William & Mary

Writer on the Go

If you think that the trek from Morton Hall to Tucker Hall is a long one, imagine making the trip from New York City twice a week. Although it may seem incredible, College writer-in-residence Terese Svoboda is no stranger to the commute. 

She travels to the College from her home in the city, where she resides with her husband and two sons, but she doesn't seem to mind the eight-hour train ride.

"I love the students here," Svoboda said. "They are all extremely enthusiastic."

Originally from Nebraska, Svoboda received her undergraduate education in British Columbia with a double major in Studio Art and Creative Writing, and went on to obtain a Master's Degree at Columbia University.

"When I went to college everyone was an artist. 10 years later everyone was a doctor or a lawyer, but I was still an artist," Svoboda said. 

Currently, Svoboda is teaching Advanced Fiction and Poetry at the College. 

"I teach the students how to imitate contemporary writers to find new tools to find their own voice," Svoboda said. "It's a matter of how to lie and tell the truth at the same time." 

She is one of the traveling professors, invited by the school to teach here for a semester in order to provide students with an opportunity to gain knowledge from teachers who do not hold a permanent job at the college. Svoboda has been a visiting professor at Williams College, The University of Hawaii and Sarah Lawrence College.

When she finished college, Svoboda immediately traveled to the South Pacific and Sudan on grants. Her first book, "Cannibal," which took 15 years to complete, was based on her findings during her expedition in Africa. "Trailer Girl," "A Drink Called Paradise" and "Treason" are among her major works.

Svoboda claims to have a specific agenda in mind when she writes her novels and poetry. 

"The rest of the world is a major interest; the relationship we have with it is very important, so I try to shed light on that," Svoboda said. 

Currently Svoboda is working on a Chamber opera called "Wet" and another novel.

This article first appeared in The Flat Hat, Oct. 26, 2001.