Tzivia Gover is the author of LEARNING IN MRS. TOWNE’S HOUSE: A TEACHER, HER STUDENTS, AND THE WOMAN WHO INSPIRED THEM, and MINDFUL MOMENTS FOR STRESSFUL DAYS, among others. Her articles and essays have appeared in numerous publications including The New York Times and The Boston Globe, and over a dozen anthologies. Gover received her MFA in creative nonfiction from Columbia University. She teaches poetry to teen mothers in Holyoke. She was recently interviewed by Cheryl Malandrinos.
Why did you become a writer?
Good question! I was writing poems at age 10, and have been journaling since age 12. I don’t ever remember deciding to be a writer, it seems I just was one from the start. I became a professional writer at age 25, because I had a newborn baby to feed and I needed a job. I’d tried other things, such as being a baker and a store manager, but frankly I wasn’t any good at anything else I tried. So, writing it was! I have continued because writing helps me understand the world and my place in it. It’s pretty much how I think constructively and how I investigate my thoughts, feelings, and beliefs … and anything else that catches my curiosity.
What is the most rewarding part of being a writer? The most frustrating?
The most rewarding part is the opportunity to craft a message and have it be received by an audience of one or many. I love trying to create lines of poetry or prose that are as clear, precise, and elegant as I can make them.
The most frustrating part is never feeling like I have enough time write, or to market what I’ve written—to get it out in the world.
Can you tell us about your latest release?
Sure, if you twist my arm.
My most recent book is LEARNING IN MRS. TOWNE’S HOUSE: A TEACHER, HER STUDENTS AND THE WOMAN WHO INSPIRED THEM (Levellers Press, Massachusetts). It is the story of my first year teaching poetry at The Care Center, and the tale I uncovered in our creative, colorful, and slightly chaotic school. You can learn more at http://www.learninginmrstowneshouse.com
What inspired it?
In the spring of 2000, I decided to leave the world of daily journalism to teach poetry to teen mothers in Holyoke, Mass. White, suburban and Jewish, I couldn’t have felt more different from the urban, Puerto Rican students I met on that first day of class. Nor could I have anticipated the lessons I would learn from and with them.
LEARNING IN MRS. TOWNE’S HOUSE was my way of telling my students’ stories, which are otherwise only known in statistics and sensationalist takes in the media. The book was also my way to integrate all I was learning from my work with them.
You’re sitting on the Revision Panel at this year’s WriteAngles conference. Can you tell us a little bit about what you’re planning?
John Mcphee says you’re not really writing until the fourth draft. I like that. To me writing is re-writing. Revision is what it’s all about. I hear writers complain about revision, but I love the process. I’ll try to inspire others to love it, too!
What are you working on now?
What aren’t I working on? I write a couple of blogs, and I’m working on at least three different books: A collection of personal essays (I’m not sure what the book’s title will be, but the subtitle will be something about “love, sex, and solitude,” which is the theme of the essays). I’m also trying to sell at Young Adult novel about the world’s pickiest eater. I’m also a Certified Dream Therapist, and I’m working on a book to help people understand and work with their dreams.
Where can we find you online?
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Channukah begins on November 28 (on Thanksgiving) and Christmas is close behind. Books by local authors make great gifts! LEARNING IN MRS. TOWNE’S HOUSE http://www.learninginmrstowneshouse.com/makes a great gift for the teacher, poet, or lover of social justice in your life, and it’s available in paperback and Kindle format. Just sayin’. :)