Who separates, and connects, Shabbat and week

Sharing mother poems with a crowd

I didn't expect some 25 people to show up at the synagogue on Sunday for a celebratory reading from Waiting to Unfold. It was a beautiful sunny day; I had braced myself for the possibility that only my parents (visiting from Texas) and one or two congregants would be there! And that would have been okay. Back in the Inkberry days, we certainly hosted plenty of poetry readings with tiny crowds. But our small sanctuary felt full of people. It was a real joy to see so many familiar faces -- and a few unfamiliar ones, too.

Reading these poems aloud is still an intense and powerful experience for me. Each one clicks me immediately back into the moment of its composition, connecting me with realities and emotions to which I would otherwise have lost access.The poems are so intimate that some part of me always wonders whether they'll be too much for listeners. But so far, people seem to be moved by the poems, and to find resonance in them, even if they aren't parents themselves (though maybe especially if they are.)

At this reading, our son -- who had just woken up from a nap, hence the slightly glazed look in his eye -- sat quietly the entire time, listening. I don't know how much he understood; I suspect that much of the poetry went over his head. But it was moving to me to have my mother there, and my husband, and our son, especially given this collection's subject matter. Afterwards, when people clapped, our son joined them in applauding, noting approvingly, "We're clapping so loud!"

And then people asked wonderful questions. Were you ever shy about sharing something so personal? When did you start writing poetry? (I let my mother answer that one.) What was it like, writing a poem each week? Was writing mother poems different from writing Torah poems, and if so, how? What are you working on now? Who do you hope will read these poems, and what's that like for you? And so on. And then there were cookies (thank you Roberta!), and cheese and grapes (thank you David and Joanne!), and I signed books, and it was thoroughly lovely.

My deep thanks go to everyone who attended the North County reading, who listened so attentively, and who asked such terrific questions afterwards during the Q-and-A. Thank you for being here and for helping me celebrate this new book!

Photos by Jane Shiyah.

Waiting to Unfold costs $13.95 (US, CAN) / £9.10 / €10.66 and is available at Phoenicia Publishing and on Amazon (and Amazon UK and Amazon Europe) -- though publisher and author earn more if you buy it directly from Phoenicia. Still: buy it wherever works for you, I'm just happy that people want to read it!