Writer. Poet. Publicist. Resource Maven.

Writing (and Publishing) While Jewish: The Situation in 2018

Last Sunday, I had the privilege of co-leading a session—with author Rachel Kadish—at Grub Street’s The Muse and the Marketplace conference in Boston.

Session sign from The Muse and the Marketplace.

Here’s the official description for the session on “Writing (and Publishing) While Jewish: The Situation in 2018”:

This is an exceedingly fraught moment for many American Jewish writers. Like writers of other marginalized backgrounds, Jewish writers have long confronted challenges of cultural and linguistic translation as we craft our work; we have encountered problematic reactions to us and our writings that can be grounded in ignorance, bias, and hatred. But in 2018, some are sensing a new urgency to these concerns—without a corresponding growth in venues to discuss them, despite the writing world’s general emphasis on diversity and inclusion.

We hope to foster a candid conversation in which we can air and explore dilemmas we tend to face alone. When do we declare ourselves simply to be “writers,” and when might it be important to self-declare as “Jewish writers”—and what are the implications when others do the declaring for us? Which parts of our selves are welcome in the classroom, on the page, and in the academy, and which are we expected to mute? When politics is overlaid on art, what are the costs and benefits of speaking up? Finally, what resources might help us speak freely as both artists and Jews?

Readings distributed and recommended will include a report from the Anti-Defamation League (“Anti-Semitic Targeting of Journalists During the 2016 Presidential Campaign”) and essays by Taffy Brodesser-Akner (“I Probably Won’t Share This Essay on Twitter”), Junot Díaz (“MFA vs. POC”), and others.

The session was not recorded (at least, we’re not aware that it was recorded!). You can find a number of live-tweets from @GrubWriters if you search for them (our session ran from 10:00-11:15AM on Sunday, April 8).

At some point, Rachel and/or I may have detailed thoughts to share. As a first step, however, we have have agreed to share a short list of resources that we included on a handout that was made available to session attendees. We hope that it will be helpful to others.

Recommended Resources

  • Hevriabook
    “This is a place open to all funky Jews (also known as Hevrians to some). Share your thoughts. Connect with your fellow weird Jews. Ask for input or help with your creative work. Just let yourself be free!”
  • Jewish Writing Resources
    “Homepage” on ErikaDreifus.com for awards and prizes, places to read/publish Jewish work, and more.
  • Jewish Book Council
    “The Jewish Book Council is the only organization in the organized American Jewish community whose sole purpose is the promotion of Jewish books.”
  • Sefaria
    “A living library of Jewish texts.”
  • Tent: Creative Writing
    “Tent: Creative Writing welcomes aspiring and practicing writers in their twenties and thirties to the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts, to workshop, read, and talk about craft and literary history.”

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