Jeri Theriault of South Portland, was born and raised in Waterville, a mill town perched on the Kennebec, where she attended Sacred Heart School with other descendants of the French-Canadian millworkers who settled in the area. Her father was a barber, her mother a housewife and a bookkeeper.
She studied English and classics at Colby, earned an MA in Instructional Leadership from USM and an MFA from Vermont College. She taught at Deering and South Portland High Schools for twenty years. A 1998-99 Fulbright Teacher Exchange brought her to Gymnasium Arabska in Prague. Then, in 2002 she became Chair of the English Department at The International School of Prague, a position she held for six years.
Jeri’s still writing about those Prague years, but Maine—her childhood and French Catholic heritage—form the most consistent threads in her writing. Her characters, grandmother and mother, girl cousins and aunts, are sometimes augmented by personae like Barbie or Demeter or Coco Chanel.
The Maine Arts Commission Fellowship will fund traveling, research and residencies to support her latest project whose working title is “Cemetery Stories,” inspired by regular walks in Mount Pleasant and Bay View Cemeteries near her South Portland home. Her plan includes visits to several Maine graveyards, including Saint Francis Catholic Cemetery in Waterville as well as pilgrimages to Quebec and Nova Scotia to find the graves of ancestors.
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