Lake Norman & Mooresville

Artist branches out from art to writing

Author, artist, poet and teacher Gilda Morina Syverson has exhibited her art all over the world, and her writing has been published in the United States and Canada.

Syverson, who lives in the Antiquity neighborhood in Cornelius, earned her master’s of fine arts degree from Southern Illinois University. She said that when doing her schoolwork, “the writing was a breeze. It took me only two years” to finish her degree.”

Because of her degree in fine arts, Syverson started her teaching career as an artist, but because of her other natural gift, as a writer, she now teaches memoir classes and workshops.

Syverson’s latest creative work, a Novello Literary Award Finalist, is her book, “My Father’s Daughter, From Rome to Sicily.” The idea for the book started when Syverson and her husband traveled with her elderly parents to Italy. “I never imagined in a million years I’d go there,” she said. Her parents had left Italy decades before.

“When I came back from Italy, all that was on my mind was the trip. I went to a writer’s group, brought in essays and poems I’d written, and all I could think about was I had to get this story down. I had no intention of publishing.”

“The title came in a strange way,” Syverson said. “I knew the subtitle, but I had no title.”

“I was having a discussion with my mother about Dad’s health care, giving advice about what she should do. My mom was not taking my advice and I said, ‘Mom, I am my father’s daughter.’ Mom said, ‘That’s a good name for your book.’ I sent the title to the publisher. Got a response back in big letters ‘SOLD’.”

In 2009, when her father read the book, he said to Syverson, “Now go get the thing published.”

When writing her book, “I wrote how I felt. I tell my students, ‘Just write it, then you deal with it.’”

She has taught in the creative arts for longer than 35 years and teaches memoir classes and workshops for Queens University of Charlotte, The Warehouse Performing Arts Center in Cornelius, and other locations.

Although Syverson has “to do book tours for the publishing company (Pegasus Books), I cannot give up my teaching. I love to help people make art out of (writing) their stories. So I arranged the classes I teach to still do the book tours.”

“It’s all connected, the writing and teaching. It becomes life’s purpose.”