Author Q&A with T.M. Thomson
by Christine Nessler
March 9, 2023
This week’s Author Q & A is with T. M. Thomson. Thomson’s work has most recently appeared in Soundings East and Bluebird Word and will appear in Pink Panther Magazine and Evocations in the upcoming months. Three of her poems have been nominated for Pushcart Awards: Seahorse and Moon in 2005, I Walked Out in January in 2016, and Strum and Lull in 2018. She is the author of Strum and Lull (2019) and The Profusion (2019), which placed in Golden Walkman’s 2017 chapbook competition, and co-author of Frame and Mount the Sky (2017). Her full-length collection Plunge will be out in 2023. She has a writer’s page at https://www.facebook.com/TaunjaThomsonWriter/.
Thomson’s poem, Ascension, is featured in Issue #10 of The Good Life Review.
Tell us about yourself.
I am a former college instructor of English who now focuses on my writing, both the creative process and publishing. I am an animal lover, especially of cats; an art lover; a nature lover; a reader of mysteries; a devotee of Stevie Nicks; a huge fan of Steve Irwin and all that he stood for; a player in mud; a feeder of wild birds.
What inspired you to write Ascension? Why?
I wrote Ascension because I came across that lovely piece of art Swimming between Clouds by Niels Cortfitzen. The woman rising above this mundane world, combined with those words from Louise Gluck– “I am tired of having hands/she said/I want wings —/But what will you do without your hands/to be human?/I am tired of human/she said/I want to live on the sun” —set me to thinking about freedom and what it really is, especially for women, who have tended historically to be the ones stuck with the more tedious, home-oriented tasks.
What message do you hope reaches your audience through Ascension?
I am hoping to inspire readers to realize that, often, freedom lies in their own hands, their own minds. When we move beyond the normal expectations of this world, the notions of others, the landscape around and below us gets smaller and stranger, but our inner landscape becomes richer.
What impacted you most when writing it?
Writing Ascension became an act of rebellion in and of itself for me and has spurred me to write many more poems about personal empowerment.
Tell us about the work you have done or do that makes you most proud.
I don’t know if there’s really one poem, or even a group of my poems, that I can say makes me the most proud. I will say that any of my work that takes readers to places they otherwise might not have gone, that makes them think harder about a concept or a reality, that helps them to find a piece of wisdom, is a source of pride for me.
What is your writing process? How do you make it a part of your daily life?
I set aside three or four afternoons each week for poetic activities—by that, I am referring not only to writing but to submitting my work for publication. If I am not inspired to write, I will look at my cache of art from the Internet to find a springboard for a poem. I believe it was F. Scott Fitzgerald who was asked, “Are you often inspired to write?” and who replied, “Yes, every morning at 9.” Contrary to the popular belief that writing only happens when the writer is inspired, to be good at writing, one must write on a regular basis, even if not every resulting word or phrase or poem is amazing. It’s the doing that makes one a better writer.
Do you have a specific genre you enjoy writing the most?
I write literary fiction. I love poetry, but I’m entirely in awe of people who are able to write it. There are wonderful science fiction writers (Samuel Delaney, Ursala K. LeGuin, Octavia Butler, N. K. Jeminsin), but I find much of this genre formulaic and uninspiring.
What is your favorite type of poetry to write?
I’m a very visual person, even to the point of having synesthesia (the experiencing of one sense through another)—I see every letter, every word, every name, in color. So it’s no surprise that I love to write poetry that is imagistic, poems that get to a truth through imagery, usually nature-based.
How does poetry help you to navigate through life??
The process of expressing one’s feelings and truths is cathartic and provocative; sometimes it even helps me to untangle and clarify thoughts and ideas that were muddled.
What part of the artistic process do you consider to be the most difficult, as well as most satisfying, and why?
The most difficult parts of the writing process for me are those moments when I can’t get a poem to work, even after a few drafts. Any kind of writing requires patience, which is not a strong point for me. And sometimes I have to give up on a poem, admit defeat, which really bothers me.
As for the most satisfying aspect of writing poetry, that would have to be the moment I complete a poem and know it’s a good one, even if it requires a few improvements, that creative “A-ha” moment.
What do you think of when you hear the phrase, “The Good Life?”
To me “The Good Life” means having space for one’s creative process, whether that’s poetry, painting, terrarium-building, soul searching, making a new dish, pondering the nature of the universe—to have that room in one’s life to enjoy creativity, that’s a wonderful type of freedom, which I guess goes back to the theme of Ascension.
Wonderful! Thank you, T.M., for taking the time to answer our questions and for sharing your work with us. We wish you the best in life and with all your writing endeavors!