Monday, September 16, 2019

Writing and Widowhood

a class with Esther Altshul Helfgott
 November  4, 11, 18, 25    
Greenwood Senior Center - 206-297-0875

 According to the dictionary, a widow is “a woman who has lost her spouse by death and has not remarried.” Another definition refers to a widow as “empty.” Through writing exercises and discussion, we will explore the waves of grief that continue long after a love one’s death (even after remarriage). We will ask ourselves questions: Do I become a new person after my loved-one dies? Must I recreate myself? Can I still have fun? Writing has always helped me come back to myself. I’m hoping this class will help you too. In the meantime, make a list of words associated with the word “widow.” Here’s a start: widow’s peak, widow’s chamber, widow’s hand, and the flower, widow’s frill. 
Widow’s frill
Esther Altshul Helfgott is a nonfiction writer & poet with a Ph.D. in history from the University of Washington. She is the author of Listening to Mozart: Poems of Alzheimer’s (Yakima, WA: Cave Moon Press, 2014); Dear Alzheimer’s: A Caregiver’s Diary & Poems (Yakima, WA: Cave Moon Press, 2013); The Homeless One: A Poem in Many Voices (Seattle: Kota Press, 2000). Her work appears in Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose about Alzheimer's Disease, American Imago; BlackPast; Blue Lyre Review; Cirque, Floating Bridge Review, HistoryLink.org; Journal of Poetry Therapy; Raven Chronicles and elsewhere. She is the founder of Seattle's It's About Time Writers Reading Series, now in its 29th year, and is editor with Peggy Sturdivant and Katie Tynan of the forthcoming So, Dear Writer: An It's About Time Writers' Reading Series Anthology… (Yakima: Cave Moon Press, 2019)


Sunday, September 08, 2019

Writing to Heal

5 Wednesdays in Oct.
6:30-8:30 pm
$125. email me if interested 
eahelfgott@gmail.com
I don’t know what I would have done, all through those long years that my husband suffered from Alzheimer’s, had writing not been an integral part of my life. Writing provided me with a way to center myself, all the while Alzheimer’s threatened to unravel, unhinge and destroy. Writing continues to help me heal from life’s surprises and also helps me celebrate them.
Bring a notebook, a pencil or pen. Take a seat at my table. I’ll give you a prompt – a poem, say. Or a piece of conversation—and begin writing. In any form or style that comes to mind. Don’t worry about commas, semicolons, question marks or spaces. Just write - scribble, ramble - until I tell you to stop.  Then, if you want, you’ll read, or talk about, what you’ve written.
Writing elicits insight. It fosters self-understanding & personal growth.

Writing helps us remember ourselves in the past. It uncovers silences & secrets & helps us confront suffering & loss.

eahelfgott@gmail.com

Esther Altshul Helfgott is a non-fiction writer & poet with a Ph.D. in history from the University of Washington. She is the editor with Peggy Sturdivant and Katie Tynan of the forthcoming anthology So, Dear Writer… An It’s About Time Writers’ Reading Series Anthology (Cave Moon Press, 2019). She is the author of Listening to Mozart: Poems of Alzheimer’s (Yakima, WA: Cave Moon Press, 2014; Dear Alzheimer’s: A Caregiver’s Diary & Poems (Yakima, WA: Cave Moon Press, 2013); The Homeless One: A Poem in Many Voices (Seattle: Kota Press, 2000). Her work appears in American Imago: Psychoanalysis and the Human SciencesBeyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose about Alzheimer's DiseaseBlackPast: Remembered and Reclaimed; Blue Lyre ReviewCirque: A Literary Journal for Alaska and the Pacific NorthwestFloating Bridge Review; HistoryLink; Journal of Poetry Therapy;  Literary Mama;  Pontoon;  Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy ReviewRaven Chronicles, Ribbons; Seattle Star; & others. She is the founder of Seattle's It's About Time Writers’ Reading Series, now in its 29th year; and she, especially, loves the poetry pole her kids built her for Mothers’ Day. www.estherhelfgott.com  
From 2008 to 2015, Esther wrote the blog, Witnessing Alzheimer's: A Caregiver's View, for the Seattle P.I., her best example of writing to heal.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Ann Teplick & Esther Altshul Helfgott read for Word Chase @ Ravenna Third Place Books

Wed., August 21st, 7 PM

For just this one month of Aug., Julene T. Weaver's Word Chase Reading, usually held at Cafe Racer, will be at Ravenna Books

with Bryan Lineberry on Saxophone   

Open Mic (up to 4 min)

 6504 21st Ave N.E.  Seattle, WA 98115




Ann Teplick & Esther Altshul Helfgott  

Ann Teplick is a Seattle poet, playwright, prose writer, and teaching artist. She writes with youth at Seattle Children’s Hospital, through Seattle Arts and Lectures’ Writers in the Schools program; at Child Study Treatment Center (state psychiatric hospital), through Pongo Teen Writing; and Coyote Central.  She’s received support for creative work from Artist Trust, Seattle Office of Arts and Culture, 4Culture, and The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She is a Jack Straw and Hedgebrook alumna. Her poems have been published in Tahoma Literary Review, Raven Chronicles, The Louisville Review, Crab Creek Review, Hunger Mountain, 4Culture’s Poetry on the Bus, and others. She is currently working on a young-adult novel in poems about a family that falls apart and comes together again after a suicide of one of their own. 
        
Esther Altshul Helfgott is a non-fiction writer & poet with a Ph.D. in history from the University of Washington. She is the editor, with Peggy Sturdivant and Katie Tynan, of the forthcoming anthology So, Dear Writers…An It’s About Time Writers’ Reading Series Anthology (Yakima, WA: Cave Moon Press, 2019). She is the author of Listening to Mozart: Poems of Alzheimer’s (Cave Moon Press, 2014; Dear Alzheimer’s: A Caregiver’s Diary & Poems (Cave Moon Press, 2013); The Homeless One: A Poem in Many Voices (Seattle: Kota Press, 2000). Her work appears in American Imago; Beyond Forgetting; BlackPast; Blue Lyre ReviewCirqueFloating Bridge Review; HistoryLink; Journal of Poetry Therapy; Raven Chronicles, Ribbons & others. She is the founder of Seattle's It's About Time Writers’ Reading Series, now in its 29th year. 

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Spring on the Poetry Pole



Smokey-Bro:
"We were taking a walk
And what did we find
But a poetry pole
With Ma's poem inside."

Spring
Tulips outside my front door.
Lilies in my neighbor’s yard.
Pink and white rhododendrons
emerging from their buds.
Crocuses lined up like purple soldiers
waiting for a drill.
New brides yawning,
stretching toward the sun.
     
                                  - Esther Altshul Helfgott
       from Tree Walk Book, Summer 2005

"Yay, Ma! 
Woof to you."

Thank you Kelly E Sweet

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Smokey-Bro: Ma's Blogging Again



January 1, 2019 
(copied from my journal)

One wonders:
               Has the meningioma
caused the pulling back
              from human contact
                      the dislike of social interactions
the need to stay home
                     not go out into society
                           not to parties
not even the grocery store?

 "The risk of meningioma can be reduced by maintaining a normal body weight, and by avoiding unnecessary dental x-rays," says Wikipedia (Not the greatest source, but interesting).

The neurosurgeon's visit did not tell me this. But let's face it, I was too immersed in the guy's good looks to remember the questions I wanted to ask .... Will I never grow too old for this kind of silliness?

He said I probably had the tumor since the year 2000. It's not cancerous but if it presses more on the lobe (which one?) my right side may start to drag: a foot, a leg, a shoulder.

(Shall I begin recording this on my blog? Will it be helpful to anyone? Will it help me stay focused on my writing, on getting as much done as I can, while I'm able?)

... My right side may start to drag: a foot, a leg, a shoulder ...

Surgery could be worse than leaving it alone. "Surgery can cause a stroke," he says. I'll have another MRI in September. "All we have to do is watch it for now."

The doctor said nothing about dental x-rays and nothing about my weight. Nor did I know to ask him about these two possibilities. But I've had plenty of dental x-rays in the past and am due for a cleaning this month.

The first thing the dentist will tell me is we have to take more x-rays and I will tell him "No thank you, just a cleaning will be fine this time." He and the technician will argue with me, no doubt. I'll let them argue but will stand firm.

The last time I was in the dentist's chair and mentioned that my tooth hurt, he took x-rays and said I needed a root canal. (I had a root canal on the tooth next door to that one already). I go get the root canal - another out-of-pocket $1000+ - and my tooth is still hurting.

But I will not get anymore x-rays and will live with the annoyance. As for weight gain - I will do my best not to eat the raspberry-filled sugar donuts my daughter just brought me, along with those beautiful flowers.

Should I start blogging again? At least I wouldn't be hiding from myself. Why does "being seen" mean doing something with the self? And not being seen, not doing anything with the self?

I like not being public, not expanding on who I am and isn't that what writing outside the self does? But if you're a writer you have to write and share what you've written? I have six file cabinets filled with my writings. Should I throw them out? What to do with forty-five years of journals?

Does being public change the self?
How to keep the self intact when interacting with others?
How to remember oneself when in a public space?

I'm reading Saadi Youssef.



                            "As for me, I say: I have no actual life outside poetry."
                                     (Saadi Youssef, Nostalgia, My Enemy, p. 4)

Did I crawl back into myself after the Alzheimer books? I didn't like being so public, writing and talking about Abe without him here... without his telling of his own story ... using his material ...

Yet, I seem to be coming out of my "blues," if that's what's been happening for the last few years. Or, maybe it's the brain tumor. Who knows. Either way, I have to live with it and work around it.

Going to Jackie's now. She's painting a wall and wants my opinion: Silver or champagne? I'm going for the warmer shade, champagne.

Happy New Year, with thanks to poets who help me to write and remember who I am. To Ann Hursey, Loreen Lee and Trish Honig. To my grandson, Hunter, who listens to me talk while he's driving home from college; and to Smokey-Bro, who is no trouble at all, sometimes.