Charis and Sinister Wisdom welcome Irena Klepfisz in conversation with Julie Enszer for a celebration and reading of Her Birth and Later Years: New and Selected Poems 1971-2021. This event is hosted in collaboration with Sinister Wisdom. Sinister Wisdom is a multicultural lesbian literary & art journal that publishes four issues each year. Publishing since 1976, Sinister Wisdom works to create a multicultural, multi-class lesbian space. This event is co-sponsored by The Lesbian Herstory Archives. The Lesbian Herstory Archives exists to gather and preserve records of Lesbian lives and activities. The Lesbian Herstory Archives is home to the world’s largest collection of materials by and about Lesbians and their communities.
A trailblazing lesbian poet, child Holocaust survivor, and political activist whose work is deeply informed by socialist values, Irena Klepfisz is a vital and individual American voice. This book is the first complete collection of her work. For fifty years, Klepfisz has written powerful, searching poems about relatives murdered during the war, recent immigrants, a lost Yiddish writer, a Palestinian boy in Gaza, and various people in her life. In her introduction to Klepfisz's A Few Words in the Mother Tongue, Adrienne Rich wrote: Klepfisz's sense of phrase, of line, of the shift of tone, is almost flawless.
IRENA KLEPFISZ is a lesbian poet, essayist, political activist, Yiddishist, and a practicing secular Jew. Born in 1941 in the Warsaw Ghetto, Klepfisz spent the war in a Polish orphanage and in hiding with her mother until liberation. They immigrated to Sweden and in 1949 to the United States, settling in the Bronx among Yiddish-speaking Holocaust survivors who were active Jewish Labor Bundists (socialists) in interwar Poland. Klepfisz attended New York City public schools, Workmen’s Circle Yiddish shules, and earned her BA at the City College of New York and MA and Ph.D. at the University of Chicago. For ten years, she taught college courses at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility. She recently retired after twenty-two years of teaching Jewish Women's Studies at Barnard College. She is the author of five books of poetry including Periods of Stress, Keeper of Accounts, Different Enclosures, A Few Words in the Mother Tongue, and Dreams of an Insomniac. She is one of the foremost advocates of the Yiddish language and its renaissance in the United States. Her work has appeared in Tablet Magazine, In Geveb, Sinister Wisdom, The Current, and Languages of Modern Jewish Cultures, Brooklyn Rail, and more.
Julie R. Enszer (she/her) is the author of four poetry collections, including Avowed, and the editor of The Complete Works of Pat Parker and Sister Love: The Letters of Audre Lorde and Pat Parker 1974-1989. Enszer edits and publishes Sinister Wisdom, a multicultural lesbian literary and art journal. Julie is the co-editor of OutWrite: The Speeches that Shaped LGBTQ Literary Culture. She lives in central Florida.
This event is free and open to all people, especially to those who have no income or low income right now, but we encourage and appreciate a solidarity donation in support of the work of Charis Circle, our programming non-profit. Charis Circle's mission is to foster sustainable feminist communities, work for social justice, and encourage the expression of diverse and marginalized voices. https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/CharisCircle?code=chariscirclepage
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Winner of the 2023 Publishing Triangle Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry
Winner of the Publishing Triangle's Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry (2023)
Finalist for a National Jewish Book Award, Berru Award for Poetry, in memory of Ruth and Bernie Weinflash (2022)
Jewish and Palestinian women peace activists provide Feminist perspectives and strategies for engaging the range of emotions around the volatile Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
In richly diverse essays, stories, memoirs, poems, and interviews, the contributors to this collection affirm the depth of Jewish women's participation in Jewish life and give strength to feminist struggles in the Jewish community.