Let’s take a moment to break for poetry

Sorry for the sparse posts in recent weeks. Things have been a little crazy ’round here. I took a trip up to the Bay area to see my sister, came home and got a burn on my dominant hand that was serious enough to send me to the ER in the back of an ambulance (I hope to share a personal essay with my readers about that experience soon). Thank G-d, I’m now on the mend and in the midst of several deadlines.

But just to let y’all know I haven’t forgotten you, I’m going to share a piece of poetry I wrote while waiting for my sister to pick me up at the train station in San Jose. Continue reading

Exploring other media to conquer writer’s block

So, earlier this week, I had a case of the blahs. I suppose I didn’t technically have writer’s block–the problem was more that I didn’t want to do anything, not that I couldn’t write–but the results were the same.

My muddle

My best friend phoned. I told her my sad story. I didn’t want to write. I felt uncreative and just foggy in the head. She suggested I do something different, maybe go for a walk. Just don’t even try to write. Reboot.

The way out

For some reason, I’ve been getting back into art gradually over the last year. As a child and teen, I loved art, but like many people quit when I realized my mediocrity.

poem collage

My collage poem.

I’ve been taking a lot of photos lately, even framing them and displaying them in my home. I’ve done a bit of sketching, as well, although that tends to send me back to a place where all I see is my lack of skill instead of getting pleasure from exercising what skill I have.

Anyway, after my phone call, I was itching to make a collage. I didn’t give into the itch right away, but as my kids settled in for homework this evening, I grabbed a couple magazines and a pair of scissors.  Continue reading

Need a little poetry this holiday season?

Can’t get enough Thanksgivukkah craziness? Tablet just put out poetry inspired by the crazy Chanukah/Thanksgiving mashup. To check it out, click here.

Here’s my own contribution:

What shall we do with
Our brand-new menurkey
The other seven days?

Is poetry as we know it dead? Goldsmith speculates the “meme machine” has taken over.

This week, The New Yorker book blog published a post by Kenneth Goldsmith about the proliferation of rather un-poetic  “poetry” spreading across the internet. He writes:

[T]he Canadian media scholar Darren Wershler…has been making some unexpected connections between meme culture and contemporary poetry. “These artifacts,” Wershler claims, “aren’t conceived of as poems; they aren’t produced by people who identify as poets; they circulate promiscuously, sometimes under anonymous conditions; and they aren’t encountered by interpretive communities that identify them as literary.”

…It’s not uncommon to see blogs that recount someone’s every sneeze since 2007, or of a man who shoots exactly one second of video every day and strings the clips together in time-lapsed mashups. Continue reading

Helping out the illustrator, even when you don’t know who they are yet

I’ve been working on a new picture book manuscript, my first one in a while. It’s a poem that came out of  experiences with my kids and with others’ and the troubles they face.

I put it away for a couple days, pulling it out again this morning. Now that I’ve decided it’s a picture book, I’m revising it with an eye to the requirements of the format.

O the horror! It’s unillustrateable!

(Yes, I just made that word up.)

What do I mean?  Continue reading

My Two Special Grandmothers

This is a little poem I wrote in honor of my mother and mother-in-law. It’s only loosely based on reality, but my mother is really from Baltimore, and my mother-in-law really is from Israel (born in Alexandria, Egypt). I felt it was important to tell the story of a little kid who is partly Ashkenazi and partly Sephardi, because so many families are now “mixed” like that. Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!

Savta moved here from Israel.

Bubbe grew up in Baltimore.

Both of them now live in the United States.

When I visit, Savta says, “Mami, you are chamood!”

Bubbe calls me zees.

I love to visit them both.

On the phone before the Sabbath, Savta says, “Shabbat shalom!’

Bubbe wishes me, “a gut shabbes.”

Both of them pray that I grow up well after they say the brachah on their candles.

On Rosh Hashanah, Savta rushes to the beit kanesset.

Bubbe runs to shul.

Both of them sit quietly with me to hear the shofar.

In the fall, Savta drapes colorful rugs in her sukkah.

Bubbe hangs Indian corn from the schach.

Both of them string up the decorations I made in school.

Savta rolls cotton into wicks and pours olive oil into Saaba’s Chanukah lamps.

Bubbe places tiny wax candles into Zeyde’s menorah.Both of them set the Chanukiahs in front of the window for everyone to see.

On Purim, Savta sends me baklava and halva in my shalach manot.

Bubbe floats kreplach in my soup.

Both of them remind me to use my gragger when I hear “Haman”.

Savta checks her rice before Pesach.

Bubbe tosses hers into a sealed cupboard.

Both of them crunch through their matzah at the seder.

While I sit on her lap, Savta tells me about when she was a girl in Egypt.

Bubbe tells her bubbe‘s story of fleeing Russia in the night.

Both of them are happy to live in a free country.

My two special grandmothers are as different as can be.

They came from different places with different history.

But together they helped to make one special ME!