April 16, 2012

Third Annual Community of Jewish Writers, April 15

This special program was held at the Congregation Agudat Achim, with our MC, Leslie Neustadt. There were 9 readers in memoir & poetry, & each respected their time-limits to make for a pleasant afternoon of varied writing.

Marea Gordett read 2 sections of a "mosaic memoir" on Gods beyond Gods (including an invocation of the old afternoon TV show "Queen for a Day." She also read a couple of poems about loss, one on the loss of species in the environment, the other on the late singer Amy Winehouse.

Tina Lincer's prose memoir "Packing Aunt Gert" invoked in a lush, detailed piling up of details of the salvaging of her aunt's life-long accumulation of stuff from her Park Ave. apartment, done with humor & tenderness.

Joanne Seltzer's 3 poems, "In Search of the City of Peace," "Making Peace in Jerusalem," & "My Husband's Bones" were a beautifully linked tryptych. She has a new poetry collection out, Women Born During Tornadoes from Plain View Press.

Marlene Newman read 2 conversational prose memoirs, like a grandma telling tales of her youth to her grandchildren, on ironing (or "pressing") "The Table Cloth" of an long-gone aunt, & the broad description of life in "The City" (NYC, of course) during her youth.

Joseph Krausman read a sample of his poems, including a meditation on his "Doubts," the classic "Houdini on the Death of his Mother," "Going to a Double-Header" (a humorous fantasy of being married to a 2-headed woman), & the funny poem about a priest giving communion & asking for prayers for the Red Sox.

Terry Bat-Sonja's poems, starting with one about being at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, pondered being Jewish in a complex world. She included a California poem, "My Roof is Leaking," & the marvelous "Disordered Meditation…" about being Jewish.

Susan Oringel began & ended with Coney Island: first the marvelous, spirited "Song of Coney Island" based on a Lorca poem, & last "My Coney Island." In between she found the meaning of being Jewish in food: a poem on making soup, & a dream of "Mom & Dad Barbecuing in Heaven."

Henry Tedeschi writes mainly short stories; his poems, he said, are written quickly with little revision. The ones he read today were philosophical: "Elsewhere," "After-thoughts," & a poem about how often one can find good in what is at first a bad experience.

Susan Comninos was a big part in putting this reading together & read a cluster of poems on religion & on relationships, the Biblical sounding "We Have Trespassed" with its parallelisms, "Commitment," the take on the 1980s cartoon character "Max Headroom in Mid-Life Drops Advice on his Son," & the lush "Italian for You, Cooking for Antonio."

A marvelous afternoon of words, thanks to Leslie Neustadt, Susan Comninos & the Congregation Agudat Achim.

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