Tina Parker

An affinity for the spooky

Date of Post: 
Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Part 2 in my series chronicling the path to my second collection of poems around women and mental health goes back to my girlhood love of all things spooky. I was around 8 years old the year a haunted house opened for business in the historic Bristol Train Station. I invited my best friend along, but it occurs to me now that I didn’t stay by her side. She grew so frightened that a stranger had mercy and hauled her out of there; I stayed to continue the haunted tour.


I have always loved scary things. From the time I was a girl, I haven’t been afraid to look horror right in the eye. Probably it’s more than that---from the time I was little the writer in me wanted to peel back the layers and see how things work, to get into the metaphorical skin of whatever character, no matter how grotesque.


My love of scary things has a lot to do with where I grew up. In the South, in the Southern Baptist Church. Oddly enough, the church I grew up in is right next to that train station. The first stories I heard had some real (or surreal?!) characters—people raised from the dead, turned to salt, walking on water. I experienced the tension between reality and the supernatural from a very young age. I continue to be comfortable with the creepy and hungry for the unexplainable.


After the release of my book Mother May I, my writing turned more fully toward this long-time interest. I became interested in ways women are labeled as “other” for any perceived difference. I read up on witches, urban legends (Bloody Mary!), and women labeled as insane and committed to asylums.


Hence, my project to write a collection of poems on women and mental health began. This is part 2 in my series chronicling that writing journey. Next time I’ll touch on how living the domestic life of a stay-at-home mom made my imagination run wild with domestic terrors.