Special Collections and Archives

Barbara Unger Biography

Special Collections and Archives

Barbara Unger Biography

Barbara Unger, Biography

I was born in Woodside, Queens on Oct. 2, 1932 to David Frankel and Florence Schulchalter Frankel. My father's parents were Polish-Jewish immigrants; my mother's parents both came from what had once been part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. My maternal grandfather's people, the Schuchalters, came from Gradinga-Gorokok, a town in today's Ukraine, and it is possible to study their family tree on the Internet. My maternal grandmother's people came from a nearby village, Kopachintz. I have been unable to trace my father's family or my maternal grandmother's people thus far, but I have been able to research the Schuchalters. This family produced many outstanding people in academic scholarship, literature, the rabbinate, science and the arts, both in the United States and in the USSR. Only a few members of the family remained in USSR after the first decade of the twentieth century; most had emigrated to the United States by then, but those who remained in USSR were leaders in the arts and sciences. One was a major in the Soviet Army until Stalin's fall. I learned just this year that some were murdered by the Nazis during World War II during the notorious Babi Yar massacre. The remainder, Soviet Jews, came here during the 1980s and settled in the Los Angeles area.

My grandfather was the first to arrive in New York City, probably during the first decade of the 20th century, and later brought over his parents and other members of the family. He and my grandmother raised five children in Manhattan, first on the Lower East Side, then in Tudor City, and, during the 1920s, bought a small private house in Woodside, Queens with a garden and garage. The family were the only Jews for miles around back in the 1920s. When I was born in the heart of the Great Depression, we moved into the attic of my grandfather's home because my father was out of work. I have fond memories of growing up and of my four Schulchalter uncles. Later, as my father's small garment center business grew, we were able to move to an apartment of our own nearby. I have written many poems and stories about my grandparents, my uncles, and my earliest memories of life in Woodside, Queens.

In about 1936, my parents moved to the West Bronx, close to where my father's family had settled. The neighborhood, unlike Woodside, Queens, was heavily Jewish and, since I was about to start school, my mother didn't want me to be taunted as I had been in Queens. In the Bronx, I attended P.S. 80, a grade school that also produced Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Penny Marshall, the comic Robert Klein and many other celebrities. Most children of this era recalled a wonderful, almost magical childhood on the streets of the Bronx. I began writing poetry early and had my first poem, about air raid drills, published in The New York Post. I was a precocious reader and enjoyed drawing and creative writing. In fifth grade I wrote, produced and directed a class play about the suffering of the Chinese people under the Japanese during the war. I have since written many poems and stories about my early elementary school years in the Bronx and some about my paternal grandmother and family.

My father's business flourished during the war years; contracts from the U.S. Navy helped spur development, and we enjoyed new-found prosperity. My father's health failed in his thirties; he had diabetes and a heart condition, among other problems. Since the business was booming, my father left it in his brother's hands, and began a life of semi-retirement. We spent winters in Miami Beach and fall, spring and summer in New York. My schooling was disrupted during these "snowbird" years, and it was difficult to form stable friendships. The local schools were somewhat hostile to the children of "snowbirds" and no guidance was available. My parents were seldom home and I became a "latchkey" kid. But my father's addictive gambling spiraled and went out of control.

After the war, the business went into bankruptcy and my father was forced to return to work. It was a confusing period for me. I was not doing well in the Miami Beach schools and was unable to to get back on track. Embittered by my father's gambling and bankruptcy, my mother sought a marital separation. At this time, my father's health failed. He moved in with his mother, who lived nearby. I visited him often but lived with my mother. By this time, I had attended six different schools, but it wasn't until I entered Evander Childs High School in the Bronx in my late sophomore year that I finally "found myself". The guidance I received there helped me bring my grades up and I soon found myself firmly planted in a college preparatory program. In addition, I made good friends, got a part-time job and participated in school activities. Our financial picture was grim. My father was unemployed and in heavy debt. Although she hadn't worked for years, my resourceful mother found a full-time job at Macy's. I continued to write for the high school literary magazine The Bridge and wrote most of the senior class show. I passed the test for the tuition-free City College, the Harvard of the poor, and soon found myself taking the subway every day to school. The resentment and self-pity I felt dissolved and, much to my surprise, I loved City College. I have written poems and stories about my life in Miami Beach, but not about my high school years in the Bronx. I believe the positive feelings I had for Evander Childs High School and the Bronx were expressed in my latest book Bronx Accent: A Literary and Pictorial History of the Borough, which came out in 2000.

City College in the 1950s was a great experience. I had many outstanding professors and immersed myself in college activities while continuing to work at several part-time jobs. I majored in English and creative writing, wrote for the school newspaper and placed prose and poetry in the literary magazine. New York City's Manhattan during the 1950s was a fascinating place; I have memories of jazz and bebop clubs, the original Birdland, Greenwich Village coffee houses, Pete Seeger hootenannies, Yorkville beer parlors, the flourishing Broadway theater, among other things. I also recall the vaguely Left-wing ambiance of the New York intelligensia, the downtown used book stores along Fourth Avenue where one could browse all day, and even the Jewish Borscht Belt, the Catskills, during its last hurrah, where I earned my way through college on the generous tips I received as a dining room waitress in those grand now-vanished hotels of the era. I cannot think of a better place to have been during these years. Perhaps, best of all, it was the people I met at City College during those years who made a real difference in my life. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to capture very much about these years in my own writing.

In my last few years at City College, practical concerns intruded on my ivory tower existence. My professors encouraged me to think of graduate school, but my finances were bleak. By this time my mother was working as a senior stenographer for the City of New York and keeping company with a male friend. I felt it was ridiculous to be twenty years of age and still living at home. I made a half-hearted attempt to get scholarships for graduate school but, more than anything else, I wanted to move into a place of my own. Finally I moved into a share with some Barnard students on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I still wasn't sure of what I was going to do after college.

That was when I met my husband-to-be, Bernard Unger. He was a Korean War vet and attending Columbia University and City College. He was studying to be an English teacher and hoped to work for the Board of Education of the City of New York. My parents were ecstatic. My mother urged me to give serious consideration to becoming a teacher of English. I began to take education courses towards this goal. I moved back home to save up money and Bernie and I were married in 1954, embarking immediately on a summer traveling around Europe.

When we returned we set up housekeeping in a small apartment in the Bronx. I enrolled for the tuition-free M.A. in teaching English at City College, attending in the late afternoon and evening, and both Bernie and I began teaching in New York City public schools. I completed my M.A. at City College and landed a job at my old school, Evander Childs, thus coming full circle. Many of my old teachers were still on the faculty and remembered me as a student.

At Evander I became faculty adviser to the school paper and enjoyed my work as a teacher at Evander as much as I had enjoyed my life as a student there. After four years, during which I did no creative writing, Bernie and I decided to start a family and I found myself at home with bottles, babies and diapers. Unfortunately, I have not written about these post-college years or those of the early years of my marriage. At this time, I had one child. a girl, Deborah, and another on the way, Suzanne. I have written about my two pregnancies and gestation, however.

With a GI loan and the money saved by living in cramped apartments, we were able to buy a tract home large enough for our growing family in New City, NY in Rockland County. I had mixed feelings about suburban life. I didn't quite adjust at first. I began again to write poetry. I stuffed my poems in a drawer in the basement because I had strongly ambivalent feelings about them. I was happy to be writing again, but, as a thirty-something mother of two daughters, I felt it was eccentric and selfish to think of myself as a poet. However, I knew that, in spite of the lack of social support, I WAS a poet.

Almost immediately I began working part time as a reporter for the local town newspaper and later tutoring, doing volunteer work as public relations person for various community groups and acting in the local amateur theater. I WAS writing and I loved it but at the time I had little faith in ever being able to become a serious writer. However my articles on the local school scene were well-respected in the community. A local professor and civil rights activist offered me a research grant to study educational psychology in his department at Yeshiva University. The vocational aim of those in this program was to teach education on the university and graduate school level. I decided to try that. However, practical considerations again helped steer my future direction. I felt that since I was a fully-certified and experienced high school teacher of English, I ought to be out earning some much-needed money rather than pursuing a doctorate.

When my children were in nursery school I returned to teaching and by the time the oldest was eleven, I continued to pursue a doctorate in educational psychology in the evenings and transferred into New York University. I was not sure of my direction. I thought it might be wise to try guidance work rather than teaching. However, I didn't care for the work.

Then, quite serendipitously, a job fell into my lap at the local community college. They needed someone with background teaching English and background in counseling students to teach in the remedial program. Since by then I had experience in both fields, I took the job on a part-time basis and found that I loved it.

After a year, the Chair of the English Department at Rockland Community College approached me and asked me to teach in his department. I had no problem with a tenure-track position teaching college English. However, I had some tough choices to make. I realized that I wold be unable to finish my doctorate and teach full time and also be able to raise a growing family. Something had to go. And so I dropped out of the doctoral program and concentrated on teaching. While I enjoyed educational psychology, and probably would have enjoyed teaching teachers to teach, it seemed a distant goal, at least five years away. I didn't look forward to writing a thesis in the education field. By this time, it seemed clear to me that I loved literature and creative writing. After my first year of college teaching, I dropped out of the doctoral program completely. It was 1971 and I was almost forty. Again, I have not written about these years but have written widely about motherhood and my children.

Step by step I moved towards tenure as a professor of English at Rockland Community College of the State University of New York. In 1975 I attained tenure and at this time I decided to leave my unfulfilling marriage, which had been slowly deteriorating for years. At this time I had started publishing my poetry. My first book of poetry, Basement: Poems 1959-61 was published during the last years of my marriage. After it came out, I was encouraged to start thinking of myself as a poet -- a real writer.

During these years, and while at Rockland Community College, I published several other books. They were a poetry chapbook, The Man Who Burned Money, as well as three full collections of poetry, Learning to Foxtrot, Inside the Wind and Blue Depression Glass. My work appeared in many journals and literary magazines and several commercial publications. My poems were widely anthologized and I won many awards and residencies. Summers were spent at writers' colonies and conferences all over the country. I gave readings at colleges, libraries, coffee houses all over New York State and New York City. I felt that my work was being recognized and so did my superiors at the College.

In 1986 I was promoted to Full Professor. My classes were full and my evaluations, kind. These were happy and productive years, during which I wrote almost half of the body of my published work. In many ways I was the beneficiary of the women's movement which supported my dreams and goals. Times had changed for women. Things that had seemed unimaginable for me in my thirties no longer seemed out of my grasp in my forties. I wrote about my life as a woman, as a mother, about my childrens' lives, about my childhood, about the writing life. These were fecund years. However, as a single woman, I continued to long for a loving and stable relationship, which continued to elude me. I enjoyed the single life and wrote many poems and stories about it, but, as a life style, it was beginning to wear out its welcome.

In 1982 while traveling to Ireland after a writers' conference in Dublin, I met the man who was to become my second husband, Dr. Theodore Sakano, who, at that time, was a professor of chemistry at Rose-Hulman Institute in Terre Haute, Indiana. We became friends. Our friendship was conducted through letters and short visits, until 1985-86 when we began courting seriously. The visits lengthened and we traveled together, eventually becoming engaged. For a long-distance courtship, we managed to spend as much time together as possible. Through an amazing stroke of luck, Ted managed to get a job teaching chemistry at Rockland Community College and, in the summer of 1987, we were able to marry. By this time, my daughters were both grown and out of college, living and working in New York City. Ted's family flew out to attend our wedding and so we started life as a married couple, both teaching at Rockland Community College.

This was a very productive period for me as a writer. During this time, I published two books in the early 1990s, a collection of short fiction, Dying for Uncle Ray and Other Stories and another poetry collection, Blue Depression Glass. By this time, I was in my late fifties and early sixties, and thoughts of retirement were looming.

While I have made brief mention of my life as a poet, I would like to now go into that subject in greater depth. My story begins after my second pregnancy when I began writing seriously again, after a seven year hiatus. The year was 1959. I produced a collection of poetry about pregnancy, suburbia, confinement, birth, babies, but held it sequestered in my basement for about thirteen years. I was simply too involved in raising my young family to trouble myself with building a career as a poet, or so I thought. Finally I decided it was time to emerge as a writer. I think this decision had somethingn to do with my mother's death in 1972, which pushed me into a new space that had hitherto been too scarey to enter. Someone once said that in order for a woman to write, she needs to let go of the mother. At any rate, in about 1973, I decided to seek help from an old friend, Jack Hirschman, a San Francisco poet whom I had known in the 1950s while a student in the English Department at CCNY. I mentioned that connection in a cover letter to a small California Press and a letter came back accepting the mss. for publication. That press was Isthmus Press, a small San Francisco Press with some connection to The City Lights Bookstore. It was the very first place to which I had sent. I had no idea I would be so lucky as to find a publisher immediately. All I had envisioned for years was rejection. I guess I was wrong. I felt so elated! I was also thrilled to find the book on the shelves of the City Lights Bookstore on a trip that I made to San Francisco. I called that book "Basement" because it literally remained in my basement gathering dust for years. Probably this was the most exciting moment in my career as a poet. There is something magical about getting a first book published. In 1975 when the book finally appeared, thanks to a National Endowment for the Arts grant, I was 43 years old.

I began writing and sending out poems and giving poetry readings. When book publishers whom I had met at The New York Book Fair, Gil and Deborah Williams of The Bellevue Press in Binghamton, NY, expressed an interest in publishing more of my work, I sent them some. First they brought out a chapbook, "The Man Who Burned Money", a long poem about my father, in 1980, and promised to publish my next manuscript of poetry. However, because of his financial difficulties, my manuscript sat in Gil's drawer far too long and I eventually sought publication elsewhere, while, at the same time, continuing to hone and prune the mss. and its poems. My next book was published by Linwood Publishers, which came recommended to me by poet friend Karla Hammond. The poems in that collection were written between the early 1960s and the early 1980s, and I called it "Inside the Wind". It is probably my longest collection, because six years elapsed between my chapbook and that collection, which appeared in 1986. I continued to read my poems all over the NYC metropolitan area and upstate. After that, two books followed in close order, "Learning to Foxtrot," which finally came out from The Bellevue Press in 1989, thanks to Deborah Williams, and then "Blue Depression Glass) which won a contest sponsored by Thorntree Press in 1991, and was published soon after.

Naturally, I was pleased to see all of my poems, most of which had already been published in journals, collected in slender small press books. Only later did I recognize the downside of publishing in small presses. One obvious liability is that publishing with small presses tends to keep a poet from the bright lights of fame. A book published under a distinguished imprint tends to offer a poet more recognition in poetry circles. Another liability lies in circulation. As of this date, all of my publishers have gone out of the business of publishing poetry, except for Isthmus, which published occasionally. Luckily, now all of my books are available on Amazon.com, the online bookseller, and are in many libraries, and thus can be obtained by those who wish to read them. Looking back now, I would have handled my publishing of poetry differently. I would have sent out "Basement" in the Sixties, instead of waiting thirteen years and first publishing a book in my forties. Perhaps, if my age hadn't been a factor, I might not have gone with the first publishers to accept my work. I might have held out for a larger publisher for each volume. Had I done so, perhaps my work would have taken a different turn. Perhaps not. But nothing could compensate for the optimism and the joy of serendipity connected with the appearance of each of these five volumes of poetry. I was fortunate to publish my books at a time when there was a tremendous vibrancy on the small press scene in New York. All of my books were well-reviewed and sold out.

I have always known that I wanted a private life and, even today, continue to be wary of "celebrity status", such as it is. During those early years of child-rearing, when my girls were infants, toddlers and schoolgirls, I did not feel emotionally comfortable combining family with a career in poetry. I felt ungrounded and insecure. Maybe I was just a victim of the powerful Feminine Mystique. However, when I became involved in the political currents of the Womens' Movement in the 1970s, I felt a new surge of creativity. Had I never gotten swept up in the struggles of the times, I might never have emerged as a poet and writer. I might never have even tried to publish the "basement" poems.

What was my subject matter? I do best with things I've actually touched and experienced. When I wrote poetry, I made poems out of things domestic and close to my experience -- marriage, having children, raising children, family roots, genealogy, academia, literature -- and later the sexual struggles of a single woman, always trying to understand things for myself. Almost all of my poems are about my own life experience, memories, emotions. I believe that, even before it became fashionable, I was writing to heal myself and to survive the many troubling issues in my life. Back in the days of the New Criticism, when I was in school and even later, it was highly unfashionable to talk about poetry as healingl, but, in retrospect, I feel that much of my work falls into the confessional mode and that the prime motivator behind creating my poems was a need to help heal myself. Hopefully, the poems also transcended my need and that I was able to make art out of personal experience. This is true for not only in poetry, but in my short stories as well, and now in the novel I am trying to write.

In the early 1990s, a strange thing happened. I stopped writing poetry and probably wrote my last new poem in the early 1990s. I moved over exclusively into prose, writing non-fiction, short fiction and starting several novels. What events in my life influenced this definite emotional disconnection from the poem? All forms overlap, and this was the impetus behind the need to seek new horizons. First, I began work on a non-fiction book, Bronx Accent, with historian Lloyd Ultan, and this new book took up all of my available time and creative energy. Secondly, for reasons that are too complex to state here, my concerns and passions began to turn away from the personal and confessional. No doubt a confluence of events have led to this change, including the aging process, the nature of the literary marketplace and the need to grow as a writer. Today, I feel more comfortable in imaginative fiction. There's nothing unusual about this transit; many poets write both poetry and fiction and many have also made the journey from poetry to prose. I seem to be one of them. For whatever reason, my poetic Muse seems contented with what has already been accomplished. Sure, it would feel safer to work in a genre in which one is experienced, but if the genre isn't working, then what? Perhaps in the future things may change, and I may return to writing poetry, but for now I am content with working on imaginative ficiton, with a novel in mind. As of this writing, the novel seems to be going smoothly.

The novel I am writing is in the first-person and in the comic mode. Interestingly enough, the subject of the novel is poetry itself. However, I do not feel comfortable talking about a work in progress and so will return to the subject of my life in poetry.

Perhaps history is again repeating itself; but now I have TWO unpublished manuscripts sitting around my house -- one of poetry and one of short fiction. I no longer have any valid excuses. Of course, there is always the excuse of time pressures to explain my reluctance to circulate them. However, there are other reasons. One is that I am conflicted as to whether the poetry mss. should stand as it is, as an individual collection, or whether it should be part of a "New and Selected ...." Certainly, at age 69, I am old enough to be considering a "New and Selected," but I have been warned that only "famous" poets do "New and Selected ...." I am still trying to explore this issue. As for the short story collection, I am still working on a few newer stories that I would like to include, but which aren't quite ready yet.

To conclude this section on my poetry, let me refer the reader to my resume, which lists in detail all of my journal and magazine publications and my many poetry readings. I have probably been published in over 50 different poetry journals and magazines, including The Nation, The Massachusetts Review, The Beloit Poetry Journal, The Minnesota Review, The Southern Poetry Journal, New Delta Review, The Denver Quarterly, The North Dakota Review, Minnesota Review, Wisconsin Review, Confrontation, The Literary Review, Southern Humanities Review and many, many others. I have given poetry readings at libraries, coffeehouses, bookstores, colleges, universities and other venues all over New York State and elsewhere. Again, I refer you to my resume.

In addition, my work has been widely anthologized in poetry anthologies published by well-known presses, including The University Press of New England, Milkweed Editions, Negative Capability Press and others. As for my short stories, I began writing them in the 1980s and a group of them were published in the collection, "Dying for Uncle Ray and Other Stories" by Kendall-Hunt Publishers. Others have appeared in journals and magazines such as American Fiction, Midstream and Beloit Fiction Journal.

Over the years my poetics have grown and changed, as my poems themselves amply reveal. A doctoral dissertation by John Fitzpatrick, written for his degree at New York University, is included with these papers and is an effort to compare my poetics with those of another contemporary poet, Michael Burkhard. The dissertation may shed some light on my growth as a poet as one of the requirements of my participation in the study was that I submit two poems from early in my career as a poet and two poems that were recent. I refer you to John's dissertation.

If I may add my own personal note to John Fitzpatrick's study, I would have to start by saying that I am not a product of a M.F.A. degree. My education as an English major centered around classic and modern American and European literature. I read the English poets and the American poets, with the course ending at about 1940. I was familiar with Yeats, Auden, T.S. Eliot, but had no grounding in contemporary poetry. It would be fair to say that my earliest work was related to the work of the early Beats, The Black Mountain poets, the New York school, which I brushed up against through my contacts with a poetry workshop at Bucks Rock Camp in Connecticut during the years 1958-1965. Two of my earliest influences were Robert Creeley and Diane di Prima. Later, I think that the nurturing and supportive experience of attending poetry conferences and workshops changed the direction of my work and new forces began to shape my work. These conferences and workshops put me in touch with many other contemporary poets and their work. Among the conferences I attended, I met Thomas Lux, Maxine Kumin, Siv Cedering, Carolyn Forche, Judith Johnson (Sherwin), Bob Mezey, Mark Strand, as well as many other contemporary poets. I read their work and the works of poets they admired and gradually found my own work influenced by what I was reading at the time -- Sylvia Plath, Maxine Kumin, Anne Sexton, Colette Inez and other women poets of the era. I began to attend poetry readings and was able to hear many of the most famous poets of our time reading at the Kaufman Auditorium of the 92nd St. Y. This, too, widened my range of influence. I began to purchase volumes of poetry and read widely. Thus, I encountered diverse teaching and writing styles, all of which influenced me both as a writer and a teacher of writing. All of this came late in life, while I was in my late forties and fifties.

In fact, starting in 1975, with Breadloaf, I regularly attended writers' conferences and took workshops continuously into the 1980s, when I was chosen twice to participate in The Writers Community in New York City, wehich has a rigorous selection process. There I studied fiction with Nicholasa Mohr and with Sue Miller. You may refer to my resume for more information, but I shall just list a few of my experiences: The Squaw Valley Writers' Conference (as a fellow); Breadloaf, The Aspen Writers' Conference, Cummington, and others. These were definite influences on my work. I then began to attend writers' colonies to work and these include The Edna St. Vincent Colony in upper New York State, Ragdale in Lake Forest, Illinois, Dorset Colony in Dorset, Vt., Hambidge Colony in Georgia and Djerassi Foundation in California. I accomplished a great deal at these colonies and benefitted from the solitude and opportunity to gain perspective. There is something about a writers' colony. For example, when one sits in the main room at Ragdale, one feels as if one is communing with the likes of Carl Sandburg, W.B. Yeats and Harriet Monroe, founder of Poetry Magazine, all of whom were guests at Ragdale. The same mystique extends to the Edna St. Vincent Millay Colony and less so at the others, although the compelling landscape at Dorset, Hambidge and Djerassi more than compensate for their lack of literary history. During these years my work won many awards and enabled me to enjoy these residencies. I also taught workshops and continued to give readings. A complete list of my awards is included in my resume. I have been two or three times nominated for a Pushcart Prize and have won awards from The New York State Council on the Arts, NEH and others. I have placed in a number of national poetry contests, such as the John Williams Narrative Poetry Competition, The New Letters Literary Awards and others.

I am a member of PEN and the Author's Guild, Poets & Writers, Inc. and the Academy of American Poets, although not an active member.

Now, let us return to my autobiography.

With the maturity of advanced years, I was able to succeed at my second marriage and found myself very contented for the first time in my life. Ted and I have many things in common. We both love to travel, and, from 1987 until now, we spend our school vacations traveling all over the United States and Western Europe. Among the places we have traveled are France, Italy, England, Scandinavia, Hawaii, Alaska and most of these United States. Since Ted himself published a major work in the field of chemistry, he understands the challenges of the writers' lonely life and has been extremely supportive towards my life as a writer. We also enjoy theater, film, dining, sightseeing, museums, nature and I collect vintage postcards. Ted is an avid Yankees fan and sports buff. We have a wide circle of friends and Ted has been extremely supportive of my work as a writer.

I retired from full-time work in 1995. At this time I had just recovered from a masectomy and chemotherapy and felt it would be better to continue teaching on a part-time basis. I was sixty-two and had been teaching for thirty-four years. I was at the time collaborating on a book about the Bronx with Professor Lloyd Ultan, a history professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University and Bronx Borough Historian. We had met on a bus tour of the Bronx in the 1980s. The purpose of taking this tour was to show Ted where I had spent my formative years. Afterwards, Lloyd, who was the tour director, chatted about the Bronx as a literary mecca with me and asked me to send him a proposal for a book. I was excited at the prospect of such a book. After corresponding for a while, we decided to embark on the project. At the time of my retirement, our work was coming along, but I wanted to concentrate fully on it. I recovered my health and my strength and we finally finished a draft of the book. Then we began the process of finding an agent and a publisher. When it was accepted by Rutgers University Press, we were elated, but had to revise the entire mss. in accordance with the press's wishes. The book about the Bronx became my major concern. The first reviews have been very encouraging and we are busy promoting it, with readings and book-signings coming up at Barnes & Nobles and other venues throughout the metropolitan area during 2000 and 2001.

Shortly after Ted and I married, both my daughters married, and my ex-husband remarried. My eldest daughter is a reading specialist in the Beacon City Schools and has two children, Bobby, age 11 and Tiffany, age 7. My younger daughter is currently a full-time mom and has two children, Jem, age 3 and Ranen, age 7 months. She was formerly a ranger with the National Park Service.

During my twelve years of work on Bronx Accent, I have continued to publish my poetry and short fiction and give readings. Also, ever since retiring, I have continued to teach at the College on a part-time basis. I also extended my teaching to our local senior citizens and taught creative writing to them in the Continuing Education Department of the College for several years. My next writing project will be a novel, another collection of poetry and, after that, another collection of short fiction, but I am currently deeply involved in my novel. I will be seventy by that time, but am still "turned on" by the act of writing.