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Susan Ito trying to do it all: reading writing mothering spousing daughtering working living

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Rachel Tzvia Back: Wonderful Poet

One of the best things about writing colonies is the opportunity to meet other artists and writers. It never fails to blow me away, meeting others who are so talented and inspiring. This past October was no exception; when I was at Blue Mountain I met an astonishing array of incredible people. One of my favorites was Rachel Tzvia Back. I felt an immediate kinship with her because we were both writers and mothers, and of course we bonded over the neverending balancing act between writing and parenting. We had both left our children thousands of miles away: mine in California, and hers in Israel. We spoke a lot about the many things we had in common, and the things that made our lives unique.

Her poetry is powerful, moving, haunting, and beautiful. The night that she did her presentation for us was unforgettable. She read these poems, with photos of her gorgeous, troubled, beloved land as a backdrop.

I interviewed Rachel on her last morning at Blue Mountain, and it was just published on LiteraryMama. Here's a little excerpt of what she said:
For mothers in particular it is hard for the poetry to be seen as real work. It is so abstract. My husband is a doctor and his work is very physical, very real. People in the neighborhood are always dropping by to get some advice or help from him. Everyone is always coming to him for emergency stitching. He is seen as very important, and the children like that, that he can do these things for other people. My work is not so visible.
Um, I can relate to that.
Rachel's poetry is so powerful and intense and heartrending because she writes so graphically about what it is like to raise children in a war zone. While on one hand it seems so terrifying and violent, I was also struck by the sense of community and also the ironic independence that her children enjoy, that ours in America do not.
In practical terms, there’s every expectation that everyone is home at 6:30 and they will have a meal together. You’re supposed to be in your family and in your community, both together. There are no sports practices or anything that anyone needs to attend at that family dinner hour. There is also less of this kind of obsessive structuring of time, like "playdates." Children in Israel are much more independent. I don’t need to take them anywhere. There’s a bus that takes them back and forth from school, and they’re completely independent. My six-year-old takes herself to and from the bus and to her afterschool activities. I don’t ever pick them up. These things do not seem to happen here in America.
Read the whole interview here. Literary Mama has also published more of her poetry here.


Blogger Amy said...

Great interview, Susan. Was a pleasure to publish, as is all your work!

Sunday, March 12, 2006 5:50:00 AM

Blogger Trula said...

That retreat sounds cool.

Sunday, March 12, 2006 7:11:00 AM


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