to belong together. From there it was a matter of bridge-building, I guess, of fleshing them out and creating that inner section. I was interested in playing with some of the darker elements of motherhood, the idea that you can love your children with all your heart, but on some days, you still want to up and fly away, to go somewhere else or be someone else. It was important to me, though, that it end on a positive note, which—for me—it does.

Talk about the interplay between your poetry, prose poems, and flash fiction pieces.

I’ve begun to really appreciate the benefit of experimenting with changing forms. I see it as giving your writing a different pair of shoes to try on ~ Here, if you’re not getting anywhere in those clunky winter boots, then let’s try on these nice sandals. That sort of thing. And sometimes it’s all a piece needs to help it move. The difficult thing is that I can be incredibly stubborn and slow-witted when it comes to recognizing a need for new shoes. Even this piece ~ I had it in my head that those lines I jotted down would someday become a poem. And the lines stayed in that notebook for years, because it was hard for me to see them as anything but a poem.

A six-time Puschart Prize nominee. (Wow!) Are you starting to feel like Susan Lucci? You did grow up in Hollywood after all (Florida, yes, but still Hollywood). And how’s the search for a publisher going for your completed chapbook, Kitchen Witch?

HA!

The publisher search continues . . . and likely will continue for months (maybe years). I haven’t been particularly active in submitting it, but hope to have more time for that after the holidays. We’ll see . . .

A new year approaches (yikes!). So, what’s the best that 2005 had to offer in literature, web sites, music, movies, television, DVD, and the like? Also, any predictions for 2006? And we’d love to hear your New Year’s resolution.

I am so behind the times on things like this. I tend to discover things much later than most people. I mean, right now I’m reading Best American Short Stories ~ from 1987. This year, I finally read The Corrections, Wicked, & The Poisonwood Bible, which have all been out for a while. Part of it has to do with wanting to wait for the buzz to die down so I can approach something without too many expectations. Part of it has to do with laziness, and the fact that I’m a slow reader.

In television, I’ve just discovered That 70s Show, and have become a huge fan. But I’m told it only has another season or so left. I’m cursed that way. By the time I get around to finding something, it’s usually on its way out. Same thing happened with Buffy, dammit. And music is difficult for me to categorize by year.

My most recent download spree on iTunes included songs by Death Cab for Cutie, Taj Mahal, the Killers, Fiona Apple, the Black Eyed Peas, Muddy Waters, Aimee Mann, and, um, Motley Crue ~ so I’m sort of all over the place.

Re: 2006 predictions ~ My sister has forbidden me from forecasting the future ever since I wrote an article for the school paper, predicting that “Slippery When Wet” would drive Bon Jovi into absolute obscurity. And as far as a New Year’s resolution goes, ummm, I’m working on it . . .

About the Author:

Theresa Boyar lives in Helena, Montana, with her husband and two sons. Her short story "Random Girl" was a Notable Online Story of 2003 in storySouth's Million Writer's Award. Her poems, fiction, and creative nonfiction have appeared in Small Spiral Notebook, Eclectica, the Florida Review, Lynx Eye, Rattle, Ink Pot, Pierian Springs, and other print and online journals.

About the Artist:

A native of Ohio, Marty D. Ison lives with his wife transplanted in the sands of the Gulf of Mexico. He studied fine arts at Saint Petersburg College. In addition to the visual arts, he writes poetry, short stories, and novels. See more of Ison's work here.