Recent Publications and Stories
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 non-profits in my Community

Morgan High School, Clinton, CT Special Project uses New Authors Journal Author

 

 

Eric Bergman a teacher within the  English Department at The Morgan School  in Clinton, CT. developed a special project where an author from the community is a guest mentor in the school’s creative writing class. This year I was the first author to be a steady presence for ten classes in Mrs. Chausse’s creative writing class. This was also unique due to the pandemic. It gave them a connection to the community. However, being a senior citizen it built an enormous Intergenerational bond between the students and their mentor.

 

I would read various pieces from my memoir, creative non fiction, flash fiction, various types of poetry, as well as, my travel and food reviews that have been published. Then I would give tips on my process as well as the main features of each style of writing. Ironically, in the spring 2021 issue of New Authors Journal, I had examples of these styles from which to use as examples. Other stories of mine previously published in past issues of New Authors Journal were also used as an integral part of the class.

 

I was equally inspired by these wonderful young writers, and what they had to say. I told them that as a senior citizen I liked to mentor. I also told them the history of New Authors Journal, and the story of how Mario Farina and his support staff were seniors and their sole mission for publishing NAJ was to help writers get started by publishing their work. A labor of love and  a way of mentoring. I convinced them that their work had great bones and could indeed be published. This all happened in Mrs. Chausse’s Creative writing class two mornings a week. The class was split in half, I would read and talk about my process for each style, then under Mrs. Chausse’s direction they would spend the rest of the period writing and polishing their work. We would read the pieces the following week with an evaluation form I developed to help them constructively give feedback to each other after reading.

 

On the following pages are some examples of poetry the students completed with this special project. I also wrote a tribute poem to the students “Ode to Mrs. Chausse’s Class”. Surprisingly, they wrote one to me as well.

 

I hope you enjoy the high school junior and seniors work included on the following pages. Many are new writers just starting out as well as some more experienced writers, but to get a glimpse into what their perspective of life is was priceless to me. The project proved to be successful, and built a meaningful outlet for expression in a challenging time in all our lives. So I am happy I will  be back in class again in the fall to mentor another group of promising writers. 

 

If you enjoy their work, please go on the the Clinton Poet Laureate Facebook page and make a general comment. They are members, as well as their teachers and will appreciate the feedback. Giving good support and feedback to others is one of the lessons I taught them.

 

Cathy Weiss, Poet Laureate Town of Clinton, CT 

This is a collaborative tribute poem the students wrote at the end of the year which will also be published in the Fall 2021 issue of the New Authors Journal.

Thank You Mrs. Weiss 

We live in the same town but have never met face to face. A voice from afar
Breaking the silence
A two-dimensional screen on the board

 

You’re someone who can barely see us
Close yet so far away.
We hope our writing made up for the struggles that come with the use of technology.

 

We hope your experience in our class was comparable to your time in Cuba to Clinton
Italy to New Haven
From flash fiction to poetry 

From writing, painting, sculptures, and photography.
With these gifts, we create new life that flows across the page, 

We open up about our lives,
We learned that writing doesn’t need a strategic process; Just an idea that is created from our own thoughts. Telling stories of our pets,
Confrontations with bigots,
Our dreams,
Our origins,
And our nostalgia. 

A light that lasts a while, You’re here, our candle, 

 

You brighten our world, You give us a purpose, You give us motivation, And open our imaginations. 

The darkness is still there,
A little block here and there,
But together we get somewhere. As we get further,
Your time comes near,


The light may disappear,
But the candle holds its memories, And we shall write our stories,
As the candle and the lighter. 

Thank you, for getting us somewhere. 

-The Morgan School Creative Writing, Period: C, 2021 

CT 169 Club by Martin Podskoch

Available through me, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon. Below is one of my articles appearing in newspapers and in the travel book, CT 169 Club, with a twist of getting to know your Connecticut neighbors. See homepage for more information or contact me to purchase the book. See events and exhibits page for upcoming signings. Below is the article from the book, it has been appearing in many travel sections of regional newspapers.

Clinton Ct 169 Club 2-16-19.jpg
Summer Sandals
Published in Spring 2019 New Authors Journal

 

An excerpt from Summer Sandals, read the whole story in the Summer 2019 New Authors Journal. Available on Amazon.

 

Fast forward to the Fourth of July 1993. I was at a barbecue given by some Bosnian refugees I had helped to resettle in the US the previous year. As i looked around, I noticed I was the only social worker that was part of their resettlement team who was there. In fact, I was the only American.

 

I wriggled my toes in the grass and thought about freedom. and the choices people have to make for that very privilege. I thought of the refugee in my own soul. Hadn’t I left everything familiar for the freedom to choose a better life?

 

just a year ago, I had to explain what fireworks were to two refugees after they dived down to the ground and covered their heads in he middle of the street thinking they were being bombed. Their war wounds were not yet healed, and the fireworks scraped away at their still fresh battle scars.

 

A year later, and they themselves are celebrating the fourth of July; their new American holiday. They are celebrating freedom as United States citizens.  This one year grant position to re-settle refugees was some of the most gratifying work I would ever do. Many people who sought my counsel were not interested in taking it. However, these refugees ate up every bit of advice I gave them. They wanted freedom and to have a better life, and saw my guidance as part of a means t that end. 

 

Soon through them revelations about my life, the summer of  1971, and my struggle to be free from my past became clearer. I too left everything familiar so long ago to create the life I wanted. To become free from the limits of my past was the gift that now helped me relate to their current circumstances.

 

I never was really aware of the pain and suffering in the world outside my own life. Yes, I watched the TV news and read the newspaper. Yes, I cared about all of it, but it was far removed from my daily life. Nestled snuggly into my Connecticut shoreline home when I took the job, I never knew how close to the world and its suffering I would become. Yet, at the same time, I realized how far I had traveled  away from my own suffering.

 

When I took the job, I thought, “I’ll sign them up for English as a second language classes, fill out food stamp applications, get them apartments, find them jobs. Yes, I did all those routine things, but not before I learned of their torture and pain. I prided myself on being strong, but when I would pick these clients up at the airport, some who were bloodied and beaten, I realized what strength really was. Some were recently raped, or had seen their family members shot in front of their eyes, and some were malnourished near death. I realized I was a very small fish in a big pond of survival techniques. Telling me their story was necessary to heal. It was a gift to listen and be a part of something bigger than myself. I was a stepping stone on their journey, just like Margaret was in mine.

 

A year later and they were celebrating Independence Day. They had jobs, Spoke English, and some even had cars. They were smiling and proud. They were shaking my hand, telling me how grateful they were. They are no longer afraid of fireworks.

 

I thought that I should thank them. Through them I realized I too had been a refugee. I left my family, friends, and familiar surroundings to start a better life. Years later, there I was trying to help others do the same.

 

Sometimes I think of them, the refugees I met, and wonder if they are still doing well. I wonder if telling their stories helped them be free, or if the past still haunts them.

 

I write this knowing we have a world full of terrorists and full of wars. I wonder what crosses people around the world, including my children will have to bear. I hope they find a way to tell their stories, to have their stories lift them to freedom. I hope they eat some ice cream, and wriggle their toes in summer sandals on a Fourth of july as they watch fireworks. 

Cathy's Cottage Cookbook by Cathy Weiss

Easy recipes for a casual and healthy lifestyle. Contact me for copies or see events and exhibits page for upcoming signings. Here's one of my spring favorites:

White Bean and Artichoke Salad

9­10 oz can artichoke hearts
1 small red onion, sliced thin
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped green pepper (be sure

to remove bitter white pith)
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp. fresh chopped basil
1 lb can cannelini or small white

beans, rinsed and drained

4 whole tomatoes seeded and chopped, or sliced thin (depending on tomatoes use use) You can halve cherry tomatoes as well

for dressing
3 T. olive oil
2 tsp. white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
pinch of salt and pepper to taste

Prepare salad ingredients and place in bowl. Mix dressing ingredients and pour over salad. Let sit for ten minutes to meld flavors.

Personal Notes: This can be made ahead for dinner. It travels well as a picnic or pot luck take along! Once I made an elaborate picnic for an outdoor concert date, I made this, the marinated mushroom recipe, Uncle Mikes olive recipe, a hunk of cheese, and some some crusty bread. Another couple was passing by and the husband said" why don't you ever make me a nice picnic like this". Little did he know how easy these cottage make ahead recipes, combined with some simple store bought ingredients can be so elegant!