I am a poet of history, fascinated by the way we use stories of the past to illuminate the present and the way some stories weigh on us, choking the air out of the room, while others are elusive, difficult to drag back in even when you’ve got a good hold on their tails. Maybe because of the exact way of my family’s history intersects with public history (Nazi Germany, the Holocaust, Israel) or maybe because of my interest in how people become “others” and thus seem outside the sphere of human obligation, both my poetry and scholarship explore “othering” and the encounter between peoples in conflict.
Cyrus Cassells calls me a “new troubadour of witness,” a name I just love. Most historical troubadours traveled, though they were not wandering entertainers, often staying in one place for a long time under a patron. Calling me a troubadour makes some kind of meaning out of the fact that I’ve moved around a lot. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, getting my BA at California State University, Northridge when the Northridge earthquake let loose asbestos in the buildings and we gathered together to learn in portable buildings on old parking lots. Then I moved north, earning an MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College in Oakland, California, and moved several more times — Austin, Texas; all over Silicon Valley — before moving to the almost-middle of the country, Lincoln, Nebraska, to earn my PhD at University of Nebraska-Lincoln. From Lincoln, I spent a semester working at the American University in Cairo (Egypt) and then, like a salmon who goes home to spawn, I spent a year back in Los Angeles where my son was born. In 2009 my husband, son, and I moved to Michigan, where we are now happily rooted, gardening and growing in all the ways one can in a place where all one’s suitcases and boxes are unpacked. From living in all these places plus my travels in Europe and the Middle East, I have learned how important place is to belonging and othering. Not surprisingly, place plays an important part in my poems.
My poems have been published or are forthcoming in Natural Bridge, Crab Orchard Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and Jewish Currents among others. My poems have been awarded the Gaffney/Academy of American Poet’s Prize, the Mary Merritt Henry Prize, and the Phenomena of Place Poetry Prize as well as a Writer’s Grant from the Vermont Studio Center. My chapbook, Where Are You From, Originally? was published by Finishing Line Press in 2016.
I am an associate professor of communication at Kettering University in Flint, Michigan where I teach communication and ethics. In my free time, I love to garden and laugh at the antics of our chickens and ducks.
I was the subject of a Student Spotlight in May 2017 at 24PearlStreet: Sidewalk Blog.