Hello! Just a quick note to let you know that I will be speaking with a group of survivors at Oheb Shalom Congregation, 170 Scotland Road, South Orange, NJ. I will be offering a reading of My Mother’s Shoes and presentation of family photos as part of the Jewish Federation Metrowest’s Cafe Europa series. I am honored and excited to meet with survivors and honor the memory of my parents and millions lost during the Holocaust. The event will take place at 11am on Tuesday, May 21.
I am also happy to tell you that my haiku currently appear in Issue #15 of Haiku Journal, available in print and online. Check them out!
Here is a quick note to let you know about my next appearance, for the Hayat Speaker Series at Congregation Neve Shalom in Metuchen at the Friday night service, 7:30pm, April 19, 2013. The title of my short presentation will be “Blima’s Daughter: A Second Generation Holocaust Story.” Discussion will continue over refreshments. I look forward to sharing my mother’s story and meeting everyone!
On another note, kudos to my friend, Michael G. Kesler, keynote speaker for Holocaust Remembrance hosted by the East Brunswick Public Library on April 11, 2013.. Michael is the author of Shards of War, a memoir of his experiences during the Holocaust, and frequently speaks at educational and commemorative functions. Dr. Jack Berger also presented a fascinating explanation of how he traced family genealogy and translated Yizkor Bikher, the history of several lost towns in Europe. The audience thoroughly enjoyed the Holocaust music of cellist Dr. Tamara Reps Freeman. Finally, it is always a joy to see Dr. Paul WInkler, Executive Director of the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education. Paul has consistently supported my work and remains one of the greatest advocates for preserving the memory of the Holocaust as we move through the 21st Century.
Check out my blog as I update you on these and other events. And, oh yes, kisses to Zoey!
Today my poem, “Dreaming of My Daughters” was published in the online journal, Leaves of Ink. It is only available for one day, so to make things easier, I have copied the poem here. (Also check out some more of my online poems in the journal, Whisper). Read to the bottom for a surprise.
Contributor: Shirley Russak Wachtel
I dreamed of my daughters
Long-legged sitting at the table
Pushing back strands of their yellow hair
Which fall softly into their eyes blue like my mother’s
I could hear their words in the silence as they read
The only sound in the room
The sweep of a page
Hands of the clock moving the minute the hour
And I knew my daughters
Their golden laughter in the dusk
Their fingers tender on my heart.
I knew them in their silences
The curve of the narrow lips, so much like my own
Their bold unspoken passions as they bounded in the door
Drenched in joy and sweat
They crunched cornflakes in the morning and
Apples in the evening and sometimes
Just stirred their cups
Sitting in the darkened theater they held fast for the fantasy
In the back of the van they nudged each other for a window seat
They squealed beneath the covers that settled like clouds.
And sometimes I could taste the salt in their tears and would comfort them
And sometimes they would twine their arms into mine and
Move us forward down the avenue as the hands of a clock
Move toward the minute the hour.
And I would drink their lives, the lives of these women now
Until the years seeped away, leaving behind
A swath of remembrance.
Only I have sons
And their laughter is golden in the dusk
Their fingers tender on my heart.
- – -
Shirley Russak Wachtel is a college English professor living in New Jersey. She holds a Doctor of Letters Degree from Drew University, and is the author of a memoir, My Mother’s Shoes, an acclaimed novel which follows her mother’s journey during the Holocaust and as a new citizen in America. She is also the author of a book of poetry, In The Mellow Light, and several books for children.
I thought this might be a good spot to show you a photo of someone else I am dreaming about night and day….my beautiful granddaughter, Zoey! (8 months old)
A big thank you to the students and faculty at Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory, NC for hosting me for a presentation and discussion of my novel, My Mother’s Shoes. I met and signed copies for approximately 500 students who expressed a fascination with my mother’s story and the lessons of the Holocaust. I was particularly impressed with the various arts and crafts projects created by the students, and the college’s Holocaust Center, with its abundance of books and memorabilia. Of particular note were two students who spent a night in a boxcar to deepen their understanding of this tragic period. Next week, the Kontras Quartet, sponsored by the West Piedmont Symphony will feature My Mother’s Shoes as the theme for its spring performance. For this, I am deeply honored.
From the meals which featured potatoes, the first food many survivors had upon liberation, and the poppy seed cakes (“moon”), beloved by my mother, to sharing of family stories and the lessons of history, I am grateful. I particularly wish to extend my gratitude to Arlene Neal, Ari Sigal, and Annis Shields, for inviting me to Hickory and showing me such warmth. Finally, I want to express my pleasure at meeting survivor Manfred Katz, who is the true hero.
Hello Everyone! I am happy to announce that my poetry has been accepted into “Whisper,” an online poetry publication. Please check out “Tidying Up” at the site, with more in days to come. Here is the link:http://www.ur-online-shopping.com/poetry/
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Reminder: I will be appearing at Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory, NC as their guest author on March 12, 13, 2013. I look forward to meeting students, faculty, and community members, and a lively discussion of My Mother’s Shoes.
Hello Everyone–Well, I am on the road again, this time to Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory, NC. I look forward to meeting students and faculty who are reading My Mother’s Shoes where I will tell my mother’s story of turmoil, redemption, and, ultimately, hope. See press release below:
Author Shirley Wachtel Reads on Campus March 12 & 13