with Theresa Werba (formerly Theresa Rodriguez)
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
Theresa: I’m sure I started writing in earnest in junior high school. In high school we studied the sonnet form and fell in love with its musicality and beauty! I began writing sonnets and experimenting with formal poetry while also writing free verse. I suppose I have my high school English teacher to thank for being one of my first influences!
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Theresa: I would have to say that I am my own biggest influence today. I re-read my own work, old and new, with a critical eye (trying to avoid nostalgia) and work to hone and refine everything, from the absent comma to a full-scale overhaul of a line or two, or allocating a poem to the “junk pile” of lousy poetic attempts.
Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing? Have any travels away from home influence your work?
Theresa: I grew up in a brownstone near Gramercy Park in Manhattan during the 60s and 70s. New York has always been a high-energy, creative place where people are trying new things and coming up with interesting ideas and innovative solutions, always at a fast pace, always with great intensity and a no-nonsense approach. I suppose I will always be a New Yorker, since I still have that city edge, even though I’ve been out of the city for over thirty years. I still don’t take crap from anyone and move way too fast for most people around me!
Q4: What do you consider your most meaningful work that you’ve done creatively so far?
Theresa: Two works are of great meaning creatively to me so far. Since transitioning from Theresa Rodriguez to Theresa Werba, my most meaningful work is my current revision of an earlier book I had written, which is now tentatively being titled Trauma to Truth: An Adoption Story. It tells the story of my being an adopted child growing up in an abusive home, finding my birth mother, and only recently, though DNA testing, finding my biological father, who turned out to be someone my mother doesn’t even remember. In 2020 I changed my name to take his last name, and I am very proud of my newly-discovered Jewish heritage. I hope to have the book ready for publication within the year. The other work is what I consider to be my “magnum opus,” which I am tentatively titling What Was and Is: Formal Poetry and Free Verse, which will be a sort of “best of” work from my previous three poetry books in addition to new material. (These previous books are Jesus and Eros: Sonnets, Poems, and Songs (Bardsinger Books, 2015), Longer Thoughts (Shanti Arts, 2020), and Sonnets (Shanti Arts, 2020), my collection of sixty-five sonnets). Since my previous works have been published under the name Theresa Rodriguez, it will be highly meaningful to publish these new works under the name Theresa Werba.
Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Theresa: I’m not sure I ever “wanted” to be a poet; I always was a poet! I was writing little poems when I was as young as ten years old, always writing songs, always having a journal, always creating, always writing. It was never not part of me!
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Theresa: I enjoy word games, reading, sewing, swimming, playing the piano, laying in my bed with my laptop watching Youtube videos, and very hot tubs with lavender and epsom salts!
Q7: Any recent or upcoming promotional work that you’d like promote?
Theresa: I just revamped my website with my name Theresa Werba (www.bardsinger.com) as well as my Instagram and Twitter (@thesonnetqueen). There you can find out about my previous books (which are still under the name Theresa Rodriguez) as well as see my performance poetry videos.
Q8: What is a favorite line from a poem of yours?
“For writing is the labor of the mind;
And I have birthed my children all in kind.”
(from “The Word-Birth Sonnet, “ found in Sonnets http://www.shantiarts.co/uploads/files/pqr/RODRIGUEZ_SONNETS.html or on Amazon.
Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?
Theresa: I suppose Daniel Webster, because I refer to the Merriam-Webster dictionary almost every time I set down to write!
Bio: Theresa Werba (formerly Theresa Rodriguez) is 60-year old poet, author and voice teacher who was diagnosed with autism in her 50s and bipolar disorder since her 20s. She is the author of Jesus and Eros: Sonnets, Poems and Songs (Bardsinger Books, 2015), Longer Thoughts (Shanti Arts, 2020), and Sonnets, a collection of sixty-five sonnets (Shanti Arts, 2020). Her work has appeared in such journals as The Scarlet Leaf Review, The Wilderness House Literary Review, Spindrift, Mezzo Cammin, The Wombwell Rainbow, Serotonin, The Road Not Taken, and the Society of Classical Poets Journal. Her work ranges from forms such as the ode and sonnet to free verse, with topics ranging from neurodivergence, love, loss, aging, to faith and disillusionment and more. Her website is http://www.bardsinger.com, where you can view videos of her performance poetry and find information about her books. Follow Theresa on Instagram and Twitter @thesonnetqueen.