art in a new reality

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art in a new reality

What does it mean to be an artist in this time of pandemic?

It’s different for everyone; here is a glimpse into my world. In the morning I home-school my kids, which is somewhere between home schooling and un-schooling. They are in kindergarten and second grade; since I am a teacher in “real life,” and taught elementary school in my early 20’s for two years, this feels less like an impossible task, and more like an unexpected opportunity to be a big part of my kids’ education. It doesn’t look like school at all; there’s not much math, and there are many screens involved, but I try to use project based learning, follow their interests, and see it more as teaching them to be curious and learn about the world, rather than specific skills. See golem sculpture above. (Though I am doing a couple vocabulary words with my kindergartener each day, from a list his teacher sends out).

In the afternoon my husband takes over with them, and I work – giving performances and teaching sessions on the computer; meeting with collaborators on film projects; working on a nonfiction book project; teaching b’nai mitzvah students; and generally trying to stay on top of my endless to-do list. To be clear, there are not NEARLY enough work hours in the day. My spring touring was all cancelled, so my income is drastically reduced, but all the general administrative stuff and creative work remains. It’s impossible, but I do what I can. And then at night, after the kids are in bed, we watch an episode of Game of Thrones (late to the party – thought it would be too violent but I love it) and then I take a hot bath and write a poem.

This series began accidentally but has turned into the thing that is getting me through these days. I call this series “bathtub pandemic poems” and I’m posting them as I write them, in three places: here on my siteFB, and IG. (The last two have the most poems; it takes me a while to update my site. But, they also have pictures of baking projects, crafts with my kids, etc – which might be a bonus or not depending on what you’re here for).

Normally, I would never post brand-new poems; I have a long process of revising and submitting to journals and being rejected. But these are so of-the-moment, and I am so longing for connection, I’m loving sharing them right away. And it has been incredibly gratifying to hear that people are responding to them (including a really wonderful little spot on Portland NPR + a mention in SF Chronicle).

bathtub pandemic poems


Meanwhile, post-production work continues on A Kaddish for Bernie Madoff. So many filmmakers are struggling right now with cancelled or postponed production and I am incredibly grateful that we had completed production before this began. We have weekly post-production meetings, screen sharing what we’ve been working on and giving each other notes (here’s a screen shot of a recent meeting with our animator, Zak Margolis).

video meeting of Kaddish for Bernie Madoff team with animation draft

I’m giving a bunch of live performances online. It’s been profoundly gratifying to get to connect to new people as well as friends and family across the US and beyond. In an odd way, since I have small kids and can’t tour like I used to, I feel more connected now than I did before. I am occasionally live-streaming performances through my FB page and giving concerts, poetry workshops, and readings for various organizations every few days. I am so grateful to those who are setting up these events, giving artists work during these times when we cannot tour, as well as providing open-hearted experiences for people at home.

Here’s another bathtub pandemic poem before I sign off:

"Jewish holidays in the year 5780" poem part 1

"Jewish holidays in the year 5780" poem part 2

That’s it for now.

I send love and blessings to each and every one of you.



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