Literary Offerings into the World | June 2017 Report

Pretty much a month of rejections…

Poetry: 0 submissions, 0 acceptances, 1 rejection (Foundry).

Fiction: 0 submissions, 0 acceptances, 0 rejections.

Creative Nonfiction: 1 submission (Passager), 1 acceptance (Jewish Literary Journal), 7 rejections (Lascaux Review, J Journal, Front Porch, Agni, Malahat Review, Salmagundi, New England Review), but I am still hopeful! I’m about to begin revisions on another piece and signed up for a four-week Iota Conference online course for the fall.

Other June 2017 activities: I attended the Highlights Foundation Novels in Verse Workshop, presented and launched new website and database at the annual Association of Jewish Libraries conference in New York City. Also completed an article on James Fenimore Cooper for Cobblestone Magazine.

Coming up in July 2017: I joined Camp Nanowrimo to generate the first full draft of a YA biography. I already had three chapters in my book proposal, so six more to go! By July 31, I’ll have something. This month I’ll also be working on an article and activities for a Scholastic magazine, a new client for me.

Question 4U: What has your activity been like?

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Now Available! Chicken Fat, a New Poetry Chapbook by Barbara Krasner

Note from Barbara: I really hope you’ll check out my book. The poems are personal. The people on the cover? My grandmother, Rose Entel Perlman, an immigrant from Poland, my mother, Lillian Perlman Krasner, and I think that’s my twin sister, Andrea, visible in the stroller. The photo was taken in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, where my grandparents lived and my mother was born and raised.

To pre-order your copy, click here>>>

Chicken Fat


by Barbara Krasner



Barbara Krasner’s collection of poems, Chicken Fat, is rich and soulful, redemptive, and full of the soothing spice that makes poetry come alive. She writes about heritage, family, the Jewish experience and identity in a way that is fresh and robust. Her poetry is warm, accessible, and utterly singular in its ability to put you right into the middle of the simmer and let you feel all the spice and ‘fat’ of the human experience. There is a love in these poems that is tangible. She has mastered the art of the ‘living language’—an ability to take very personal moments, the small intimate details of a life, and make them speak to a universal scaffold of truths that anyone can acknowledge. This book is called Chicken Fat but there is nothing excessive here, just the rich and full flavor of poetic voice that is beautifully rendered.

–Matthew Lippman, author of Salami Jew and The New Year of Yellow

In Chicken FatBarbara Krasner displays a gift for linking moving memories of her New Jersey Jewish childhood and life with the collective memories of her parents’ and grandparents’ history of the Jewish ghettos of Eastern Europe. Krasner’s narrative poems contain both directness and tenderness as she details family and personal loss as well as a tenacious endurance.  She demonstrates a rare gift of describing current and traditional Jewish food (kishka, gribenes, lungen stew) in a way that is not only tantalizes but also provides an ethnic background of this endangered cuisine.  Krasner’s Chicken Fat is a powerful book of poems that transcends her personal story and connects to her readers with a compelling immediacy.

–Laura Boss, author of The Best Lover ( New York Quarterly, 2017) and Editor, Lips

To pre-order your copy, click here>>>


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 8 Comments Goes Live | Online Searchable Database of Children’s Holocaust Literature

Yesterday at Hebrew Union College in New York City at the annual conference of the Association of Jewish Libraries, I announced and demonstrated the debut of, a new website featuring an online searchable database of children’s Holocaust literature published in the United States and Canada from 2002 forward (excluding self-published and educational titles).

The source for the database is the Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database.



The database includes fields for the following:

  • Title
  • Author/illustrator
  • Place, date, and name of publisher
  • Age group
  • Genre
  • Geographic scope
  • Holocaust category (e.g., occupation, flight, resistance, Jewish resistance, concentration camps, recovery, return)

The database also includes a synopsis, Sydney Taylor and National Jewish Book awards, and links to online reviews.

Who can benefit from this site?

The site and database provide information that can be helpful to the following audiences:

  • Educators
  • Librarians
  • Editors/Publishers
  • Students
  • Writers/authors
  • Scholars

The site can be used to understand, for example, how many and which books have been published for children that deal with China or the number and which titles deal with concentration camps. But the site can also be used to produce data on publishing trends. For instance, 2009 was a banner year, perhaps inspired by the commemoration of Kristallnacht. Other patterns at a simplistic level include the takeover of teen/YA as a genre over older readers since 2010 and the domination of Germany, Poland, and the United States as the settings. There is opportunity, too, to ramp up the publication of titles dealing with the aftermath of the Holocaust.

I invite all of you to check out the website and let me know your thoughts through the comment section.

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Literary Offerings into the World | May 2017 Report

The spring semester is now over and I can return to writing!

Poetry: 2 submissions (Foundry and Cimarron Review), and 3 rejections to report (Ilanot Review, Green Mountains Review, Manhattanville Review).

Fiction: Continuing work on my Prague story. Rejection of a flash fiction piece by Copperfield Review.

Creative Nonfiction: I am actively sending out five essays. In May I submitted to the following: Punctuate, Front Porch, Origins, Malahat Review, Threepenny Review, The Sun, Amaranth Review, Yemassee Review, The Puritan, Paris Review, Lascaux Review, American Scholar, Lilith, Gettysburg Review, Missouri Review,  New England Review, and Jewish Literary Journal. That’s 17 subs in total. But now that the semester has ended, many journals have temporarily closed until the end of summer or start of the fall semester. Two fast rejections came from Threepenny Review and The Sun.

My pedagogy piece, “Stick Figures in Action: Teaching Revision through Storyboarding,” has just been published by Whale Road Review.

Academic: Acceptance of my first peer-reviewed journal article, “No Stone Unturned: Grove Street’s Jewish Cemetery,” in New Jersey Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal. The article is slated for Summer 2017 publication. This cemetery is where my great-grandparents are buried and was the subject of my final project in my graduate Historical Preservation class in Fall 2015.

Picture Books: I need to work on revisions for at least two mss., but I’ve not done anything.

Other news: I’ve been accepted into the National Yiddish Book Center’s Tent Program for Jewish Children’s Writers in August in Amherst, Massachusetts. I’ll be workshopping a middle-grade something, either a biography or historical novel in verse.

Upcoming June 2017 activities: Highlights Novels in Verse Workshop, presentation about Holocaust kidlit (and the debut of my new website and database) at the annual Association of Jewish Libraries conference.

Question 4U: What has your activity been like?

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Commemorating the Tragedy of the MS St. Louis, 1939

Tablet Magazine recently reported that Jewish communities throughout the United States plan to hold vigils to commemorate the MS St. Louis today, June 6.

On this day in 1939, the luxury liner’s captain, Gustav Schroeder, received orders from his superiors at the Hamburg-Amerika shipping line to return with his nearly 1,000 German-Jewish refugee passengers to Germany. Since May 27, the St. Louis had been making headlines. After anchoring at its destination in Havana harbor, its passengers were not allowed to disembark. Distress messages were sent all over the world from the radio room. No one seemed to want to help this group of refugees, not even the United States as recorded conversations between Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau and Secretary of State Cordell Hull revealed.

Hans Fisher, one of the surviving passengers I interviewed in 2010, thought for sure that President Roosevelt would take care of them. He thought this when Cuban police in motorboats escorted the ship back into international waters and he and his friend, Wolfie, returned to their checkers game on deck. He thought this when his father, who had arrived earlier in Havana, was prohibited from visiting his family on board. He could only wave to them from a skiff.

Through the efforts of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, safe haven for the passengers was negotiated with four countries: Belgium, the Netherlands, France, and Great Britain. For three-quarters of the passengers, their freedom was short-lived as Nazi Germany occupied the countries that accepted them. Martin Goldsmith, for example, wrote a stunning memoir about his search to uncover the fate of his grandfather and uncle who had been aboard.

Refugees continue to struggle as the news reminds us daily. As Tablet reports, HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) urged Jewish communities to show solidarity with refugees by staging vigils. As one survivor told me, “We have learned that we cannot stand by idly and watch people being bullied, harassed, and punished for no reason.”

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Jewish Traveler’s Notebook | Gomez Mill House, Marlboro, NY

This post debuts a new series and ad hoc feature, the Jewish Traveler’s Notebook. From time to time, I’ll share my experiences at museums and other spots of Jewish interest.

Since reading Deborah Prinz’s On the Chocolate Trail (Jewish Lights, 2012), I’ve wanted to visit the Gomez Mill House, North America’s oldest Jewish dwelling, about 60 miles north of Manhattan in the Newburgh area. The building was established in 1714 by Luis Moses Gomez, who came to New York in 1703. He received an Act of Denization from Queen Anne of England two years later, which granted him certain rights to conduct business and live within the Colonies without giving an oath of allegiance to the Church of England. He became a leading businessman in New York, led the drive to found the Mill House Synagogue (the first synagogue of Shearith Israel), and established this trading post along the Hudson on 6500 acres of land. He and his family never lived there, although he did stay overnight. The Gomez family remained in possession until 1772.

Five other families—those of patriot Wolfert Ackert, gentleman farmer Edward Armstrong, artisan Dard Hunter, social activist Martha Gruening, and preservationist Mildred Starin—made their homes in this dwelling and expanded it until the Gomez Foundation purchased Mill House in 1984.

Items of Jewish interest within the house/museum include a handwritten version of Emma Lazarus’s “The New Colossus,” a grandfather clocked that once belonged to her great-grandfather, merchant and patriot Simon Nathan, Gomez’s Act of Denization document, a 1930s Sephardic genealogy, and a chanukkiah.

The Gomez family, according to Prinz, brought chocolate manufacturing to the New World from Bayonne, France (after being forced out of Spain by the Inquisition). But no chocolate was made at the Mill House. Instead, that was done in lower Manhattan.

The tour, which lasts about 90 minutes, starts with a brief video that highlights the evolution of the property. A friendly and knowledgeable tour guide then leads the group through each room of the house. The kitchen remains colonial if you can overlook the modern sink, stove/oven, and refrigerator.

The museum offers visitors glimpses into a variety of time periods based on who owned the house. Upstairs rooms chronicle the Armstrongs and Martha Gruening.

Outdoors, two of the grist mill wheels have been embedded in the walkway and the mill building stands alone. The grounds are beautiful and bucolic and the tour is worth the trip.

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Author’s Notebook | The Borscht Belt: Revisiting the Remains of America’s Jewish Vacationland by Marisa Scheinfeld

I came across mention of The Borscht Belt: Revisiting the Remains of America’s Jewish Vacationland (Cornell University Press, 2017) on the website of the American Historical Association. Since my family spent numerous summers at hotels there that included the Granit, the Concord, the Fallsview and Nevele, and the Homowack, I had to reach out to photographer and author Marisa Scheinfeld. Here is the result of our interview:

Guest room, Tamarack Lodge
Courtesy Marisa Scheinfeld

The Whole Megillah (TWM): What drew you to document the Borscht Belt visually?
Marisa Scheinfeld (MS): I received some advice from a mentor who told me to “shoot what I know.” Those four words lit the fire inside of me that caused me to consider my roots, my hometown, and its history. This led into the beginning of the project where I used a technique called Re-photography, essentially a “now” and “then” view of the hotels and bungalows made by using a found postcard and going back to the same location and re-making the image again, with a time lapse in between the two images. I did this many times over and the technique acted like a treasure map of sorts—leading me to a specific hotel or bungalow site, but as I journeyed to them, I began to see scenes that caused me to deviate from the re-photographic project and make alternate photographs. It was then that the series evolved—and I realized there was much more of a story than the one I originally set out to tell.

Coffee shop, Grossinger’s
Courtesy Marisa Scheinfeld

TWM: What was your greatest challenge in taking these photos and assembling the book?
MS: I worked on this for over 5 years and amassed many photographs in the process, all made on film. A huge challenge was editing. The book has 129 photographs and I had to let go of many on the “cutting room floor.” Other challenges arose during the process of making the images—and those were the tenuous nature of these hotels and bungalow colonies, essentially ruins, including their instability, what I might encounter, whom I might encounter, getting permission (which was always varied and depended on a lot of forged connections, new connections, strangers, locals, and friends/family to help me out. In addition, I learned quickly, and early in the project that I could not do this alone. While I made every single photograph alone, I always needed someone to accompany me on the shoots because of the various situations, people, etc, I might have come across.

Bowling alley, Homowack Lodge
Courtesy Marisa Scheinfeld

TWM: What was your greatest satisfaction?
MS: Accomplishing what I set out to do from the start—make and publish a book of these photographs.

TWM: Is there anything you wish you’d done differently?
MS: Not really, but there are about three images in particular that I wished I would have not cut from the book. If we ever do a reprint, they are going in.

TWM: Will these photos show in a gallery or exhibition?
MS: Curated by Yeshiva University Museum and myself, The Borscht Belt: Revisiting the Remains of America’s Jewish Vacationland is available as a traveling exhibition. The exhibition is ready to install and exists of thirty-two (25” x 35” in size) custom framed images including a selection of rephotographic (now and then) diptych pieces and a large selection of Borscht Belt ephemera for display in a case. Ephemera items consist of various 2-D and 3-D objects from my own collection and include items such as postcards, brochures, menus, original photographs, ashtrays, photo viewers, pens, clothing items, and even soap. The exhibition is accompanied by three main text panels, docent materials and programming options. Overall, the exhibition can be easily tailored to each venue’s vision, size constraints, along with the curator or director’s selection. The exhibition has been on view at the Center for Jewish History, the Yiddish Book Center, the Gershman Y, and I am currently amid exhibition plans with the New York State Museum. In addition, all photographs from the series are for sale and are available in multiple sizes.



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