Willa | Not Dead Yet

I had the great good fortune of going to a reading by the poet Willa Schneberg the other day. I’ve been hearing about Willa, who is a friend of a friend, for years, yet had never had the pleasure of meeting her until her reading. She is both a gifted poet and a moving reader of her poetry.
RendingtheGarment-CoverI had the great good fortune of going to a reading by the poet Willa Schneberg the other day. I’ve been hearing about Willa, who is a friend of a friend, for years, yet had never had the pleasure of meeting her until her reading. She is both a gifted poet and a moving reader of her poetry. Willa read from her latest book of poems, Rending the Garment, and is number eight in the Mudfish Individual Poet Series. The following excerpt from Philip Schultz's review of the book gives you some idea of what Rending the Garment is about, and how unusual it is:
"Rending the Garment tells a familiar tale: the Jewish immigrant family romance, but with an important difference. Using shifting points of view and narrative interruptions, biographical essays, scolding notes from school principals, diary entries, not to mention a cast of characters as lively as a Borscht Belt revue, Willa Schneberg tells her story from the inside, where grief and love live side by side in bed 'neither old nor young' bodies outside of time . …”
After the reading several of us stayed and talked with Willa, having a wide-ranging discussion. During it, Willa mentioned a poem in the book that was not part of the reading: “Long Day’s Journey into Night at the Seaview Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library.” It was written about her father, Ben Schneberg, who earned a library degree at C.W. Post and was for many years a librarian in a Wall Street Law firm. After retiring from that job, he took a position at the Brooklyn Public Library—all of which goes to show something I’ve said for years: in our profession, it’s not six degrees of separation but rather two or three. If you’d like to read some intense yet touching poetry, take a look at Rending the Garment and Willa’s other books (and two of her poems are available online here): In the Margins of the World Storytelling in Cambodia Box Poems/Old Sheets The picture that accompanies this post is the cover photo from Rending the Garment; it’s a picture of her parents in what Willa characterizes as, “their glory days,” in 1947.

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