Where We Find Ourselves

From July ’09 Spotlight: Sunday, June 7, found me at the Arts & Poetry Stage at this year’s Chicago Tribune Printers Row Lit Fest to hear four local authors read from a new collection called Where We Find Ourselves: Jewish Women around the World Write about Home.

Deborah Nodler Rosen announced “I found ‘home’ in a Mah-Jongg set,” and then began reading from her own contribution to the collection: “I am eight… I gather up the magical, mysterious Chinese ivory Mah-Jongg tiles and, exiled beneath the baby grand piano, build a gateless wall around myself.” (133-134)

Next Dina Elenbogen, best known for her poetry collection Apples of the Earth, read excerpts for her story “Independence Park: A Fiction.” “Now that I am a mother I want my own mother back, but she is gone… It is the eighth day, the Brit Mila of my son, the covenant of the flesh. Our living room is filled with uncles, brothers, fathers—our mothers are dead.” (38-39)

Julie Parson-Nesbitt followed up with her short, aching poem In Your Letter (written in response to a condolence card): “Suffering does not make you good. But it tears down everything you thought was true.” (207-208)

Closing out the program, Helen Degen Cohen read excerpts from her autobiographical novel The Edge of the Field. ”We were in this place [the Lida Ghetto] because we were Jewish. I had not understood it, this being Jewish… ‘Let’s go to the fence,’ I said, ‘and look at the field.’ Mirka said no… I stand at the edge of the field, looking through diamonds of space…” (27-33)

Forty-two authors of various ages and nationalities speak eloquently on four main topics: Displacement and Exile; Place and Memory; Language and Creativity; and Family and Tradition. To order your copy today!

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