The ProsenPeople

Submission Call: Clearing the Spring, Sweetening the Waters

Thursday, April 07, 2011 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

JBW reviewer Ellie Barbarash recently sent along a call for submissions for an anthology of the kavannah based method of framing the call to Torah and mi sheberakh blessings that have been creating for congregations throughout the readings of the week.

Read more: Submission_Call_Clearing_the_Spring,_Sweetening_the_Waters.

JLit Links

Wednesday, April 06, 2011 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

The Poetry Writing Process

Wednesday, April 06, 2011 | Permalink

Marina Blitshteyn is the author of the new poetry chapbook Russian for Lovers. In her earlier post, she wrote about the origin of Russian for Lovers. She will be blogging all week for the Jewish Book Council and MyJewishLearning‘s Visiting Scribe.

A confession about my writing/editing process: I have none. Which is to say, I wish I could say something about how regimented I’d been with this project, working a select number of days on select letters, sending drafts to my editor for proofing, receiving feedback, editing, sending them back. The truth is this was my first real long thing up for publication, so I’m surprised it’s even finished, let alone published.

As soon as I get an idea, I obsess over it, work on it religiously for a while, then come to a point that resembles a crossroads. Then I don’t know where to go. So ordinarily I put it aside until one fine day I figure it will come to me. Because Liz, my dear friend and editor at Argos Books, got invested in the project, I couldn’t put it aside for too long. I vowed to myself that I’d work on it last summer, but of course that didn’t happen.

There was only a brief glimmer of promise when I did a series of performances at the Infringement Festival in Buffalo, NY. My first performance had to do with conjuring up my memories of the old country, immigration and acculturation. My second performance was a brief Russian alphabet lesson, and the third component was a reading from the manuscript so far. I figured this would help me imagine the project and I was right to a certain extent. I worked on Russian for Lovers during this one-week stretch. But the progress was slow and not enough to make me feel good about the end product.

Then school happened again. Liz was a great motivating force, and I had no excuses anymore because I was given a deadline. I ended up rewriting the beginning letters as themes and threads started emerging towards the middle and end of the alphabet.

I’m still not satisfied with the last pieces but Liz gave me permission and appreciated the chapbook form for being a little more ragged. And naturally it doesn’t really feel ‘done’ but that’s a certain year-long frame of mind of entering into these questions and I like to think it marks the beginning of my engagement with longer projects and my own history.

Marina Blitshteyn is the author of Russian for Lovers. Come back all week to read her blog posts.

Quiet Americans, A Week From Today

Tuesday, April 05, 2011 | Permalink

Posted by Dani Crickman

Our Quiet Americans Twitter Book Club discussion with Erika Dreifus is next Tuesday, April 12th! 12:30-1:10 EST. #JBCBooks

(Personal endorsement: I read the first two stories on the subway this morning, and they are fantastic.)

Some useful links as the day draws closer:

J Lit Links

Monday, April 04, 2011 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

The Origin of Russian for Lovers

Monday, April 04, 2011 | Permalink

Marina Blitshteyn is the author of the new poetry chapbook Russian for Lovers. She will be blogging all week for the Visiting Scribe.

It was my first semester in the MFA program and I was having a hard time, as can be the case. I was in the shower one day and it occurred to me I wanted to write an alphabet book to help my American lover learn Russian faster.

He’d been expressing interest in the language, picking up some words and phrases here and there, so I figured I could work out a little side-project from all the MFA work I was supposed to be doing. I planned on going letter by letter, making each poem revolve around the sound of that letter so he could learn it better.

I started composing A in the shower. I wanted to have the letter A be the only vowel in the piece. Needless to say, when I put it to the page it didn’t look as good as it sounded in my head while it was being shampooed. So I scrapped that idea and allowed other vowels in. A ended up having many different versions; I had to go back and re-do the beginning a bunch of times.

Russian for Lovers was originally only about love; it was supposed to be about a long-distance relationship and a communication divide. Soon enough I started thinking about larger ideas like the fact that we speak Russian in my house, my family’s journey to the States, my own relationship with my place of birth.

Interestingly, I’d never written poems about these questions before. And then “Love in Moldova” came out of me, and it sounded angry and hurt and I figured there was an emotional core to this project that extended beyond a personal relationship to a loved one and into more political and cultural concerns.

Marina Blitshteyn is the author of Russian for Lovers. Come back all week to read her blog posts.

100th Anniversary of Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

Tuesday, March 29, 2011 | Permalink

A few days behind on this one, but never too late to share some of the great content from the Forward. To commemorate and honor the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire the Forward published a special section last week. The section included the first-ever translations of the Jewish Daily Forward‘s original Yiddish coverage of the event, including the front page of March 25, 1911, the day of the fire.

The special section also includes an original essay from David Von Drehle, author of Triangle: The Fire That Changed America, as well as the winners of its Triangle Fire Poetry Contest, a prize poetry contest that the Forward held earlier this year to elicit  submissions for both an English and Yiddish poem to honor the poetry of Morris Rosenfeld who documented the fire at the time and to reflect upon the fire’s meaning and legacy.The winner of the English poem was Zackary Sholem Berger of Baltimore, MD and the winner of the Yiddish section was Alec (“Leyzer”) Burko of New York City.

NYC Event: Howard Jacobson at NYPL (Discount Code)

Friday, March 25, 2011 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

LIVE from the NYPL presents

Howard Jacobson in conversation with Paul Holdengraber

Friday, April 1st at 7PM in the Celeste Bartos Forum of The New York Public Library

$25 General Admission
ENTER DISCOUNT CODE: LAUGH to purchase tickets for just $15

1.888.71.TICKETS (1.888.718.4253)

When Howard Jacobson won the Man Booker prize for The Finkler Question last autumn it was hailed as a victory for the comic novel. ‘Except that I write tragic novels,’ Jacobson declared. But he is nonetheless gratified that Jonathan Safran Foer said of him ‘I don’t know a funnier writer alive.’ Being funny should go without saying if you’re a novelist, Jacobson insists. In conversation with Paul Holdengräber, Harold Jacobson will discuss why any novelist who doesn’t make you laugh is short-changing you.

So what makes Howard Jacobson laugh?

· Ping pong, for a start but that doesn’t mean I don’t take it
· Ditto being Jewish.
· Ditto being English and Jewish.
· Ditto masochistic sex.
· The novel that preceded The Finkler Question is about a man who wants his wife to be unfaithful to him, and the hero of The Mighty Walzer plays ping pong to lose. But then we don’t read or write novels, Jacobson argues, if we aren’t half in love with losing.

HOWARD JACOBSON is the author of eight novels, including The Mighty Walzer which won the 1999 Everyman Wodehouse Award for comic writing and The Finkler Question which won the Man Booker Prize last autumn.

PAUL HOLDENGRABER is the Director of LIVE from the NYPL.

Sarah’s Key: The Movie

Thursday, March 24, 2011 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

Sarah’s Key (Tatiana de Rosnay) will hit the big screens in July:

April 6th

Thursday, March 24, 2011 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

April 6th is a big day for Jewish literature in NYC this year. Not only is it the evening of the Symphony Space event with Etgar Keret and Jonathan Safran Foer, but you can also check out the following events: