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Joan Gelfand
Joan’s poetry, fiction, reviews, essays and letters have appeared in national and international anthologies and literary journals including Rattle, Kalliope, The Toronto Quarterly, The Huffington Post, The New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, the newversenews, and The MacGuffin. Joan teaches for Poetry Inside Out and is the Immediate Past President of the Women’s National Book Association. Her books are "The Long Blue Room," “A Dreamer’s Guide to Cities and Streams” (San Francisco Bay Press, 2009); “Here & Abroad,” a chapbook of short fiction (winner of the 2010 Cervena Barva Fiction Award); and “Seeking Center” (Two Bridges Press, 2006). “Transported,” a spoken-word CD with original music, can be found on iTunes and at To learn more about Joan, visit

Entries by Joan Gelfand

"That Killer Instinct"

(0) Comments | Posted January 19, 2016 | 12:12 PM

Inspired by a stellar review in the New Yorker of David O. Russell's new movie, "Joy," I headed out for the theater. The script, the New Yorker's (unnamed) film critic reported, "captures the magical moment when Joy's private inspiration finds public expression," and, "the core of the film is Joy's...

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"I Need A Miracle: Two Generations of Deadheads Find Peace"

(3) Comments | Posted June 26, 2015 | 1:15 PM

It's 20 years since I've been to a Dead show. But on the eve of the Dead's reunion tour, it's time to come out.

This summer, Dead members Phil, Bob, Bill, Mickey and Bruce, practiced and prepared with Jeff and Trent (a (tie) dyed in the wool younger Jerry) to...

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Delivering the Good Goods: Poets Go Big

(1) Comments | Posted April 10, 2015 | 2:24 PM

There's a lot to celebrate for National Poetry Month this year. The Poetry Foundation is busy supporting young poets, mature poets and emerging poets with honors and fellowships and a stunning, ever expanding list of awards, poetry slams and competitions have given poetry and spoken word cache. The word on...

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Spring Wine, Food and Activity Tour in Paso

(4) Comments | Posted March 18, 2015 | 1:04 PM

Co-authored with Deborah Grossman, wine and food writer

From a few vineyards just under a hundred years ago, Paso (the locals name for Paso Robles) has become the Napa Valley of Southern California - boasting over 200 bottlers. In 2013, Paso was voted Wine Region of the Year and now...

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Dirty Dancing Childhoods and a Reunion

(1) Comments | Posted August 25, 2014 | 5:43 PM

Jacoby's resort flourished in the Catskill mountains in the aftermath of WWII. In the flush of the '50s, Jacoby's had a loyal following of newly successful families eager to escape the heat of the city, enjoy costume balls, long-running mah-jong and card games on shady lawns. Bungalow Colonies provided a...

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Making the Most of Jazz Fest

(1) Comments | Posted March 24, 2014 | 4:19 PM

Jazz Fest 2014 has recently announced the 2014 lineup. Rest assured, the well-rounded New Orleans Jazz Heritage Society has programmed something for everyone.

Headliners include Bruce Springsteen, Chaka Kahn, Branford Marsalis, Phish, Eric Clapton, Santana and Aaron Neville. Dozens of additional nationally known and local New Orleans...

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'Quartered'/Weapons of Mass Distraction

(2) Comments | Posted December 13, 2013 | 3:27 PM



Fifteen minutes to read the morning news
Fifteen minutes to listen -- oh! To listen! To Massanet.
Fifteen minutes to transform under steamy stream of shower
Fifteen minutes to talk to my daughter.

Into pieces life divided
Cut up sliced...

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Walk It Out: Wild and My Pilgrim's Heart

(0) Comments | Posted October 28, 2013 | 3:15 PM

"All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking." -- Friedrich Nietzsche

"Pilgrimage -- this is beyond walking. This is walking with the intention of searching the soul." -- Stephanie Dale, My Pilgrim's Heart

"Suffering becomes beautiful when anyone bears great calamities with cheerfulness, not through insensibility but through greatness of...

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(0) Comments | Posted July 8, 2013 | 3:01 PM

When faced with a blank sheet of paper, ordinary people cringe. When faced with a writing assignment, normal people would rather go to the dentist. When contemplating a full day week of writing, or a deadline, many writers would rather run errands and do the laundry. But there is a...

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Immigration: A Kid's-Eye View

(3) Comments | Posted February 18, 2013 | 7:14 PM

Emily Klion, director of the Marsh Youth Theater in San Francisco, wanted to tell the stories of the "dreamers," children caught in the battle over immigration. To help her tackle this thorny topic, she approached award-winning poet Gary Soto. The son of Mexican immigrants, Soto grew up in Fresno, Calif....

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Mexico, Safety And Other Questions Of Travel

(16) Comments | Posted April 5, 2012 | 8:00 AM

The news this past week has been fraught with questions about travel and safety. Rick Santorum took a pot shot, implying that President Obama is an irresponsible parent for allowing his daughter to travel to Mexico (with 25 security guards and her school) in light of the State Department warning...

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The Sugar Zone Is Bittersweet

(1) Comments | Posted November 29, 2011 | 1:17 PM

It is difficult to resist the temptation to compare, if not the style of poems, then simply the location of Mary Mackey's The Sugar Zone to Elizabeth Bishop's series, Questions of Travel, written during her fifteen years in Brazil.

From Bishop's The Riverman:

They gave me a shell of...
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The Political Is Very, Very Personal

(0) Comments | Posted September 29, 2011 | 4:04 PM

Elizabeth Rosner's Novels

Much research, science and love has been devoted to the enterprise of solving the problem of intergenerational resentment. There are therapy groups for children of Nazis and Holocaust survivors as well as for other historically antagonistic groups. The work is ever evolving, and ever critical; 70 years...

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Conversation With a Bad Girl

(3) Comments | Posted August 17, 2011 | 6:47 PM

By her own admission, Ellen Sussman has always been bad. But how exactly does 'bad' play out when one is a mother, a wife, and of 'a certain age'? Through art, of course.

In Bad Girls: 26 Writers Misbehave Ellen shared the story of ripping her clothes off to jump...

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Paris Is So Yesterday

(27) Comments | Posted June 30, 2011 | 2:00 PM

Midnight In Paris, Woody Allen's latest movie, romanticizes the City of Light to the point of nostalgia. This is not the Paris of the 3rd millennium, but the Paris of every writer's dream.

Paris is a gem. The film opens with perfect vistas; a golden lit Pont Neuf, Bateau Mouches...

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Mother's Day Without Mom

(83) Comments | Posted May 3, 2011 | 10:28 AM

Six weeks after my mother passed away I was scheduled for a lodge-to-lodge hiking trip through the Rogue River Wilderness in Southern Oregon with five women friends. As our departure date neared, I began equivocating. I was tired, and grieving, but the truth was, I was scared: what would my...

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Women's National Book Association to Launch Reading Group Month

(2) Comments | Posted October 17, 2009 | 11:07 AM

About a year ago, I caught book group fever. An avid reader, I had never been part of a book group. I listened wistfully to friends' recounting of lively conversations over shared meals, envying the breadth of titles discussed by readers expert in a wide variety of subjects. It was...

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