On April 5th, 2022 the Club welcomed a marvelous guest speaker, Teresa Wong. She is the author of the graphic memoir Dear Scarlet: The Story of My Postpartum Depression, a finalist for The City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize and longlisted for CBC Canada Reads 2020. Her comics have appeared in The Believer, The New Yorker and Event Magazine. She teaches memoir and comics at Gotham Writers Workshop, and is the 2021–22 Canadian Writer-in-Residence at the University of Calgary. Read more at: https://www.byteresawong.com.
The author gave an beautiful and engaging illustrated reading from her pandemic narrative #tantrumseries. This narrative started on Instagram, and will be part of the anthology Good Moms on Paper, which presents the challenges and rewards of being a mom while authoring creative works. During the early days of the Covid 19 pandemic, she recorded her 4 year old son’s morning tantrums with photo’s and watercolours, which she then posted. In total, 20 watercolour portraits of her son were completed – visit her Tumbler blog or search #tantrumseries on Instagram to view these lovely images and more.
While recording these moments, she pondered her motivation: Was she recording these moments for herself, for others, for her son in the future? Was this an intrusion into her son’s privacy? Was her motivation to present a more realistic portrait of toddler parenting and to show it can be funny? Or was she looking for affirmation or “likes”? The series ended when her son told her “stop taking my picture”. Two years later, he sometimes scrolls through the pictures and recognizes himself. Her concluding comment on #tantrumseries was that the creative work was “fully alive and fully itself, like a child in my care”.
The author was going through a crisis herself at the time of the #tantrumseries, and found she could relate to her son’s frustration and feeling of helplessness. In early 2020, she was trying to get Dear Scarlet into the world, along with the daily work of parenting 3 children. To quote her: “mothers have guilt rather than the space and time to do creative work”.
Next, she presented Piano Lessons, short comic published by Believer magazine , illustrating her 10 years of piano lessons and what classical music means to her. To quote “music took me somewhere… elegant, refined, orderly”.
After the presentation, there were a number of questions from members about Ms. Wong’s development first as a writer and then as a graphic memoirist. Ms. Wong said that she was always a writer, but began painting after she had children. She described the graphic genre as more poetry than prose, bringing out ideas with phrases and imagery. Personally, I am a fan of graphic memoir, history and fiction and hope to read more from Teresa in the future.
Next week, member Helen T. will be presenting the works of Tash Aw. Interested in joining us? Click here: https://calgarywomensliteraryclub.com/join-