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Background: Barnyard Poems




I was a backyard farmer for 8 years, raising goats, ducks and hens, both for the joy of that interraction, and for food. The work in  A Woman Milking,  WORD PRESS, 2006 ($15) uses life in my barnyard as metaphor for human conflict and closeness.

     Critical Acclaim for A WOMAN MILKING:

---"Slatkin's poems, eloquent depictions of the human-animal dynamic, remind us of our own desires, fears, and mortality. Each poems is a  serious and significant vignette--revelatory  moments cultivated by the poet's empathy and imagination."  Mindy Kronenberg, Editor, BookMark Quarterly Review; Author, Dismantling the Playground.

---"These poems evoke emotions ranging from devastatiing pathos to unexpectedly buoyant humor. The rhythms of the tests easily lend themselves to musical expression and it was a joy for me to set six of them to music."  Marga Richter, Composer, QHANRI: Tibbetan Variations for cello and piano.

---"Marcia Slatkin sees life as a parade of small miracles. With skill, she maintains a sense of wonder both at moments large and small. So she celebrates the child in all of us."  Dan Moran, Poet, Looking for the Uncertain Past; Poet Laureate Suffolk County.

---"Using fresh, invigorating language, these poems are unsentimental but full of feeling, pictorial as well as highly textured, the voice fearless, but compassionate. Slatkin is sustained by her barnyard, yet is not afraid to take us with her as she sustains the animals through their own passages: birthing and loss, the fierce coupling of buck and doe, the sad atrophy of old age, the painful ambivalence of slaughter, and, yes, the indignity of being eaten."  Myriam Chapman, Author, Why She Married Him.

---"Slatkin succeeds in creating poetry not of self or other, or pleasure or pain, but of self and other and pleasure and pain crystallized together in the same brief poetic form, sometimes in the same moment. This is the a kind of truth not brought to the page often enough, and here lies the core of Slatkin's achievement." Charles Holdefer,   Author, Apology for Big Rod.

from A Woman Milking:

     What The Stars Are

The buck chased her,
his fullness toward her tail.
When she would not stay,
he reared, hit the sharp
yard rail, and sprayed.

The man in the moon
was like that.

In the dark,
he pawed the earth's
soft waist. His fingers
clawed beneath her clouds.

And when she turned away,
he arched his back

and sprayed
the night with stars.


                                                        * * * * * * * * * *

I KIDNAP MY MOTHER  -- Finishing Line Press, 2005

     The four-years spent as care-giver to my mother, an Alzheimer patient, fueled poems both about the ramifications of illness, and the use of time together as an opportunity for reconciliation, healing, closeness. Twenty-six of these poems have been collected and publised in the chapbook I Kidnap My Mother, Finishing Line Press, 2005 ($12).

        Acclaim for I Kidnap My Mother:

---"Each page is a small, lush painting, as if the poet circled her mother, illuminating both declime, and triumphs within that decline, with precisions and acceptance. Cortney Davis, Authr, Leopold's Maneuvers.

---"With unflinching observation, slatkin allows herself honesty mixed with tenderness, a triumph over pathos."  Claire Nicolas White, Author: Death of the Orange Trees.

---"The poems, replete with eye-opening images, are warm and strong as the mother-child bond: beauty trapped and held in clean language."
Adele Glimm, author: Elizabeth Blackwell, Woman Doctor.

     from I Kidnap My Mother


Amid a maze
of age spots, raised
as gravel, walnut hued
and jagged in shape,

my mother's breasts
emerge, still pink,
unscarred though fallen,
guileless on a sheet
of rippled skin.

And after donning
bra and snapping
straps in place,
she gathers them up
     like scooping pliant
     honey with a spoon,
     or shaping dough
     to buns that fit a pan --

and rests obedient lobes
in waiting slings slowly,
cradling each with vein-rich,
careful hands.





  NOT YET: A Care-Giving Collage, Alzheimer's Poems  

or  A Healing Journey through Alzheimer's Care-Giving --

 SFA PRESS, Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, Texas.  125pg. 2012

 These poems illuminate the possibillity of forgiveness through daily contact. As I took care of my ailing mother I discovered a woman who beneath her anxiety and dementia was zany, intelligent and deeply  loving.  The pain of my tortured youth was transformed, as a potter shapes clay, into love. 


                         Appreciation for NOT YET 

 ---With keen intelligence, with curiosity and flashes of humor, with an eye for sensual detail, Marcia Slatkin takes both the 'angst and muse' of her subject, and frames them into art. The poems are unflinching, compassionate, moving. This is a powerful book."  Carin Clevidence, novelist, The House on Salt Hay Road.

---" 'The deepest tales stay etched...' the poet says, sharing the pain and pleasure of caring for an aging mother. These intimate, graceful dramas, minimalist yet resonant, share the joy, astonishment and rage of watching a loved one hover between past and present. Slatkin's strength is in the bringing of both luminosity and humor to a great challenge. She is, as both daughter and poet, affectionate, obstinate, persistent, and brave."  Mindy Kronenberg, Editor Book/Mark Quarterly Review, author Dismantling the Playground.  

---"The poems are honest,raw, close to the heart. They will speak to, console and inspire you about the brutal, heart-rending realities and rewards of caring for someone with Alzheimers."  Phillip Levine, Poetry Editor, Chronogram. 

---"Many 'boomers,' in youth rejecting of their parent's values, ultimately take care of these parents in their final years. So NOT YET is both an anthem for a generation, and a critical addition to the new literature about Alzheimer's Disease."   Tom Lombardo, Editor, After SHocks:  The Poetry of Recovery.

-"In luminous lines, each page a small, lush painting, Slatkin's work respects the person within the patient, forgives the sins of the past, sees the possibility for wholeness within diminishment, and finds the 'peace of closeness' in any moment of intimacy. Every caregiver, every family member, every poet should read these poems. Those who do will be humbled and changed." Cortney Davis, poet, Body Flute,  Details of Flesh;  Leopold's Maneuvers

--"An unflinching observer, Slatkin allows herself honesty mixed with tenderness, a triumh over pathos."  Claire Nicolas White, author,   Death of the Orange Trees. editor, Oberon Poetry Review. 

--"This insightful book carefully preserves the humanity and basic dignity of both caregivers and those diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. The poems come alive, and their wide range of emotions will both touch your heart, and offer hope and encouragement."   

Ethel M. Thomas, Qualified Dementia Care Specialist.



Please scroll down for sample poems from NOT YET: A Healing Journey through Alzheimer's Care-Giving.


                      A Late Blessing 

 I wake her with touch,

rubbing her shoulders, 

  saying the time


With a hug, I bend

toward the arc

of her chest. My arms

encircle, my side

hugs her length. 


Near the sink,

I reach for hte kettle

by nudging her cheek

with my forehead.

I snuggle, then smile

at her squeal.


Despite her greased face

at sleeptime, I kiss her,

wish her good dreams.


This is the mother I battled

when young, the mother

who beat my defiance;

the one I hit back. 


While we walk now,

she proffers her hand,

its gnarled back spotted --

but its guileless palm

soft as a persimmon,

trusting as a child.   




      Not Yet 


You might think

I would have rid myself

of that old myth. The dead

are gone, beyond reach

or calling. But when,

ill for days, my mother

rises, looks at me

and calmly says, “It’s time

to find my husband,”  the ice

that sometimes gathers near my heart

melts, flows over, floods. “We


don’t know exactly where he is,”

she says, her voice

a luminous string

to which she clings

as she starts to tread

some fathomless bridge

that leads beyond my tears.


My caress pleads

with her eyes, now

grave, bright, and caught

in what seems

a moment of ultimate

seeing.  Then I sculpt

my sobs to words,

and cast a net


that hauls her back, back--


promising she will of course

find him --- just

not yet.   


Reactions to "CHEESE AFTER FUKUSHIMA:  Poems for a Changing Planet." to be published by sfapress, Texas, autumn 2017.


---"In Cheese After Fukushima,” Slatkin shows an impressive breadth of vision, and engages with the world in urgent fashion."

                                                                                                                  Charles Holdefer, Univ. Poitiers, France.

---"Minimalist, musical and boldly imaginative. As many poems are  rooted in actual happening, this is a text for truth-teaching about climate now."   

                                                                                                                  Barbara Sarah, LCSW, Kingston NY 

-----These compelling poems dramatize climate change in lucid and urgent voices. Intense, wide-ranging, passionate.  

                                                                                                                   Alice Elman, Prof. Humanities, Suffolk Community College 

---- Marcia Slatkin's poetry expresses profound empathy for all Earth’s progeny. Hers is a powerful voice of sanity, morality, loss, and hope.

                                                                                                                   Judith Ahrens, PhD, Integrated Systems Specialist, Peace Core volunteer

---- Slatkin’s work expands our perceptions into realms many seem unwilling to see or to protest. The volume addresses our possible disdain for, and

     ignorance about, our actual situation.                                                        Douglas Kramer, Human Rights Lawyer, Environmentalist, Dutchess Co.




Immobile, my form

was powerfully fixed

in what they call Greenland,

my sheets for centuries

stacked within an ocean

cold enough to keep my ice

intact. I was content.

My massive presence

ruled the height

of waves, and trapped

excess, a glassy girdle

cinching seas. 

Now, heat from a savage sun

attacks me. Huge chunks

of what I feel as body,

and weighing a billion tons,

shear off and slide into the deep.

I am disfigured. I melt

and drown at once,

the ocean rising round

a self no longer strong enough

to tame its height. If I die,


my power dissolving

into liquid surge,

the sea will rise twenty feet.

Submerged, my wave-capped corpse

will spread, swirl past, seep through,

and flood all low-lying land.


The creatures with the fleshy

legs and chests, with hair

and anxious, beating hearts

will flee my reach.

In death,

I will be everywhere.        


FICTION: Moving Stills -Story collection (8 of the 34 stories were published in small journals)

   "Play the game, get ahead, be realistic," says Shirley, the strong-willed, controlling yet fiercely loving mother who draws the contours that her daughter Paula must explode and erase in her quest for identity.
    Years pass, roles are reversed, and Paula becomes caregiver to the mother she so fought in youth. What growth will allow understanding and forgiveness? And how will this enable Paula to both accept and nurture new love?  

   "One of the most impressive qualities of this novel is the way Slatkin avoids plot contrivance while writing one eye-opening, unpredictable section after another. And Slatkin's writing is as agile as her imagination. A man who lives with her, unable to either work on his stalled book or share household expenses, seems  'coddled in this household, immersed in cream. Paula has come to see the book as a hungry animal, curled in Nick's chest, sucking.' "
   Adele Glimm, author,  Elizabeth Blackwell, Woman Doctor.   


    Set in a frenetic time/place, where parental illness, anxiety and ambition form a toxic family brew which Paula must navigate, the novel both shows the toll this bath bestows, and the unwinding, strand by strand, of the unhappy tangle it created.  Of course there are siblings, her own children, intense relationships, and Paula's own self-dramatizing idiosyncracies that cause pain even as she tries to heal. But by novel’s end, she understands, can forgive, and can love.   2014




UPSIDE DOWN:   Full Length Play.
    When our world turned upside down during the 9/11 attacks, conflicts arose between people whose reactions, assessments and coping devices differed. Can one refuse to question, to imagine ramifications? Do parental politics play a role in  our present reactions? Indeed, do past parental conflicts influence our choice of a mate? In times of political crisis and impending war, do we have the luxury of "cultivating a personal garden," or is it a moral issue that we take a stand and work for what we believe is just?    

     Come and live in NYC during this fearsome time with JOEL, photojournalist who lost one eye in Desert Storm, Iraq;  the young artist EMMA, who comes to love him;  her former boyfriend DAVID, Israeli-born securities trader whose sister died in the 2001 WTC attack;  the zany, sensitive jamaican ZAK, a voice crying in the wilderness, Emma's friend JOANN, who becomes Zak's sweetie and learns to cook Jamaican hot -- and MRS FU, who has to deal with unclaimmed bundles of clothes found in her laundry just north of the WTC!

UPSIDE DOWN   won a staged reading at the Long Beach Playhouse, California, Summer 2010.

 It was directed by Tony White and given staged readings at Studio 353, W. 48 St, NYC, in September 2011.  

                                              Reaction to the play 

***  "Marcia, I cannot get your play out of mind.  Upside Down  brought up important  and complex  aspects of life that we are all dealing with. And, you found a way to personalize those issues by means of your characters.


    Your play is a tremendous achievement that tackles the big questions of our lives, as individuals, as a nation. Those questions include how to live our lives responsibly to ourselves, to each other, and to the world at large.  And, you brought out how important art is in the equation, and how the pull to create can be stronger than the desire for remediation, even if one knows about injustice in society.

    Thank you  for what you worked so hard to present to your audience.  Brava, Marcia!"
                                                            from  an email by Miriam Bloom, Environmental Activist

***"Upside Down" is "Right Side Up"!!!! I am so happy to have attended this wonderful reading. Despite pain and suffering we need to find and hold on to things of beauty.  It gives all of us hope so that we may carry on with our lives.The timing was perfect since it is the 10th anniversay of 9/11.

                                                      by June E Bade, Artist / Designer, CW Post 

***Now, 10 years post 9/11, as our country seemingly has lost its way, Marcia Slatkin gives us a full length play which leads the audience through the complex issues involved in that event. She takes us “where angels fear to tread” with characters who have radically different reactions to the attacks and the buildup toward war with Iraq .  Yin pulls and pushes yang in this fast-paced drama. By the end, with no one right and no one wrong, the audience leaves feeling that they can more effectively respond to the enorrmities of the past decade."
                                                              from an e mail by Lucy Burrows, ND, Long Island. 
*** "This is a coming of age drama where a young, passionate, and artistic woman struggles to define herself and seek meaning and  fulfillment in the context of her romantic relationships with two very different kinds of men-- one offers her material security and the other offers a life committed to fighting injustice in the world.  This play is compelling to watch for anyone who has searched to find a balance between art and politics in one's life."
                                                       Alice Elman, professor Comparative Literature and Myth, Suffolk Com. College
***"Upside Down was a fascinating and thought provoking narrative that challenged the audience to consider their personal reactions to September 11th and its aftermath.  We felt connected to many of the characters as they struggled to make sense of their personal relationships and their connection to the outside world.  Best of all, the play felt very real in its character development and its final messages.
                                                      Talya Smilowitz, Soprano, and Daniel Morris, Physician Montefiore Hospital, NY 
**** Upside Down Gives Rightside Up Vision of Life
 9/11 was devastating for America in general and New Yorkers in particular. Marcia Slatkin's play Upside Down depicts the lives of New Yorkers from 9/10/2001 through 9/11/2002.  While 9/11 is important in the characters' lives, in part because it initially brings them together, it is how the characters then relate to one another that becomes the heart of play.  Parents and children, lovers, former lovers, brother and sister, the living and the dead are at the core of the drama.  Realistic characters struggle with grief, broken hearts and old injuries in the middle of world changing events while trying to survive the everyday issues during the year after the towers fell.  It is the love, the anger, the suspicion that make the play a memorable drama.  
   Given a well-rehearsed staged reading in a small rehearsal space in midtown Manhattan, the actors give life to the characters and their emotions.  Under the deft direction of Tony White, the cast captures the lives of ordinary New Yorkers facing ordinary problems like ending a romance and extraordinary ones like what to do with the laundry of those killed in 9/11.  The settings moved believably from an apartment to a health-food store cafe and back again with few props.  
     The play is timeless partially because it is so human, but also because it asks timeless questions. Some of those questions: To what degree should we be responsible to our fellow human beings?  How much do we ask of ourselves, and how much of those who rely on us?  We can sacrifice ourselves, but how much are those who love us required to sacrifice for our beliefs?  The recent Occupy Wall Street movement lends additional resonance to this aspect of the play,  transforming another of the questions the play raises from interesting to immediate. How can we gage the benefits that will come of our political efforts? And finally, when is political activism more painful to those we love than helpful to those in trouble?
                                          Pat Morahan, Editor The Portal, Port Jefferson Station RTA, Long Island NY


MEMORY:  FUll Length Play 

    "Memory" is a dramatization of not only the traumas Alzheimer's disease brings to a family, but the miraculous if temporary happiness that can be reached through spunk, caring, and chemistry. ... Here we find the turmoil and humor perhaps typical of a Jewish family's reaction to illness in the early 21st century. And in it, we see the triumph of a passionate and vividly determined old lady" 
                                                                           BKLYNHEIGHTS Courier, March 2 2007

--Can a grown daughter navigate between her own needs, those of her husband, and those of her aged mother, newly diagnosed with Alzheimer Disease?
--Will an 85 year old widow with more than a touch of dementia enjoy romance and relationship with a man she met at her senior center?
-=- What choppy currents make care-giving our aged parents both difficult -- and exhilarating?

                                                                      plus .....35 One-Act plays and two screen plays,






ONE-ACTS, Full Lengths, and Screen Plays

HOME FRONT,  aka  MACHETE  -- screenplay

Logline:  Joyce tries heroically to protect her family after her teenaged daughter Iris begins to date an unstable veteran. Joe, paranoid and not getting the medical attention he needs, becomes increasingly menacing.  "They bring the war home with them," Joyce sayd, "and no one is safe."  Set in the US during the Sandinista - Contra conflict, 1983,  a tragi-comic political subplot helps braid the script to its brutal conclusion.