Hold It All

Month: April, 2016

Gratitude for Friday 29 April

In the course of this day
Being face to face with…
Joanie French
Hedy Epstein
Anna Piller
Patrick Cousins
Lena Salameh
Jeneane Salameh
Amaly Yossef
Aroona Toor
Imman Musa
Courtney Barrett
Andrea Scarpino
Justin Lorenz
Sherri DeRousse
Jessie Sarber
April Ulinski
Savannah Sisk
My cup runneth over


Give us this day, our daily poem
–Ale Vazquez

Today’s Gratitude

For Carolina Dominguez,
“exploding with joy,”
in Little Havana

Carolina Dominguez

Share the Wealth with Andrea Scarpino: What the Willow Said as It Fell

In time for National Poetry Month, Andrea Scarpino will do our next Share the Wealth  on her new book of poetry, What the Willow Said as It Fell.  Andrea shared with us in September 2014, and we are delighted for this opportunity to be with her again as she tours the country.

Here is a response to Andrea’s book by Philip Gross: “This brave and beautiful book is not simply writing about the body—the writer’s own—in chronic pain; it is a deep inhabiting of it, moving through it like a landscape, using all the resources of poetry to stay alert, still thinking, seeking and responding at the point where language generally breaks down. Andrea Scarpino faces not just the drama but the tedium of pain, and offers us no easy comfort; rather, there is both raw insight and surprising grace. The writing dissolves the usual boundaries, between prose and poetry, medical fact and mythical imagination and—like pain itself—between our individual bodies and the whole surrounding world.”

Join us!
FRIDAY 29 April
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 p.m.
Andrea begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of Courtney Barrett
6009 Westminster
St Louis MO


Andrea Scarpino is the author of the poetry collection Once, Then (Red Hen Press, 2014), and the chapbook The Grove Behind (Finishing Line Press, 2009). She received a PhD in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University, and an MFA from The Ohio State University. She serves as Poet Laureate of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (2015-2017) and has been published in numerous journals including The Cincinnati ReviewLos Angeles ReviewPANK, and Prairie Schooner. She lives in Marquette, MI.

Why Do You Sign off Your Letters to Me with ”Namaste Forever”?

Why do you sign off your letters to me
With ”Namaste Forever”?

I am simply reminding you
I recognize your brilliant light
(However far apart we are)
It is always there
(It is always here, to me)
I know it is always there
I celebrate that it is always there
I join my hands
To your brilliant light

Dear Layla: A Potluck, A Reading, and a Discussion in Chicago

Dear Chicago Friends,

I will be in town on Saturday 21 May for  a book reading and discussion of my recent novel Dear Layla Welcome to Palestine. Melissa Banerjee has kindly agreed to host us at her home: 745 N. Throop Street, Apartment #1, Chicago 60642.

We’ll begin with a potluck dinner at 6:30 p.m. At 7:30 we’ll take turns reading aloud a few of the short chapters, and discussing themes, issues, and questions. I’ll have copies available.

Dear Layla is the story of how a third-year medical student, Layla Espinoza, came to decide to take a year off and work in Gaza. Through a long letter sent to her by a former professor, she learns about compromismo, accompaniment, and staying human in and beyond Palestine from other characters like Ibtihaj, Carla Nguyen, Abu Ahmed, Shameeka Smith, Shahnawaz Awan, Safa Khalidi, Sharooq, Henry Nagler, Umm Safi, Sabine Laserstein, Neeta Gupta, Danesha Clark, Rob Renaud, Abu Razi, Barakat, Tanya Chatterjee, and Sophie Polyakova.

Actor Katie Consamus said this about her experience of the book: “I read Dear Layla on the long commute from Queens to Brooklyn, and the first thought I had was that I ought to pack a bag immediately and go to Palestine (expired passport be damned). I realized by the time I was back in Queens that the message was larger and louder and transcended far beyond that. And I cried. Bawled. Snot and all. I wept at the tragedy that is the world, and I wept at the hope I felt that change, everywhere and anywhere, might actually come, so long as people keep taking action and so long as writers like Mark Chmiel continue to illuminate.”

I’d love to reconnect with you  soon, either at Melissa’s or whenever you may be free.



Gaza Grad MKM Full

Gaza Graduation by Mary Kate MacIsaac

Saturday Share the Wealth with Jeneane and Lena Salameh: Stories of a Land That Lives Within Us

We will be sharing stories of living in the United States as Palestinians, experiences we have had in Palestine, and what the term Al-Nakba means to us. In sharing our stories we hope to spread the story of a land that lives within us.

Since we were young, we have been traveling back to Palestine. Lena lived in Palestine for about 3 years, and we have spent many summers in Jalazone refugee camp in the West Bank. Our family lost their home and country 68 years ago but we have not lost our hope to return to the town that many generations of our family have called home.

Lena, a graduate of Maryville University, will begin SLU Law School in August.  Jeneane is graduating with her Master’s in Accounting from SLU next month.

Join us SATURDAY 23 April
Potluck lunch begins at NOON
Lena and Jeneane begin sharing at 12:45
In Marguerite Hall
Campus of Saint Louis University


Salameh sisters

The Salameh Sisters

The Way It Looked in 1963

Our fatherland is temporarily divided in two. The US imperialists are intensifying their aggressive war in South Viet Nam. Our southern compatriots are being trampled upon by the brutal US-Diem regime. Not a day passes without the US-Diemists terrorizing, mopping up and killing people, burning down villages, spraying poisonous chemicals, destroying crops, forcing people into concentration camps, those hells on earth which they call “strategic hamlets.”

–Hồ Chí Minh

Share the Wealth with Alicia Trebus: Feeling Limitless in Limited Language Ability



Alicia Trebus has been working closely with English language learners for the past six years. Within a variety of contexts including university tutoring, a South American homestay, and U.S. Citizenship test prep, she has been mesmerized by the resiliency present particularly in immigrant and refugee populations. Her Share the Wealth will be woven together by the theme of tenacity, represented through vignettes of broken English, a 10-year-old Man of the House, and the frustratingly complex distinction between ‘long E’ and ‘short I.’

Alicia studied English at Maryville University and obtained a Master’s degree in Teaching English as a Second Language from Webster University. She will begin teaching courses for non-native speakers this Fall at STLCC – Meramec.

Join us Sunday 17 April
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 p.m.
Alicia begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of Christina Arrom
5389 Pershing Apt. D,  63112



In-Home Tutoring with the Immigrant and Refugee Women’s Program

On the Phone with Hedy

Even her detractors might agree:
Two of Hedy Epstein’s characteristics—
Pertinacity and indomitability

I’ll add a third and fourth
Tenderness and compassion
As when I called her from Ramallah

To explain why I was unable the day before
To pick up her and friends at Ben-Gurion Airport
After their long flight from Saint Louis

The IDF had detained me and friends for hours
Granting me the most infinitesimal taste
Of what Palestinians routinely undergo

Hedy took this in …
Then the tremulous softness in her voice as she asked
“Did … they … torture … you?”