A WOMAN MILKING WORD PRESS, 2006
I was a backyard farmer for 8 years, raising goats, ducks and hens, both for the joy of that interraction, and for food. The work in A Woman Milking, WORD PRESS, 2006 ($15) uses life in my barnyard as metaphor for human conflict and closeness.
Critical Acclaim for A WOMAN MILKING:
---"Slatkin's poems, eloquent depictions of the human-animal dynamic, remind us of our own desires, fears, and mortality. Each poems is a serious and significant vignette--revelatory moments cultivated by the poet's empathy and imagination." Mindy Kronenberg, Editor, BookMark Quarterly Review; Author, Dismantling the Playground.
---"These poems evoke emotions ranging from devastatiing pathos to unexpectedly buoyant humor. The rhythms of the tests easily lend themselves to musical expression and it was a joy for me to set six of them to music." Marga Richter, Composer, QHANRI: Tibbetan Variations for cello and piano.
---"Marcia Slatkin sees life as a parade of small miracles. With skill, she maintains a sense of wonder both at moments large and small. So she celebrates the child in all of us." Dan Moran, Poet, Looking for the Uncertain Past; Poet Laureate Suffolk County.
---"Using fresh, invigorating language, these poems are unsentimental but full of feeling, pictorial as well as highly textured, the voice fearless, but compassionate. Slatkin is sustained by her barnyard, yet is not afraid to take us with her as she sustains the animals through their own passages: birthing and loss, the fierce coupling of buck and doe, the sad atrophy of old age, the painful ambivalence of slaughter, and, yes, the indignity of being eaten." Myriam Chapman, Author, Why She Married Him.
---"Slatkin succeeds in creating poetry not of self or other, or pleasure or pain, but of self and other and pleasure and pain crystallized together in the same brief poetic form, sometimes in the same moment. This is the a kind of truth not brought to the page often enough, and here lies the core of Slatkin's achievement." Charles Holdefer, Author, Apology for Big Rod.
from A Woman Milking:
What The Stars Are
The buck chased her,
his fullness toward her tail.
When she would not stay,
he reared, hit the sharp
yard rail, and sprayed.
The man in the moon
was like that.
In the dark,
he pawed the earth's
soft waist. His fingers
clawed beneath her clouds.
And when she turned away,
he arched his back
the night with stars.
* * * * * * * * * *
I KIDNAP MY MOTHER -- Finishing Line Press, 2005
The four-years spent as care-giver to my mother, an Alzheimer patient, fueled poems both about the ramifications of illness, and the use of time together as an opportunity for reconciliation, healing, closeness. Twenty-six of these poems have been collected and publised in the chapbook I Kidnap My Mother, Finishing Line Press, 2005 ($12).
Acclaim for I Kidnap My Mother:
---"Each page is a small, lush painting, as if the poet circled her mother, illuminating both declime, and triumphs within that decline, with precisions and acceptance. Cortney Davis, Authr, Leopold's Maneuvers.
---"With unflinching observation, slatkin allows herself honesty mixed with tenderness, a triumph over pathos." Claire Nicolas White, Author: Death of the Orange Trees.
---"The poems, replete with eye-opening images, are warm and strong as the mother-child bond: beauty trapped and held in clean language."
Adele Glimm, author: Elizabeth Blackwell, Woman Doctor.
from I Kidnap My Mother
Amid a maze
of age spots, raised
as gravel, walnut hued
and jagged in shape,
my mother's breasts
emerge, still pink,
unscarred though fallen,
guileless on a sheet
of rippled skin.
And after donning
bra and snapping
straps in place,
she gathers them up
like scooping pliant
honey with a spoon,
or shaping dough
to buns that fit a pan --
and rests obedient lobes
in waiting slings slowly,
cradling each with vein-rich,
NOT YET: A Care-Giving Collage, Alzheimer's Poems
or A Healing Journey through Alzheimer's Care-Giving --
SFA PRESS, Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, Texas. 125pg. 2012
These poems illuminate the possibillity of forgiveness through daily contact. As I took care of my ailing mother I discovered a woman who beneath her anxiety and dementia was zany, intelligent and deeply loving. The pain of my tortured youth was transformed, as a potter shapes clay, into love.
Appreciation for NOT YET
---With keen intelligence, with curiosity and flashes of humor, with an eye for sensual detail, Marcia Slatkin takes both the 'angst and muse' of her subject, and frames them into art. The poems are unflinching, compassionate, moving. This is a powerful book." Carin Clevidence, novelist, The House on Salt Hay Road.
---" 'The deepest tales stay etched...' the poet says, sharing the pain and pleasure of caring for an aging mother. These intimate, graceful dramas, minimalist yet resonant, share the joy, astonishment and rage of watching a loved one hover between past and present. Slatkin's strength is in the bringing of both luminosity and humor to a great challenge. She is, as both daughter and poet, affectionate, obstinate, persistent, and brave." Mindy Kronenberg, Editor Book/Mark Quarterly Review, author Dismantling the Playground.
---"The poems are honest,raw, close to the heart. They will speak to, console and inspire you about the brutal, heart-rending realities and rewards of caring for someone with Alzheimers." Phillip Levine, Poetry Editor, Chronogram.
---"Many 'boomers,' in youth rejecting of their parent's values, ultimately take care of these parents in their final years. So NOT YET is both an anthem for a generation, and a critical addition to the new literature about Alzheimer's Disease." Tom Lombardo, Editor, After SHocks: The Poetry of Recovery.
-"In luminous lines, each page a small, lush painting, Slatkin's work respects the person within the patient, forgives the sins of the past, sees the possibility for wholeness within diminishment, and finds the 'peace of closeness' in any moment of intimacy. Every caregiver, every family member, every poet should read these poems. Those who do will be humbled and changed." Cortney Davis, poet, Body Flute, Details of Flesh; Leopold's Maneuvers
--"An unflinching observer, Slatkin allows herself honesty mixed with tenderness, a triumh over pathos." Claire Nicolas White, author, Death of the Orange Trees. editor, Oberon Poetry Review.
Ethel M. Thomas, Qualified Dementia Care Specialist.
--"This insightful book carefully preserves the humanity and basic dignity of both caregivers and those diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. The poems come alive, and their wide range of emotions will both touch your heart, and offer hope and encouragement."
Please scroll down for sample poems from NOT YET: A Healing Journey through Alzheimer's Care-Giving.
A Late Blessing
I wake her with touch, rubbing her shoulders,
saying the time
With a hug, I bend
toward the arc
of her chest. My arms
encircle, my side
hugs her length.
Near the sink,
I reach for hte kettle
by nudging her cheek
with my forehead.
I snuggle, then smile
at her squeal.
Despite her greased face
at sleeptime, I kiss her,
wish her good dreams.
This is the mother I battled
when young, the mother
who beat my defiance;
the one I hit back.
While we walk now,
she proffers her hand,
its gnarled back spotted --
but its guileless palm
soft as a persimmon,
trusting as a child.
You might think
I would have rid myself
of that old myth. The dead
are gone, beyond reach
or calling. But when,
ill for days, my mother
rises, looks at me
and calmly says, “It’s time
to find my husband,” the ice
that sometimes gathers near my heart
melts, flows over, floods. “We
don’t know exactly where he is,”
she says, her voice
a luminous string
to which she clings
as she starts to tread
some fathomless bridge
that leads beyond my tears.
My caress pleads
with her eyes, now
grave, bright, and caught
in what seems
a moment of ultimate
seeing. Then I sculpt
my sobs to words,
and cast a net
that hauls her back, back--
promising she will of course
find him --- just
New work in progress: a book of poems, OP-ED: Earth, with a focus on climate change.
Immobile, my form
was powerfully fixed
in what they call Greenland,
my sheets for centuries
stacked within an ocean
cold enough to keep my ice
intact. I was content.
My massive presence
ruled the height
of waves, and trapped
excess, a glassy girdlecinching seas.
Now, heat from a savage sun
attacks me. Huge chunks
of what I feel as body,
and weighing a billion tons,
shear off and slide into the deep.
I am disfigured. I melt
and drown at once,
the ocean rising round
a self no longer strong enough
to tame its height. If I die,
my power dissolving
into liquid surge,
the sea will rise twenty feet.
Submerged, my wave-capped corpse
will spread, swirl past, seep through,
and flood all low-lying land.
The creatures with the fleshy
legs and chests, with hair
and anxious, beating hearts
will flee my reach.
In death,I will be everywhere.
FICTION: Moving Stills -Story collection (8 of the 34 stories were published in small journals)
"Play the game, get ahead, be realistic," says Shirley, the strong-willed, controlling yet fiercely loving mother who draws the contours that her daughter Paula must explode and erase in her quest for identity.
Years pass, roles are reversed, and Paula becomes caregiver to the mother she so fought in youth. What growth will allow understanding and forgiveness? And how will this enable Paula to both accept and nurture new love?
"One of the most impressive qualities of this novel is the way Slatkin avoids plot contrivance while writing one eye-opening, unpredictable section after another. And Slatkin's writing is as agile as her imagination. A man who lives with her, unable to either work on his stalled book or share household expenses, seems 'coddled in this household, immersed in cream. Paula has come to see the book as a hungry animal, curled in Nick's chest, sucking.' "
Adele Glimm, author, Elizabeth Blackwell, Woman Doctor.
Set in a frenetic time/place, where parental illness, anxiety and ambition form a toxic family brew which Paula learns to navigate, the novel both shows the toll this bath bestows, and the unwinding, strand by strand, of the unhappy tangle within her. Of course there are siblings, her own children, and Paula herself, who, self-dramatizing and idiosyncratic, incites even as she suffers. But by novel’s end, she understand, emerges, can forgive, and can happily love. 2014
UPSIDE DOWN: Full Length Play.
When our world turned upside down during the 9/11 attacks, conflicts arose between people whose reactions, assessments and coping devices differed. Can one refuse to question, to imagine ramifications? Do parental politics play a role in our present reactions? Indeed, do past parental conflicts influence our choice of a mate? In times of political crisis and impending war, do we have the luxury of "cultivating a personal garden," or is it a moral issue that we take a stand and work for what we believe is just?
Come and live in NYC during this fearsome time with JOEL, photojournalist who lost one eye in Desert Storm, Iraq; the young artist EMMA, who comes to love him; her former boyfriend DAVID, Israeli-born securities trader whose sister died in the 2001 WTC attack; the zany, sensitive jamaican ZAK, a voice crying in the wilderness, Emma's friend JOANN, who becomes Zak's sweetie and learns to cook Jamaican hot -- and MRS FU, who has to deal with unclaimmed bundles of clothes found in her laundry just north of the WTC!
UPSIDE DOWN won a staged reading at the Long Beach Playhouse, California, Summer 2010.
It was directed by Tony White and given staged readings at Studio 353, W. 48 St, NYC, in September 2011.
Reaction to the play
*** "Marcia, I cannot get your play out of mind. Upside Down brought up important and complex aspects of life that we are all dealing with. And, you found a way to personalize those issues by means of your characters.
Your play is a tremendous achievement that tackles the big questions of our lives, as individuals, as a nation. Those questions include how to live our lives responsibly to ourselves, to each other, and to the world at large. And, you brought out how important art is in the equation, and how the pull to create can be stronger than the desire for remediation, even if one knows about injustice in society.
Thank you for what you worked so hard to present to your audience. Brava, Marcia!"
from an email by Miriam Bloom, Environmental Activist
***"Upside Down" is "Right Side Up"!!!! I am so happy to have attended this wonderful reading. Despite pain and suffering we need to find and hold on to things of beauty. It gives all of us hope so that we may carry on with our lives.The timing was perfect since it is the 10th anniversay of 9/11.
by June E Bade, Artist / Designer, CW Post
***Now, 10 years post 9/11, as our country seemingly has lost its way, Marcia Slatkin gives us a full length play which leads the audience through the complex issues involved in that event. She takes us “where angels fear to tread” with characters who have radically different reactions to the attacks and the buildup toward war with Iraq . Yin pulls and pushes yang in this fast-paced drama. By the end, with no one right and no one wrong, the audience leaves feeling that they can more effectively respond to the enorrmities of the past decade."
from an e mail by Lucy Burrows, ND, Long Island.
*** "This is a coming of age drama where a young, passionate, and artistic woman struggles to define herself and seek meaning and fulfillment in the context of her romantic relationships with two very different kinds of men-- one offers her material security and the other offers a life committed to fighting injustice in the world. This play is compelling to watch for anyone who has searched to find a balance between art and politics in one's life."
Alice Elman, professor Comparative Literature and Myth, Suffolk Com. College
***"Upside Down was a fascinating and thought provoking narrative that challenged the audience to consider their personal reactions to September 11th and its aftermath. We felt connected to many of the characters as they struggled to make sense of their personal relationships and their connection to the outside world. Best of all, the play felt very real in its character development and its final messages.
Talya Smilowitz, Soprano, and Daniel Morris, Physician Montefiore Hospital, NY
**** Upside Down Gives Rightside Up Vision of Life
9/11 was devastating for America in general and New Yorkers in particular. Marcia Slatkin's play Upside Down depicts the lives of New Yorkers from 9/10/2001 through 9/11/2002. While 9/11 is important in the characters' lives, in part because it initially brings them together, it is how the characters then relate to one another that becomes the heart of play. Parents and children, lovers, former lovers, brother and sister, the living and the dead are at the core of the drama. Realistic characters struggle with grief, broken hearts and old injuries in the middle of world changing events while trying to survive the everyday issues during the year after the towers fell. It is the love, the anger, the suspicion that make the play a memorable drama.
Given a well-rehearsed staged reading in a small rehearsal space in midtown Manhattan, the actors give life to the characters and their emotions. Under the deft direction of Tony White, the cast captures the lives of ordinary New Yorkers facing ordinary problems like ending a romance and extraordinary ones like what to do with the laundry of those killed in 9/11. The settings moved believably from an apartment to a health-food store cafe and back again with few props.
The play is timeless partially because it is so human, but also because it asks timeless questions. Some of those questions: To what degree should we be responsible to our fellow human beings? How much do we ask of ourselves, and how much of those who rely on us? We can sacrifice ourselves, but how much are those who love us required to sacrifice for our beliefs? The recent Occupy Wall Street movement lends additional resonance to this aspect of the play, transforming another of the questions the play raises from interesting to immediate. How can we gage the benefits that will come of our political efforts? And finally, when is political activism more painful to those we love than helpful to those in trouble?
Pat Morahan, Editor The Portal, Port Jefferson Station RTA, Long Island NY
MEMORY: FUll Length Play
"Memory" is a dramatization of not only the traumas Alzheimer's disease brings to a family, but the miraculous if temporary happiness that can be reached through spunk, caring, and chemistry. ... Here we find the turmoil and humor perhaps typical of a Jewish family's reaction to illness in the early 21st century. And in it, we see the triumph of a passionate and vividly determined old lady"
BKLYNHEIGHTS Courier, March 2 2007
--Can a grown daughter navigate between her own needs, those of her husband, and those of her aged mother, newly diagnosed with Alzheimer Disease?
--Will an 85 year old widow with more than a touch of dementia enjoy romance and relationship with a man she met at her senior center?
-=- What choppy currents make care-giving our aged parents both difficult -- and exhilarating?
plus .....35 One-Act plays and two screen plays,