What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Greta Jaeger. I am from Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Is that where you are originally from as well?
I am from the outer suburbs of Minneapolis, but I have lived a few places on the west coast and made my way back to Minneapolis a number of years ago.
Very cool. Is all of your family there?
Most of them, yeah - yep.
How did you hear about SPACE?
So I came to know about SPACE through your lovely Executive Director, Emily. Emily and I grew up together and so we have a history of doing a lot of performing arts together - music theater, choir, speech - you name it. So it was really fun to watch things grow with SPACE and this spring it was just on my radar and I noticed that they were accepting applications for this season. And I had been - in the last couple of years I’ve been taking my writing a lot more seriously and it was really - it was perfect timing to - you know, how I was feeling about my work and the idea of coming up here for a week.
In terms of taking your writing more seriously, how has that journey been for you?
So I’ve always done writing just on my own as a way of flushing out ideas and something that I’ve always enjoyed.
Has it always been particularly poetry, or a variety of forms?
It’s always been pretty free form and I think I like calling it poetry because to me poetry does not have to fit into a form. Of course, it definitely can. But that’s sort of my style in life and in writing - is sort of just to do it how it feels good to me. So - I found poetry to be a really approachable form, so yeah - it’s just very very free - free form, the kind of stuff I do. But yeah, the bulk of the work that I’m working on and adding to here at SPACE is a body of work that I started working on two years ago. And I really started focusing a lot more on my writing during the end of my masters program. That program was a really unique and special program in women and world religion - formally women’s spirituality, philosophy and religion program at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. And the amazing part of that program was the room it had for us to focus on our own journey, our own creative path. And I wasn’t necessarily focusing on my writing when I went into that program, but through a number of courses that highlighted a lot of women’s writing and women’s voices, I just got back into doing my own writing - and hit a chord.
Nice! So you’ve lived in a bunch of different places and now you’re currently writing at SPACE. Does the environment you’re in at all change anything in terms of how you write, in terms of where you write or in terms of your process?
Yeah definitely - oh, I definitely go off of my environment and my writing is very - I mean if I sit down and plan to write, I will write, but a lot of my spurts come at random times in my day, in my week - even over the course of multiple years. So - you know - it certainly changes depending on where I am. The themes that I work with definitely change.
Oh, interesting! In what way?
Sometimes I move to write - my social justice, kind of activist background moves me to write in a bit more of a provocative, kind of more of a loud voice - if you will. And the calm, relaxed part of me comes out at different times and that moves me to write in a different way that’s a lot more intimate and I guess subtle and gentle. So it’s interesting when I have - in the past day in a half I’ve been kind of taking an inventory of the work that I have right now. And I’ve been spending some time identifying common themes - and even - I think it’s really important to go back and read your own work over and over again, obviously - and it’s amazing what you experience when you leave it alone for a while and then come back to it. It’s important to me that the work has some common feel, I think. And as a reader, I like to read people’s work where I feel attached to it, and I feel like I’m being welcomed into the writing, and I kind of - I expect surprises, but I also enjoy reading things where I know a little bit about what I’m about to get myself into.
Definitely - well it’s like the idea of someone kind of teaching you how to experience this piece of work in a way that is - not exactly holding your hand, but that you’re being welcomed in.
Right, and I think it’s important to know, you know - am I going to be - am I about to read a piece of work about body image? Then I’m really expecting probably a lot of personal confession - that kind of style of narrative. And then a big influence of mine is the lovely and well-known poet, Mary Oliver. When you open up a book of her work, you know what you’re going to get - you’re going to get nature-based writing and I’d argue a little bit cosmological - like “what is our purpose here” - that kind of a theme. So - yeah! It’s important to me to kinda ask myself those questions about my own writing.
That makes total sense. In that vein, do you have any favorite poets right now? That you like to read?
Right now - I mean, I’m really inspired by autobiographical writing and that’s where most of my own themes come from. So, I like memoir style and I just find that that is very enjoyable. I like hearing people telling their own stories in their own voice. So I guess any variety of those kind of themes are certainly something I’m into right now.
Are there places that you’re really liking to write - or are there places around the farm that particularly strike you?
Mhhm - I mean I actually spend quite a bit of time in this very room - in the dining hall. There’s something about a huge table that I feel really - it’s really approachable to me, cuz I feel like I can just spread things out?
Yeah! And you can see everything.
Yeah - exactly. And I’ve spent a bit of time outside - it’s really lovely. I took a walk today and I laid on the dock and I just … floated.
It’s so peaceful.
Yeah, and I think I just needed a little time to lay there and think and kinda let myself go a little bit. So that was lovely. And actually I’ve spent a bit of time writing in my room and it just feels like - they’re so nice. It reminds me of this image I have of writers of long ago and -
Especially in your room, because it has that fold down desk - and your room is so nice, because you get the sunlight and you have a lovely view of the ducks and the pond.
As soon as I walked in I thought - it’s so lovely and sparse - but it’s got a lot of energy, it’s got a lot of energy for sure.
What is your writing process usually like at home?
I have a sporadic writing routine. I tend to do it when I have - I definitely have to carve out time for it and it’s usually in the evening or on Sundays, which are my precious day off usually during the week. So as important as I know it is to create a schedule in a way - to give yourself time - I think, especially people who may spend their time doing one thing as a job or have multiple, different creative avenues that they’re working with - it is really important to try to find room for all of them.
What do you do to fill your days in Minneapolis?
During the week I have a job where I coordinate travel for a technology company in downtown Minneapolis. It’s a really great group of people, so I like spending my day there. And then I work as well throughout the year at a museum called the American Swedish Institute - which is amazing - where I get to do a lot of hand craft workshops. So I assist with a lot of the workshops for kids and families. So that season is starting up again, and I’m really excited.
Oh! Can you give examples of what kind of handcrafts you do?
Yes. So during the holiday season we offer – every weekend there’s a craft offered. So one of them is - I mean the crafts that we use for the weekends - they have to be something that people can pop in and pop out, all age groups. So we do a lot of paper art - so like woven heart ornaments or handmade cards and things like that. We do some really sweet beaded heart - kind of like 3D ornaments as well. And even something as seemingly simple as paper snowflakes - people get really into. And I love it because there will be a two year old sitting next to an eighty year old and they’re both equally excited and involved. It’s very fun.
Yeah that sounds absolutely delightful! Okay, so here’s a question I have been severely lax with in my interviews: What farm animal would you be, and why?
Oh! What farm animal … Ummm…
I know. It’s a tough one. We went around trying to do vegetables the other day - vegetables are also very hard to decide.
Yeah - Vegetables I think I would have a fun time thinking about. I feel like I’d want to be a string bean and just be like … dangling and waving around. Hmm well it’s so funny, because I’m not really a cat person, but my first instinct was it would be kind of fun to be a cat, because I just feel like they can do whatever they want, and eat little mouse treats whenever they want.
That’s true. And they can like, lay in the sun - and they also have the agency to go explore. Whereas a lot of farm animals just like … stand there.
Yeah - and I think I would be honored to be an animal with a lot of purpose as well - like a cow or - you know, I feel like that would be an honor as well.
Well do you have any parting thoughts as you continue on your journey through SPACE this week?
Final thoughts … umm I mean I’m just feeling really good about being here. I think it’s really an important combination of - the connection between the natural world and our human creative juices, because I think the hard part about our creative process is that it does get - it’s equally influenced and interrupted by our wild lives, especially if we live in a big city. And I think some people probably even come here without maybe really even realizing how much they needed it - even though that’s kind of the whole idea. But I’m already a fan and I look forward to the week ahead.
Interviewed by Jen Fingal.