...In-between sets from poet Cynthia Schwartzberg Edlow

October 24, 2022

Superb Day to Post a Link to New Poems in PLUME #133 (September issue, 2022)

Image is: from five guaches by Dike Blair, courtesy of the artist and Karma, New York City

So I'm late, by a month. As time often tells, better that than never. But I arrive with new poems (and author commentary!) in the good wishes that these two poems may be gifts from this spirit to another spirit: 

“Let’s Talk About the Beauty of Cloud Cover”

“Found Folded Note on School Composition Paper 
          Partially Added to for Classified Purposes”

And the poems' commentaries (scroll down a bit):   https://plumepoetry.com/poets-and-translators-speak-10/


January 25, 2022

Onward 2022

 A few weeks ago I received an email from the American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS) that an occasional poem I wrote for the Emma Lazarus Project: Poetry Contest was the first of two finalists, along with a winner. I was most delighted due to the fact that my poem "Dear American Lady" will be archived with Emma Lazarus' original sonnet "The New Colossus." 

In her acceptance email with the AJHS, Manager of Programs & Operations Rebeca Miller wrote, " Our judges had an incredibly tough time choosing from hundreds of incredible entries made from across the country. Only two finalists were selected for each category, and in honor of this accomplishment we have posted your poem on the AJHS website in our Poetry Gallery...[and] your poem will be placed next to the work of Emma Lazarus in the AJHS archive to be appreciated for generations to come." (italics mine) 

I have to say those are pretty stellar digs for my poem to be archived with "The New Colossus." 

And coming on the heels of my intentionally taking a break from writing/publishing the whole of 2021. 

As defined by the Poetry Foundation, an occasional poem is one written to "describe or comment on a particular event...," and generally not considered the most pleasurable of endeavors to execute, as the subject matter is handed to a poet on a prescribed platter and while not distinctly uttered, a party line is courteously insinuated. That said, "I acknowledge" the latter half of the last line of "DAL" is a party line. I felt the need to wrap it up, and I was sorely limited to 14 lines, a truncation of my natural narrative poetic voice.

Poet Lynn Melnick

As it happens, the brilliantly soulful and accomplished poet, Lynn Melnick, was teaching a series of poetry workshops via Zoom about the Statue of Liberty this past fall for the American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS). Lynn is also a friend of mine, and I was happy about three things: I would actually get to see her again (think Covid-culture), chatting, smiling, teaching, sitting at her now-famous perch window overlooking a Brooklyn avenue; she taught poetry workshops at Columbia so I was thinking, hey, let me get a listen up at what those ivy students are privy to; and what!, dealmaker! - all the workshops were free. The more I frequented Lynn's workshops, which were not many occasions but enough to warrant a serious quandary for me: Lynn had obviously prepared these polished, chock-full sessions filled with insight into the motivations of Lazarus, Jewish history at the time of the construction of the Statue/writing of "The Great Colossus," the obvious rifts in "the times" between then and now, poetic themes using contemporary poetry and the Lazarus poem, and the bigger draw of the contest the workshops were propelling toward. I knew I had to enter the contest. 

I am glad that I did and that I wrote the poem I personally felt. This is an image of what was once a small green tree sapling. The Originals: Early Native Americans would bend these little saplings in dense forests to assist them in "recording" their routes to and from their journeys. If you happen upon them in your travels, they are considered rare good fortune.

Native American Route Marker from Tree Sapling

Many people are aware that poet Emma Lazarus wrote the famous sonnet "The New Colossus" in 1883 about the Statue of Liberty. Very few people, I am guessing, know that Emma Lazarus was Jewish. I did not know this. I was quite surprised at this fact. I am constantly surprised, as a half-Jewish woman, how little Jewish people are celebrated for their vast and myriad gifts. I want to see that rectified.

Emma Lazarus

Emma Lazarus was 34 years old when she wrote one of the most applauded and prominent poems in, and about, the United States of America. She died four years later. 

The text of the poem entitled “The New Colossus,” by Emma Lazarus, mounted on the base of the Statue of Liberty. The sonnet was written in 1883, and donated to help raise money for the statue’s pedestal. The text was later cast in bronze and and mounted in 1903

A public thank you to the judges of the Emma Lazarus Project: Poetry Contest - the Staff of American Jewish Historical Society, Actor Cherrye J. Davis, Poet Lynn Melnick, and Painter Josh Smith.

Looking down at the statue from its torch, circa 1890

(See article re: last two photos. 

In the interim since I first put up this post in November, 2022, the AJHS has moved the poem on its website. So, it follows if you'd like to have a read at it.


By Cynthia Schwartzberg Edlow

We acknowledge. Beneath the sun-spoked diadem

Encircling your celebrated head these two centuries plus,

You remain marvelously fair. Neither the heavy torch

Nor the massive, dated tablet have felled you. Still you hospitably

Offer greeting. Once you were a foreigner. Here is home where

Originals thrived. They toiled and feasted upon this land,

Trod many-hued dirt paths to reach five bejeweled

Great lakes, deciphered bird calls from bird cries,

Studiously bent tree saplings into route markers that stand

Today immense in the forests. To clear and cleanse the land

Fire was mastered. Reluctantly they gave way for others.

They continue to forge on.                 With iron muscle and copper skin    

Across pitching cold waters you came shipped.

Your relations courted an ocean liner’s sterling upper decks                    

Expectant of fertile country. Three decks below in dank wishful

Steerage, a stew of languages sung out for ground that would

Grant trust. From cargo ships, by haunted hull despicable,

Multitudes in shackled chains. Yet, for all, their blood, their kinfolk, their

successors onward forge. All who witnessed the boats sail in long ago,

And sail in still. Under your golden flame, the promise ever cresting.

2021 Archival Finalist – Emma Lazarus Contest

American Jewish Historical Society


August 23, 2021

Reelin' and Rockin'

Oh yes. Chuck Berry and his back, which I imagine should be capitalized, also.


March 28, 2021

On Pesach, Uncountable Thanks for Sparing the Lastborn as Well

 My first collection of poetry had about 85-90% of its poems previously published, or awarded, or something along those lines, but there were a handful of poems no one would touch with a ten-foot-pole, and now in reminiscing back on this particular poem, back when it was wending its way to a university journal or a new-ish press or a big famous magazine, for instance, I cannot help but be a- and be-mused over how unsuitable this headpiece was as their slush reading material~ 


Finally: after the battered, powerful red-and-white crane,

operated by a man called Maverick, whose huge hand

I personally shook, was raised seven stories high to the top

of Mayo Hospital, dangling steel beams like matchsticks

but scrupulously set on the roof to install higher space,

making room for even more of the unwell and terribly needy,

the sodomite prostate,

its ruffled capsule battered by voracious cancer

but not burst, and not spread to the thirsty lymph system,

had been yanked like a satanic thing out of there. By spidery robot arms.

The M.D. Ph.D. surgeon operated half a room away, fiddling

a joystick in front of a screen to burn death out of the trunk

of my husband. Yet his hands were small as a girl’s, the fingertips

tapered down like candelabra fine-drip wax. Earlier, he’d carried

a backpack to Pre-op like a high school kid on his way to first period.

Doctor doctor, I prayed and held my breath. When a terrible storm blew in

a nurse hovered over my husband, said to the medical team, If the electricity goes

I tell you that wife will be barreling through those operating room doors.

Doctor doctor, whom I could crush with one passionate hug…

five hours later he entered the little consult room

to tell me the surgery couldn’t have gone better. I swore

at the cancer, at the prostate, who we’d nicknamed Ernie,

Ernie the bad seed, and I made him tell me

three times how it had not spread, the nerves intact,

and I believed I would be able to make love to my husband again,

because he was there, alive, and his beautiful penis

might know erection once more, because I was selfish, and torn;

death had passed over this one day

our very house. I kissed the right hand of our surgeon

as if he embodied some mythical conception, the finite hand

that processed medicine and technology through the belly

of a simple man so that he could come home, and I

granted the privilege to shut the widow’s door, an empty room

with only a straight-back chair. The doctor then was up out of his seat,

would stay no longer, someone else was under anesthesia.

That person required attending.


This poem appears in The Day Judge Spencer Learned the Power of Metaphor.


November 23, 2020

Some New Poems Are Live and Not Wearing Masks

 The winter themed-issue of The Ilanot Review is called "Toxic." In it is a new poem of mine. When I posted a link to the poem on Facebook, along with it went a warning the size of a railroad crossing that went this way: "I have a poem in the aptly named "Toxic" issue of The Ilanot Review and a person tells me I am supposed to tell you a little thing about triggers. So if you have a trigger about mothers, or about metal, or bedrooms, or food, or dreamstates, or lipstick or toques or corners, you know. If you have a trigger about triggers you should most probably not read this poem."

If you've sidestepped the landmine and would still like to read the poem, please click its title: "Dream Poem of Mother Over and Above Her Kitchen-Skill Capacity."


To honor the 11th anniversary of the truly international, wondrously realized "mega-sized" (for this special occasion) literary journal Live Encounters, helmed by editor/publisher Mark Ulyseas, a man I deeply admire and respect, I contributed two new poems, "Dried Mangoes" and "Vibe Organic." The 11th Anniversary Edition became so large with beautiful poetry from around the world that Mark felt to do justice to the work being showcased he would have to create two distinct volumes, one exclusively of women poets and writers, and the second solely of men poets and writers. Here, I am posting links to both volumes, with their Table of Contents, and poem titles: 

Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume II

If you just can't help yourself and you have to read where it proclaims:
"We are all of us/marginalized" and 
"Shoots in plum jackets" -- let me step
right aside right now.


Thank you for reading.

February 28, 2020

Horn Section All Day Every Day is a 2020 Phillip H. McMath Post Publication Book Award Finalist

Phillip H. McMath Post Publication Book Award
I am honored. Along with six other finalists, my second full-length poetry collection, Horn Section All Day Every Day, is a 2020 Phillip H. McMath Post Publication Book Award Finalist. Sponsored by the Department of Writing at the University of Central Arkansas, this is the exemplary mission statement of the book award:
  • to honor the contributions of Phillip H. McMath to the Arkansas literary community;
  • highlight, and promote stellar books by emerging writers;
  • identify authors who can serve as role models for our students;
  • to develop the Arkansas Writer’s MFA Workshop Resource Fund.
Among the many reasons I am thrilled, a huge one is that on the merits of these poems alone, my book, as with the other finalists, was picked from a huge and worthy pool of poetic effort. I knew no one in Arkansas and no one knew me. There were no affiliations and no connections; no lunches were ever had, no names dropped, no somethings for somethings. I love that. I love that so much. When the poems and only the poems speak for themselves. Mightily enough. How a competition should be. Clean and true.

Many thanks to Stephanie Vanderslice, Sandy Longhorn, and all the students and teachers associated with the Department of Writing at UCA and the Arkansas Writer's MFA Workshop.  They run a boss program there in Arkansas and I hope one day I can visit and thank everyone personally. I am proud for these poems. 

...And I plan on being eternally emergent with my poetry lifework.

December 2, 2019

Live Encounters Marks a Milestone

After editor Mark Ulyseas contacted me for new poetry to include in celebration of the milestone 10th anniversary edition for Live Encounters Poetry & Writing, I was just entering the first crossroads of a new collection-in-progress where I knew it was appropriate and essentially crucial to "shed a skin." The two poems that emerged, as Mark joyfully expressed, came "freshly baked!" for his journal, emphasizing the nature of a turning, and here they are for you~
Contributors include really fantastic poets: Jeanine Hall Gailey, Sandy Yannone, Richard Jarette, David Rigsbee, Eileen Casey, and many, many more, and that's some of the roster in the second volume, alone. The first volume, too, is chock full of glorious reading! This is a beautiful journal in all respects. Hats off to Mark Ulyseas for his dedication and stewardship over a decade showcasing international poetry in his splendid journal. The entire LE Volume Two, December, 2019, 10th Anniversary Edition, at your fingertips!

August 9, 2019

No Egg, No Soy, Lots of Fiber

Someone I know talks on the phone to me, sometimes an hour goes past, and afterward I think to myself, "People in NYC actually get upwards of 250 bucks an hour for this very thing," but I listen, and am truly interested for a bunch of reasons. He's a very kind person. He knows a lot about a few pristine areas and freely shares everything he knows with me. I always have one ear courtroom-tuned where I've caught him in info that tells me he's considered "x" prior to just this once, or an approach to something set him off in the wrong direction, which is why "x" is now the situation. I miss working in law. It took me years to find great, totally ethical attorneys to work with, and really remarkable that they were the most monetarily generous. I remember that bird's-eye maple conference table that took up the entire size of the conference room. That wood was the prettiest I ever saw. All this time later, now, I know whomever did the lacquer job on that table was a master.
It looked very much like this--

A really long time ago, something like 28 years, maybe 27, someone sat me down in front of a computer. A tiny Apple computer I'm pretty sure, with a screen that was maybe 10"x 6" and that's if you measure the length before the height first. I revolted like a sprayed-on wasp's nest and kept saying all I wanted was a sheet of paper to write on, a sheet of paper and a typewriter! And this man kept patiently showing me what one key did, and another key, and all I wanted was a sheet of paper because every time I hit a key myself the thing talked back to me. It spoke. It said, "I'm tryin' to think but nothin' happened!" And I looked at the man, and I said the words I've been repeating about technology these past 3 decades, just about: We're going to hell in a handbasket now, boy! 
Because I knew, I knew it, just like Dr. Einstein knew about his bomb, they wouldn't be able to corral that thing back. Oh, to live in Mayberry with Andy. 

March 26, 2019

AWP book signing notice

There'll be some poetry book signing going on at AWP this Saturday. Come on by and say hello!

March 2, 2019

PLUME POETRY 7 is in publication and order-able--one click away!

Publisher: Canisy Press
An author roster like this is a poet's dream come true. I am thrilled to have my poetry in this anthology with these splendid, exemplary poets. You don't have to look too hard for the "needle" of my name in this haystack line-up, I'll say. I swoon just having Stephen Dunn's name above mine.

You can order your copy of the anthology today at Plume Poetry 7. I am confident this anthology will excite and satiate your literary spirit.