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

November 15, 2012

Another Reason Why This Grown Woman Loves Men

How delighted I was this week to appear at Paradise Valley Community College as the visiting poet/lecturer in their Visiting Writer and Scholar Lecture Series.  I hadn't counted on what a wonderful experience it would be.  An audience filled with eager, attentive students was a blast!  After reading poetry for an hour, which is a long set, I then was honored to answer over a hour's worth of Q&A, and essentially share with the audience how I craft and construct my poetry.  And of course, all the musical influences:  I had to reveal The Four Tops had more of a hold on me than Keats.  A blanket endorsement. 

What can I say about Lois Roma-Deeley, Poet-in-Residence and director of the Creative Writing Program at PVCC?  She's a remarkable poet and person, and astonishing in her love of sharing poetry while "lifting all boats."  This is a woman I truly like.  If you don't already have it, do yourself a favor and get her latest, awesome volume of poetry, High NotesHere's a brief synopsis of the book pulled off the Amazon site:
With its many thematic riffs and harmonic phrasings, Lois Roma-Deeley's newest collection of poems invites the reader into the shadowy jazz scene of the late 1950s, where music and language fuse into a road of longing and desire. This book won the Benu Press Samuel T. Coleridge Prize. 

And oh yeah, how's that for a kick-azz cover?

SO, here's why this grown woman loves men:  I've got a brand new hokey-dokey cell phone, all the bells and whistles. Phone camera scenario:  Lois takes a picture of me signing a copy of my book in her office and the picture's fuzzy. Lois takes a picture of us weird-ed out by the new technology.  I take a picture of Lois pointing at my book, which you can hardly see because why would I remember where the picture-taker stands and that the sun's supposed to be at my back?  Just one reason I love men: A man would not have taken a shaky picture, a dark shadows picture, or a goldfish-bowl picture.  At the very least, a man would've deleted all of them.  But it's what I've got to show for the day -- we had a ball!

Gotta give us credit for trying. Cheers!

November 14, 2012

The Most Beautiful Blue Bookshop in the World

What I can truly say: Happiness and Gratitude Immeasurable. And I'm not overstating myself one iota when I say that. This just in: My publisher, Salmon Poetry, and editor, the wondrous Jessie Lendennie, and I have confirmed the date for my second collection of poetry forthcoming from Salmon Poetry.  I couldn't be more elated.  Second book in the works!  Coming soon, to all lovers of poetry and the written word, on March, 2016!  Woo hoo!
About one-fourth of the book is fully complete. About five or six other poems finished, and already published in literary journals.  Work ahead to finish that last big half of the second volume so it's ready to deliver to the publisher in the summer of 2015. 

One last shot to show the interior "blue wall" all of us Salmon poets are crazy about:

2016, full speed ahead!  Here we come!

November 8, 2012

The Dry Cleaner's Daughter

I have always felt, on my own blog, I would never present my own work in full. Until today.  Because of a confluence of emotions today regarding my life and heritage and ancestry, I want to present a poem I wrote, for those who grace this page with their time and attention.  I am very thankful for very much.  I always say that, and it is always true.  Today I am thinking about my parents.  I am also thinking about the unspeakable events that began their atrocious unraveling on the day after today, 74 years ago in foreign lands.  I am thinking about why it is that the human race edges always towards divisiveness, instead of the wonder of union. 

This poem is about my father, my family, my heritage, and I present it, today, on the anniversary of my mother's passing, in 2008. In memory of Isadore and Angela Schwartzberg. 


The dry cleaning business had its own mythologies. My Jewish
father, unceremoniously, called his Viking Cleaners.
Perhaps he forged himself the plundering marauder
of Devon Avenue, where stood Selma’s delicatessen,
Mlodinoff’s photography studios, and the pastry-luring
Gitel’s bakery; all quaked from the reverberating wake
of his landship station wagon, its suspension sprung, wheezing
and harrumphing along the potholed road, its interior stuffed
with bundles of the kehilla’s soiled ensembles of finery.
Great care readied the clothes for cleaning. Buttons,
shrouded with satiny cloth, zippers zipped and waxed, hooks
detached to safeguard gossamer fabrics from vicious snags.
Next, the pockets, reviewed — and there, from the sundry folds
of faceless pockets, sometimes my father extracted intricate filigreed gold
mezzuzot, and forthright silver Stars of David, and one exceptional piece,
brushed brass, in the shape of the holy tablets, encrusted
with striking Judaic stones signifying commandments.
He reserved them in a cigar box a year or more.
No one remarked on or claimed their vanished valuables.
These he brought home to me, as offerings.
A brooding girl: where were people arriving at
or returning from that a sea engulfed them, seafoam
prickly in their lungs, and the choice was made not
to display their mezzuzot the entirety of the evening?
No one removes gold cuff links midway into an event.
No pearl cluster earrings wantonly set aside.
Anyone would inquire as to their whereabouts.
What coerced fine Jews to shed these symbols, place them
in outerwear’s abundant depths and go on, blithely,
about their occasion? What amplified quality of
an evening had they? Did the company they kept, who
professed to care for them, care for them any more or less?
Was the wine spectacularly replenished, the dance
simply one degree more rousing?
The Christian does not remove the cross and stealth it away
in trouser or skirt pockets. A likeness of
the young Jewish journeyman is proudly displayed
around the neck. The crosses are large.
I now know my father drove that wagon
for his family’s sake. From out its windows wafted
premonitions and resignations in brocades of gray
cigar smoke. I was seven when I discovered Jesus Christ
and his mother were Jews. I confess I
was confused. I surmised he’d grown up the same
old way, the kids he’d hung out with, cousins, siblings, the
whole citizen block, families squabbling, embracing. He knew,
but any Jewish child knows the riotous arousal
they simply walked in on. Options were afforded him.
Would he, elocutionistic, peripatetic, charged and emitting,
with his Jewish buddies in tow, have removed all vestiges
of Jewish ornamentation, as he wound
his way up and over, on the road to Capernaum?
And in his travels, if he stooped
at the dusty roadside to hand a darkhaired
girl some cloth from his family tree, she
would have needed nothing of instruction, less
of intervention, and deliverance but an anathema.
It was a given, a corolla of nimbus,
a thing to be held onto in its immoderate beauty.

The Dry Cleaner’s Daughter is published in “The Day Judge Spencer Learned the Power of Metaphor.”  It first appeared in Jewish Women’s Literary Annual - New York, 2003, Volume 5, and was reprinted in Tempe Poetry in April Chapbook – City of Tempe, 2005, Volume 5.  It was also published in Scribblers on the Roof, an online journal, in 2009.