Sunday, August 28, 2011

Somerville Writer Tracy Strauss: Gets By With A Little Help Of Her Cat

Somerville Writer Tracy Strauss: Gets By With A Little Help Of Her Cat

By Doug Holder

Even though Tracy Strauss no longer technically lives in Somerville, (she is just over the border in the Republic of Cambridge); she is at heart a Somerville writer. She is an accessible woman with an open face and no discernible literary affectations. She lived in the 'Ville for 5 years, won a Somerville Arts Council fellowship for her poetry, and she continues to pound the keys of her laptop at the Diesel Cafe in Davis Square. Her work has appeared in the LYRICAL SOMERVILLE in the The Somerville News, as well as Somerville's independent literary journal IBBETSON STREET. In regard to her use of the Diesel as a writer's retreat of sorts she told me for some reason the din of the cafe helps her writing, " Chris Castellani, the director of GRUB STREET in Boston writes there all the time too. Maybe it is something about the atmosphere in which all these writers are present writing and creating throughout the cafe. It spurs us on I guess," she said.

Strauss, who recently completed a 5 year teaching stint at Emerson College in Boston will be teaching Writing at the New England Conservatory this fall. She is an accomplished writer and has been published in such journal as Solstice, Briar Cliff Review and Drunken Boat, to name just a few. Strauss had a residency at the prestigious writers' colony BREAD LOAF as well at the NORMAN MAILER WRITER'S COLONY, and is currently working with the best selling literary agent Kent D. Wolf of Global Literary who is shopping her memoir: HANNAH GRACE: HOPE, HEALING & A RESCUE CAT that involves healing from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome with her real life rescue cat Hannah.

Strauss has been the victim of sexual abuse when she was much younger and a cat she brought home helped her heal. Strauss said: " Hannah had been traumatized in her past as well and was afraid of people. I was afraid of animals, especially dogs, so we both dealt with our issues through our relationship. "

I asked Strauss how hard was it for her to get an agent. As you would expect it ain't easy. She said: " I sent out 100 query letters. I networked at writers' conferences, I networked on Twitter, and on my blog. At one point I met Kaylie Jones (the daughter of James Jones " From Here to Eternity") and she helped me get the manuscript in shape to be marketed."

Although Strauss is concentrating on memoir writing she loves writing poetry. She finds it a great way to express herself. "It is a foundation for my prose," she reflected. "Poetry has a musicality to it and so should all writing to some extent."

Like many Somerville area writers Strauss is a hustler: teaching, writing, giving readings, her fingers dancing on the keyboard at the Diesel, and loving every minute of love it. I always say if you have passion for what you do--you are living a charmed life indeed.

From Here

I am able

to overlook

the track

where the

people run

in circles as

I have done so

many times


I rest, I breathe deeply

aware my knees have unshut

I sit on the

metal bleachers

high above


for a moment my eyes

my mind transcends

I look out

beyond the rooted trees,

the American flag half-staff

tied to its hard silver pole

the chaotic city, my life’s upset

all so distant, all so close

my fingers fit between

each other, my knuckles

spread, I am able to

bend without breaking

my tightened frightened

cramped hands, open myself

as much as is possible

to this world given my body

and spirit’s painful past

my elbows slowly, shyly

show their pale, naked selves

my arms stretch forward, up

I reach for the sky –

the clouds are like closed eyelids

the lashes spilling streaks of light.

trace elements # 52 & # 830:
"By associating with a cat, one only risks becoming richer." - Colette

"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."
- Anatole France


  1. Thanks for news about Tracy!

  2. I loved learning more about you, Tracy - and all the prestigious conferences you've attended, as well as your publication credits and teaching experience. I can't wait until your memoir is picked up by a publisher! You're an amazing role model, and you deserve publishing success. I loved your poem, too.

  3. Jodi F.6:51 PM

    Love the poem! I hope Hannah Grace (the book) finds a good home, like Hannah the cat did!

  4. Thanks Mim, Melissa, and Jodi for your wonderful comments! And to the Boston Area Small Press & Poetry Scene/Doug Holder, for celebrating my work.