photograph by Cat Gwynn

Why write about the Souplantation?

For a decade of my life, it was the place that was most home.


How so?

Until my parents divorced, my childhood was idyllic. Home was literally a big house on a hill, full of home cooked meals, family, pets, and friends. No matter what was difficult or confusing outside of those walls, there was nothing but love and acceptance within them. After the divorce, every safe physical place was taken away. We moved, changed school districts, changed churches, and we couldn’t even keep our dog. There was no safety anymore, just chaos. Three years later I applied at the Souplantation.


And why does a physical place matter so much?

We are as much our body as we are our mind. Our physical bodies need a place to be. We need a place to cry, to hug, to receive feedback. The Souplantation was a static, reliably unchanging place amidst the chaos that ages 16-26 brings with it. There was a door to enter. Places to sit. A uniform to wear. Tasks assigned to be accomplished. I undeniably belonged. As other things changed and challenged me, I always knew I could bus a table, clean a sneezeguard, or heat up some pasta. And I could do that well.


But you worked at different locations, right?

Yes, and there were differences, but there were so many similarities that it remained incredibly safe. The same register. The same yellow wedge sponges. The same food. Even the same archetypal characters in the form of employees.


How does it feel for this collection to be out?

To get all of those thoughts and experiences down on paper, continue to reflect on them and revise them, then have other people read them was an experience in itself. I relived so many experiences and when I perform the pieces, I relive them once again. It’s kind of haunting. I’m happy to have the stories out and to revisit them, but I’m most happy to be removed from those experiences. I like who I am today and where I am in life so much more. I love my husband, our daughter, our dog. I like being so much more secure than I was. I look back on that girl who worked at the Souplantation, and I feel bad for her. She was so scared. All the time.


So, you call this a memoir. Is it all true?

True is a funny term, isn’t it? I actually do believe in an objective reality, but this collection isn’t it. The vignettes all come from something that happened, I heard about, or are representative of the life I had while employed at the Souplantation. The overarching narrative of how I grew and changed is certainly the most true about it. I changed the name and details of the people I am talking about in the collection, because I figure many people don’t want to be called out for things they said or did decades ago. Especially not what I think they said or did.


But you do write true stuff, right?

I have a number of academic articles and a couple of academic books, yes. But, most of my published work is poetry, flash fiction, or creative nonfiction. I teach communication and I blog about authenticity. Truth is incredibly important to me. Authenticity, however is not limited to objective reality in my estimation. It is also our interpretation of that reality.


Where can we find out more about you and when and where you will be performing?

Check out my blog. I will post dates as I get them. I appreciate everyone’s support!

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CLS FERGUSON, PhD is a communication professor who paints, sings, acts, models, produces independent films, and has earned awards for her academic research, published many academic articles, and two academic books.  Her portrayal of The Black Rose in Silence, which she also co-wrote and produced, earned her a best actress award and a best film award at the LA Neo Noir Festival. Her music video, Secrets & Lies recently earned accolades on the indie film circuit.  CLS has published poetry in Shangri-La Shack, Still Points Quarterly, PQLeer, Dirty Chai, Sheepshead Review, Drunk Monkeys, and other places. Her poetry collection, God Bless Paul is out on Rosedog Books, her co-authored chapbook, The Way We Were with JC Jones is out on Writing Knights Press, and her collection Soup Stories is out on Portage Press. She and her husband, Rich are raising their daughter, Evelyn and their Bernese Mountain Border Collie Mutt, Sadie in Alhambra, CA.

One response to “CLS Ferguson: The TNB Self-Interview”

  1. Mary Taylor says:

    It is interesting that you mentioned “the same archetypal characters in the form of employees” It is intriguing that the same kind of corporate culture would permeate through an organization at different locations so that different people of the same style would apply.

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