Thursday, October 18, 2018

Pounding Cobblestones by Barbara Krasner

Isn't it wonderful that Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales is hosting Poetry Friday this week? If you haven't caught her series of fall flower photographs paired with short verse, you're in for a treat when you visit. She's amazing with how close she can get to the heart of a flower or meaning.

A couple years ago, I had the opportunity to attend a Highlights Workshop. It was wonderful. The author-leaders, Alma Fullerton and Kathy Erskine, were (and still are) fun and encouraging and super good writers. I got a jolt of energy and encouragement that has sustained me since.

I also met Barbara Krasner, an author, poet, teacher, student and world traveler. I really learned a lot  about her writing process and what brings her to her writing projects.

Fast forward to today. I'm holding Barbara's chap book, Pounding Cobblestones, in my hands and really enjoying it.

I'm also reading her chap book with an ulterior motive. I think I just might have enough material to attempt a chap book and am seeking mentor texts. 

I had a chance to ask Barbara a little bit about Pounding Cobblestones. Here's what I learned:

Linda: Cobblestones show up in almost every poem. What do they represent for you now that Pounding Cobblestones is finished and out in the world?

Barbara: On my first day in Prague, I was struck by the beauty of the wet cobblestone (cover photo). I could hear rumblings along the cobblestone near Charles University and that immediately brought me back in time to an earlier age. At Terezin, a hole in the asphalt revealed cobblestone.

Linda: Tell us about revision...

Barbara: I wanted to create a poetic narrative of my month in the Czech Republic and how it affected me. There were certainly poems cut from the collection and new ones that had to be added to flesh out the narrative frame. I revise poems based on feedback from a mentor and my own judgment about words/lines not working.

Linda: Do you creatively cross-train? What other creative activities do you engage in to keep your poetry sharp and fresh?

Barbara: I write fiction, nonfiction and poetry for adults and young readers. I think writing poetry informs my work particularly in nonfiction, for instance, to find the right simile or metaphor, the right imagery for an emotional response.

Linda: What's next for you? Where else can I find your work?

Barbara: I have a number of projects in the queue with my agent. I hope to write a new children's picture book in sonnets over my winter break and to revise a middle-grade biography over the summer. You can find my work at Typehouse, a Jewish Literary Journal, Gravel and elsewhere. Many of my works are listed on my website at


  1. Thanks for sharing these intriguing snippets from Barbara Krasner's chapbook. I love, "The guitar drops its chords into my bloodstream..." How exciting that you're thinking of attempting your own chap book! As always, you're an inspiration!

  2. I've never tried making a chap book before, what an interesting new challenge to take on!

    1. For me, step one is learning what the devil one is! My understanding thus far is that a chap book is poetry by poets for other poets who are serious about poetry. 20-50 Poems are collected into a theme. Academic presses publish them. Soooooooo, for me a big question is why can't a chap book be for YA? I'm sort of on a search for a hybrid...or a way to successfully make one.

  3. Barbara's work is deep and needs several reads. I like how you combined the snippets with interview questions. I am delighted that you are starting on your own journey, Linda. Best of luck.

  4. Thanks for giving us a glimpse into Barbara's work - and the magic of Prague! Can't wait to see what you come up with for your own chapbook.

  5. I am in the middle of reading another nf book about the Holocaust, this time that does touch on the history of the Czech peoples, and now here are these lovely words from Barbara's chapbook and her own experience. That first part about the Golem is frightening. Best wishes for following this new path to a chapbook, Linda. One for YA sounds wonderful. I would have loved it in the classroom. Thanks for sharing about this new work.

  6. Dear Linda. Appreciations for your article about Barbara's new one. I too enjoyed meeting her (& you & Kathy E. & Alma F & Padma V. all the creative others) during that writing spark time in the Highlights woods. I have read Barbara's picture book, GOLDIE TAKES A STAND many times as a school volunteer. I bought her Finishing Line Press poetry chapbook & am grateful now for this intro to the Kelsey Books chapbook. I appreciate Barabra's family & life story, her prolific work ethic & the imagery of her writing. I agree with Carol that her work is deep & deserves several re-readings. More thanks to you.

  7. KELSAY... not Kelsey... visited by spell wrecker (:

  8. My favorite question: do you creatively cross-train? :) So that's what it's called.... :) I love it. And these cobblestones from the chapbook are lovely. Congratulations to Barbara!

  9. Loved the excerpts from Barbara's chapbook (and excited to hear you're planning one of your own!). Great questions -- I love the creative crosstraining one most too. :)

  10. Thanks for these excerpts--they are wonderful (and what a terrific way to remember a trip! I try to keep a journal when we travel, but these poems bring so much more depth.) Good luck with your chapbook plans.

  11. Such a rich post Linda, thanks for introducing me to Barbara Krasner, I definitely want to read more of her writing and especially "Pounding the Cobblestones." I like the words you picked out of hers, especially "two Czechs in a pod" and "magic of the kabbalah." Good luck with your chap book too!

  12. I just got Barbara's book myself and love the imagery. Great interview!

  13. Whenever I think of Prague, I imagine cobblestones. Thanks for doing this interview - so insightful!

  14. Thank you for introducing Barbara to me. Those snippets you shared from her chapbook are quite tantalizing...they make me want to read more and to visit Prague!

  15. It's fascinating to see how Barbara developed her poetic sketches from Prague into a series of poems. I like seeing the Jewish words (davening) and traditions (leaving a stone on a grave) woven into the poems.


Friendly, positive comments and feedback are always welcome here. Please let me know I'm not just whistling in the dark!