This award was established in memory of Miriam Chaikin, a longtime Westbeth resident and prolific writer. Born in Palestine, Chaikin grew up in Brooklyn, and her childhood memories and life in a close-knit Jewish community are all themes represented in her writing. She worked earlier in her career as an editor of literature for young people, and most of her books are intended for children and youth. Her works include lushly illustrated retellings of Old Testament lessons, humorous stories of the misadventures of “Molly and Yossi” (based on her childhood and that of her beloved younger brother Joseph), and collections of poetry. The last two books she completed were for adults – Jewish Wisdom for Daily Life, and Jerusalem: An Informal Autobiography of the City. For Miriam/Molly/Chickie as she was known, the written word and the book were essential to her life and wellbeing.
In her memory we honor a member of the writing community, especially those who live in Westbeth. The first annual Chaikin award will be presented on April 12, 2017 to two winners whose works resonated with the review panel – Carol Hebald and Christina Maile. Both writers captured our imaginations with very human stories, both with works set in exotic locales fraught with complex political and religious tensions.
Carol Hebald’s new book, A Warsaw Chronicle, is based on her experiences as a visiting academic in Warsaw at a time of great upheaval, as Poland experienced the imposition of martial law and threat of Soviet invasion due to the growing power of the Solidarity movement. In this politically-charged context, the American protagonist Karolina Heybald’s life becomes linked with her gifted student Marek, and complicated by her search for her long-lost Jewish relatives. The book will be published in March 2017.
Christina Maile submitted a series of short stories, half of which are in the manner of a memoire, while the others are set in Iran. Her characters are remarkably rich and developed for their presence on a few short pages, and her descriptions evoke all of the readers’ senses as she writes about a garden in an Iranian home, the texture of marshmallow fluff, the touch of scissors on hair during a haircut, or the sweetness of ripe fruit.
Carol and Christina will both read from their works at a celebration in the Westbeth Community Room on April 12th at 7 PM and all are invited to attend and share in their fine works.
Really I have gone from one thing to another. After studying Russian Medieval History in college, I co-founded the Westbeth Playwrights Feminist Collective, one of the first feminist theater groups in New York City – Wikipedia article. I became a landscape architect because I fell in love with drafting tools. Some of my designs were published in Landscape Architecture Magazine, among others. My essays on the philosophy of landscape appeared in the Canadian journal, On-Site.
On a vacation 20 years ago, I joined the Friday Night Painters, taught by Dan Rice, a second-generation abstract expressionist painter, and one of the finest painters I have ever known. His class met on Fridays. We are exhibiting at the Guilford Art Center in Connecticut in July 2017
I became a printmaker because there was a communal printmaking studio in Westbeth. In 2013, I received a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, and a Joan Mitchell Foundation Studio Grant. My print work is in the Elizabeth Sackler Collection of Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Musuem, NYC, as well as in various living rooms all over the USA.
Intermittently I have taken Karen Ludwig’s weekly writing workshops. She and the other workshop members – Diane Spodarek, Dawn DÁrcy, Joyce Aaron, Nancy Gabor, Shami Chaikin – are the most encouraging people a writer could ever have. Also pretty inspiring, are my writer friends Deb Lucke and Anja Murmann whose graphic novels and screenplays I am lucky enough to read ahead of everyone else.
That such an itinerant life would lead to this writing award from the Endowment points to the lives of Miriam and her family who were always ready to take a chance, and in so doing gave a lot of people a chance to be themselves.
I am never any good at readings. Still I will be giving one with Carol Hebald on April 12, 2017. She is truly a wonderful reader of her work. So if you come on the evening when we read, come to hear her. I might even ask her to read mine.
A former Teaching and Writing Fellow in fiction at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Carol Hebald received her MFA in 1971. Having taught creative writing at the university level for the next thirteen years, she resigned a tenured associate professorship in English at University of Kansas to write full time.
She has since published the novella collection, Three Blind Mice (Unicorn Press, 1989), the memoir, The Heart Too Long Suppressed (Northeastern University Press, 2001); and more recently four books of poetry: Delusion of Grandeur (2016), Colloquy (2015), Spinster by the Sea (2005), and Little Monologs (2004).
Co-winner with Christina Maile of the Miriam Chaikin Writing Award for her novel, A Warsaw Chronicle, forthcoming from Regal House Press on March 24th, she will be reading from it on Tuesday, March 28th at Cornelia Street Café at 6 p.m., and will share the podium with Christina at the Westbeth Community room on April 12th.
Carol is currently working on a play about Watergate heroine Martha Mitchell. Her website is: www.CarolHebald.com.