Mid-Week Field Notes–August 25, 2021

Some quick things:

  1. I’m in the second week of isolation to write at least part of my dissertation. About a third of it will go to my advisor and a mentor after Yom Kippur for review. The insights I’m gaining are just amazing. If you haven’t yet read the first children’s book about the Holocaust, written in Yiddish in 1938, published by a Yiddish press in New York in 1940, and only just translated into English in 2006, please read Emil and Karl by Yankev Glatshteyn.
  2. I’m planning more days of self-isolation over Labor Day weekend to work on the book proposal for my new novel in verse. As always, I’m leaning into Amherst Writers & Artists to write the sample poems, including sonnets, ghazals, and villanelles. I’ve devised a poetic strategy for narrating members of the German-American Bund and for campers at New Jersey’s Camp Nordland, run by an auxiliary organization of the Bund.
  3. Head’s up: The Mercer Holocaust, Genocide & Human Rights Education Center will be offering programs this fall on Holocaust Art as Resistance (Oct. 5, noon ET via Zoom), Part II of The History of Genocide in Cinema (Oct. 28, 6 pm ET via Zoom), Remembering Kristallnacht–a Memoir by Fred Behrendt (Nov. 10, 7 pm ET via Zoom), and Lemkin, UN Declaration of Human Rights and the Courts (Dec. 8, 7 pm ET via Zoom). More details to come!

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#52snapshots–Week 34

Last week I heard back from the National Archives through my Freedom of Information Act request: no documentation available about the detention of my great-grandparents Krasner at Ellis Island in May 1901. I did not write anything new or revise any #52snapshot essays. That will likely have to wait until the fall semester gets underway.

What I have been working on is my doctoral dissertation, a slow and painful process.

I have two Amherst Writers & Authors sessions this week. I’ll just follow the prompts and see what emerges. I’ve been writing poems for my new novel-in-verse’s book proposal, which my editor wants to see in September. More about that forthcoming in this week’s Mid-Week Fieldnotes.

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Mid-Week Field Notes–August 18, 2021

Some quick things:

  1. Copyedits on my bio in verse, Ethel’s Song: Ethel Rosenberg’s Life in Poems (Calkins Creek, Fall 2022) are now complete. Onward! I hope to be able to share the cover with you in the next few weeks.
  2. I am getting poetic inspiration from The Poet’s Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry by Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux and wrote a villanelle (one of my favorite forms) last night. Also reading Dana Gioia’s Studying with Miss Bishop and Theodore Roethke’s On Poetry and Craft.
  3. I’m also hard at work on my dissertation about children’s Holocaust books, as I vehemently disagree with Marjorie Ingall’s July 8 New York Times take on such books and I have the numbers to prove she’s wrong. For instance, seven hundred books were published about the Holocaust for children and young adults between 1952 and 2020. No more than 30 books were published in one year, not including self-published and educational series titles. That’s hardly market saturation.

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#52snapshots–Week 33

Last week I did some generative writing about the clothes I made during high school and after college. I started making field notes in Evernote to capture sewing-related word lists and a list of all the outfits I could remember.

I sent out my Avram Mendel essay to one publication. It looks like many literary journals will open up for submissions on September 1, so I’m going to hold off on sending out this essay and the one about Esther Toby until then.

Last week I also took my rough draft essay about my paternal great-grandfather, Morduch Krasner, through Throughlines. I found some hiding spots where I could delve more deeply, including how he, my great-grandmother Bryna, and great-aunt Bessie were held overnight for special inquiry because they arrived with no money. I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the National Archives for any documentation about this. I received awesome help from the Tracing the Tribe facebook group. Another hiding spot is the “pillbox” yarmulka he wore in the 1912 family portrait taken in Newark, New Jersey. Does anyone know more about this style of yarmulka?

Photo courtesy of Pam Weitzel

This Week

I only have one, maybe two, Amherst Writers & Authors sessions this week. I’ll just follow the prompts and see what emerges.

Happy Writing!

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Mid-Week Field Notes–August 11, 2021

Some quick things:

  1. I am now using Evernote to capture my field notes about works in progress. These notes contain key words, submission ideas, and insights about the writing so far or what I want it to be.
  2. I am upping my game on being a good literary citizen by continuing to patronize small literary presses. I read two books of poetry last night (loved Sondra Gash’s Silk Elegy published by CavanKerry Press in 2002) and two more books are on the way. The Gash book will serve as a mentor text of sorts for a new memoir work in progress about sewing.
  3. I’ve been sharing my #52snapshots with one of my sisters and she’s told me I’ve inspired her to write for her community’s newspaper.

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#52snapshots–Week 32

Last week I took my rough draft essay about my mother’s maternal grandmother, Esther Toby, through the revision process. I was able to do some additional writing to deepen the piece.

This Week

I’d like to turn my attention to a piece of writing I started last week with a Hummingbird prompt. It’s about all the clothes I made when I was in high school through my first professional years after college. I was quite the designer! Gowns, bathing suits, feet pajamas, suits, dress shirts for men. My high school guidance counselor wanted me to go to the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in Manhattan. I didn’t think I was creative enough. I never applied. But I wonder what might have happened if I had.

I have four, maybe five, planned Amherst Writers & Authors sessions this week. Plenty of time to develop this piece, any new writing about Esther Toby, and begin something new. I also want to begin to send out my piece about my maternal grandfather, Avram Mendel. And, as time permits, I want to restructure my Esther Toby essay and get it ready to send out next week perhaps.

And FYI, Emily Stoddard of Voice and Vessel is offering Throughlines, a two-week workshop about revision, again this month.

Happy Writing!

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Mid-Week Field Notes–August 4, 2021

Some quick things:

  1. My #52snapshot-turned-essay, “An American Constellation,” was published August 1 by the Jewish Literary Journal. It’s about my paternal immigrant grandmother and her three sons in the Armed Forces during World War II.
  2. I’ll be leading a workshop at the October Amherst Writers & Artists Leaders Conference on writing family history.
  3. This week I’ve been attending the virtual conference of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies, which I hadn’t attended since 2005. I still remember my first conference in 1991. It’s good to be back! Learning so much. I am now a co-leader for two of my mother’s ancestral towns: Brok and Zaręby Kośćielne.
  4. Two more #52snapshot-turned-essays in the hopper. I have a list of five others to take through revision before I turn once again to creating all new material.

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#52snapshots–Week 31

I am going to be focusing on revising some of my essays for the next few weeks instead of creating new material. The seven-day revision program, designed and delivered by Emily Stoddard (of Voice and Vessel), an Amherst Writers & Authors facilitator, will require me to do some freewriting to fill in gaps. Time for that will be limited. I have to start prepping my courses for the fall, developing syllabi and loading up courses in a variety of learning management systems.

At least, though, I completed revisions to my essay about Avram Mendel Pryzant. It goes to my critique partner this week. Then I have to figure out where to send it.

This Week

While I’m attending the virtual International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies conference this week, something I haven’t engaged with since 2005, I hope to get new insights into DNA research and maybe some ideas for new essays. I am now a co-leader for two maternal ancestral towns in Poland for Jewish Records Indexing – Poland. Years back, I was a member of the Board of Directors.

Happy Writing!

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Mid-Week Field Notes | July 28, 2021

Some quick things:

  1. One of my #52snapshots, “An American Constellation,” about my paternal grandmother and her three sons in the American armed forces during World War II, will appear next week in the Jewish Literary Journal. I will send out the link when I get it.
  2. For that piece, I applied Emily Stoddard’s “Throughlines,” a revision process that really brings out the nuances of a draft. I’m in her program now and working with an essay about my maternal grandfather. This process helps me understand my ancestors better, and I highly recommend it.
  3. Also still working on my Holocaust children’s literature database of some 700 books from 1952-2020. The codifying is taking longer than anticipated.

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#52snapshots–Week 30

True to my word, I did write about Morduch Krasner, my great-grandfather. It was an interesting journey through his documentation. There’s a family through Ancestry.com that insists is related to him through a sister, but I have no DNA connection to their cousins, and it just all sounds too good to be true. I insisted on evidence before I accept this sister, especially since her children were born in Ukraine and Morduch lived in Belarus.

This Week

I have engaged in a seven-day revision program designed and delivered by Emily Stoddard (of Voice and Vessel), an Amherst Writers & Authors facilitator. I am using my #52snapshot of my maternal grandfather, Avram Mendel Pryzant (aka Max Perlman). In just three days of her “Throughlines” program, I have learned so much about this piece and what it wants to say. Once completed, I’ll apply the same practice to other draft essays.

Happy Writing!

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