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Terese Svoboda

Piper Writers Studio Instructor 2019

About Terese Svoboda

A Guggenheim fellow, Terese Svoboda is the author most recently of Professor Harriman's Steam Air-Ship (poetry, 2016) and Anything That Burns You: A Portrait of Lola Ridge, Radical Poet (biography, 2018), and Great American Desert (stories, 2019). She's won the Bobst Prize in fiction, the Iowa Prize for poetry, an NEH grant for translation, the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize, the O. Henry award for the short story, the Bobst prize for the novel, and a Pushcart Prize for the essay. Her opera WET premiered at L.A.'s Disney Hall. She's taught at Williams, Columbia School of the Arts, William and Mary, Bennington, Sarah Lawrence, New School, Davidson, the Universities of Tampa, Miami and Hawaii, as well as in Tbilisi, Nairobi and St. Petersburg for the Summer Literary Seminars.

More About Terese Svoboda

Svoboda, Terese. "Frangipani." Guernica, October 30, 2017.

Singular, the way each male member of the expedition keeps his face serious before pulling on the joint. Well, yes, it is their last, and blessed be whomever digs up a dealer here, so many thousands of miles across the ocean. The language alone.

But the natives speak the same one. The explorer with the roach is explaining the real root of their problem: we must think island. It’s got to be hidden.

---. "The Blank of America."

Who loots the dew or enjoins
a shadow to guard a tree?

The bird in the pie can’t pretend
to arms, its claws rock

the coin in the crust.
The train’s single eye

examines the tree that the pie
holds the fruit of,

its engine rasps past the bird
as if smoke lent its shadow.

And the dew? Surely
it’s a dark gulp under a tall hat

the bird wings over.
Not noise, not the founding father’s

nose. Repeat after me:
I solemnly swear:

I could swear otherwise,
my lips flying too.

---. "To Plot or Not." The Center for Fiction.

I don't plot. I started out as a poet. You don’t need plot in poetry, you have the page, all that dramatic white space, the ends of lines and stanza breaks to organize and build suspense. Readers hang on every word in poetry—and every word omitted. What readers hang on in fiction is just as complicated but perhaps the unrevealed tantalizes the fiction reader the most. The unrevealed is plot. That is to say, plot is basically withholding information in order to string the reader along to find out more. It can be as simple as not revealing whodunit or what’s in the box in the last chapter.

---. "Alfalfa." Literary Hub, June 4, 2018.

The year I lick so much LSD off stamps I have to use Elmer’s glue to back the twenty-center for a postcard cash request to my mother, that I am alive note at the end of term, is the year of all the “wine” parties.


Svoboda, Terese & Sneeden, Ralph. "Contributors in Conversation: Terese Svoboda and Ralph Sneeden." The Common, December 6, 2016.

In this episode of The Common’s Contributors in Conversation podcast, Issue 08 contributors Terese Svoboda and Ralph Sneeden read and discuss their pieces “Dutch Joe” and “Stepping Off.”