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Midweek Notes from a Practicing Writer

It has been quite a busy literary time since my last update. Here are just a few highlights, in reverse chronological order.

“A Reading and Conversation with Harman Writer-in-Residence Eduardo Halfon”

PolishBoxerI discovered the work of Eduardo Halfon a few years ago, when his first book in English, The Polish Boxer, was released (and I reviewed it). I’ve followed his writing with great interest since then, and I was thrilled to learn that he’d been named the Fall 2016 Harman Writer-in-Residence at Baruch College of The City University of New York.

The Harman Writer traditionally gives a public reading during the semester in residence, and late yesterday it was Eduardo Halfon’s turn to do so. He did a wonderful job. I hope to have the chance to catch up the author at least one more time before his Harman appointment ends: I have some questions I’d like to ask him in conjunction with my ongoing essay/article/chapter on writings by grandchildren of Holocaust refugees and survivors, which I’ve mentioned here before.

Back to School

216px-The_Story_of_Cain_and_Abel_(Bible_Card)Remember my enthusiasm for the workshop I enrolled in last year? Well, the same instructor–the amazing Amy Gottlieb–is offering a slightly revised version of the same class this fall. Now titled “Jewish Sources, Literary Narrative: A Writing Workshop,” the course convened for the first time Monday night. And it’s marvelous.

A quick summary of how the 90 minutes (well, let’s say 105 minutes–Amy is generous with her time) were spent: After Amy welcomed us and got everyone oriented, we did a close reading of the Cain and Abel story (Genesis 4:1-16). That was followed by reading and discussing a few midrashim and more contemporary responses to the source text; here, I was introduced to the poetry of Dan Pagis, and you can bet that I’ll be reading more of his work. Then, Amy gave us a selection of prompts. The prose poem I drafted is, ahem, not yet ready for sharing here (though I did read it aloud to the group). But perhaps one day you will see it.

In any case, I am so happy that Amy is running the class again. (And others are, too: I’m not the only “recidivist” enrolled!) Bonus: We get to ask Amy for updates as The Beautiful Possible, her debut novel, makes its way to publication. Last night, in fact, she told us about the plans for its February launch. That’s now on my calendar.

Sunday at the Bookstore with Ben (and More)

BookCourtSunday afternoon found me in Brooklyn attending Ben Nadler’s book launch at BookCourt late Sunday afternoon, so I missed the live announcement of the results from the latest Poetry Super Highway Poetry Contest, which I’d entered. But Ben’s event—a culmination of the months spent preparing the novel for publication at Fig Tree Books— was wonderful, and later in the evening I was able to listen to the recording of the contest-cast.

I was happily surprised to hear my name mentioned: one of the poems I’d entered, “The Autumn of H1N1,” was among the multiple poems that tied for ninth place. (Well, it’s something!) And if the title of that poem sounds familiar, that may be because the poem has in fact been published; this contest is one of the few that will consider previously published entries.

So those are just a few glimpses into recent days. What’s new with you?

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5 Responses »

  1. Hello Erika, I’ve just had a short story that’s been “in the drawer” for a very, very long time (fifteen years or so!) accepted by a Dutch online magazine called “Cecile’s Writers”. They don’t pay but they do proofread accepted submissions, which is so helpful. Working with editor Samir Rawas Sarayji has been a joy. The story, called “Travellers and Other Strangers”, will go up in a month or so.

    As I’ve said before, your blog has been one of the things that has kept me writing over the years. Thank you for all that you do for the great community of writers and readers.


  2. Erika,

    I’ve been a Texan for a long time, and I’ve never been to NY, but with all of the literary activity that takes place, you almost make me want to move there.

    • Mike, to be honest, it’s a little overwhelming, and I’m not usually this much of a participant in it all! And the funny thing is that just this past weekend I was seeing tweets from people at the Texas Book Festival and I was thinking, SOMEDAY, I hope, I’ll get to go to that festival!


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