By Jessica Trippe
Following the release of her book “Fooling Around with Shakespeare,” author and Pensters member, Glenda Richmond Slater graciously agreed to sit down for an interview. The visit began with a good measure of Southern hospitality, a kettle on the stove and a pair of cozy green armchairs. While we waited for tea, Glenda revealed the initial inspiration for her book came from a Pensters monthly writing prompt. Still somewhat new to the group, she decided not to submit the piece because “I thought it was a kind of odd thing and I wasn’t sure how they would feel about it.”
Later, when she shared the poem privately, Sue Brannon Walker of Negative Capability Press encouraged her to write more and have the collection published. Several of the poems took shape quickly, but the process wasn’t without its challenges. Slater recalled, “Sometimes I’d write a whole poem and think, ‘that’s not the way I want to go with this.’ It’s the first thing I’d ever done where I would take two or three different approaches before I found the right way to go.”
Finalizing the text was just the first part of the publishing process. To complete her vision for the book Glenda also needed to find an illustrator. After talking to a few artists, she decided to make an announcement during a P.E.O. meeting. The organization, which helps women achieve their educational goals, proved to be the perfect setting when artist Dale Goss Mozley responded to the invitation.
“I didn’t tell her a lot. I just said, I think they need to be light and whimsical maybe just sketches, but do what you think,” Slater recalled. Mozley took it upon herself to research historical dress of the period. As an artist, she felt it was important to have all the right details. Those added touches took the project to another level. Looking back on the experience, Glenda stated: “I feel like I lucked out with Dale.”
Though she’d always written for work and enjoyed writing and performing skits and song parodies throughout the years, Slater didn’t initially set out to be a creative writer. After completing her Bachelors in English and earning a Masters Degree in Speech and Hearing Disorders at the University of Alabama, she worked as a speech therapist and taught speech communication at various universities. At age fifty, she earned a Ph.D. in Speech-Language Pathology.
It was while living in Michigan that she began writing some poetry, mostly light verse. Her husband Carl always encouraged her to write a book but “It took me a little while to get around to that,” Glenda acknowledged with a smile. With that goal completed Slater has other plans for the future including a middle-grade book that she has almost finished and a collection of poems inspired by fruits and vegetables that she intends to turn into a poetic cookbook.
Fooling Around with Shakespeare is available on Amazon.