Biography

Born and raised in New York City, I turned to writing my own poems after I retired from thirty-five years of teaching 19th and 20th century poetry, both British and American (University of Pennsylvania, University of Colorado, Rutgers University).

Loose Parlance was published in 2008 (Princeton: Ragged Sky Press); Random Unisons has followed (2013). My poems have appeared in Threepenny Review, Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Slant, Tulane Review, The Silt Reader, Tiger’s Eye, Taproot, and other national poetry magazines.

I want my poems to feel the edge of engagement in our current history: where do our bodies and experiences fit? The political and social violence of the past decade has forced a particularly fruitful and challenging time in which to write lyric poems that are not irrelevant. Auden quipped, “A poem is never finished; it is only abandoned.” We continue to try to speak/write some words that may be useful to others, for the sake of coping. I try not to flinch.

I’m also a serious environmentalist. I’ve been involved in local and regional issues including land-preservation, appropriate conservation of resources, and sustainability. I’ve managed a successful campaign to save twenty acres of 18th-century forest from an inappropriate housing development and have worked for a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags. I’m now co-trustee of a broad movement in Princeton to stop an oversized corporation from building a development that would prevent the social and economic recovery of the surrounding neighborhood. Any place we live has the potential to be the Ideal City—not of Love, but of Justice.

Between writing and social action I try to find a balance; my poems reflect some of this tension. My partner and my yellow lab help a lot. So do long hikes in the High Peaks of the Adirondacks. Near the end of my university teaching life, I founded Jewish Voices, an outreach education program (1998-2003) of courses and discussion groups for Jewish adults and teens, through synagogues and Jewish community centers: short courses on Jewish poetry written in English as the original language of composition (from 1800 onwards, both British and American), with topics ranging from immigration poetry and Jewish women’s poetry to poems about Israel and about the experience of the Holocaust.


  “ . . . . A line will take us hours maybe;
Yet if it does not seem a moment’s thought,
Our stitching and unstitching has been naught.”
 — William Butler Yeats, “Adam’s Curse” (1904)