About Me



Welcome to Elliott batTzedek’s brain online, a collection of my writing, my writing about writing, quotations from other people’s writing, and the occasional gift from the source of universal mystery and dark humor.

I’m a poet, critic, activist, teacher, gardener, a Jew of the Feminist, non-Zionist variety (there are more of us than you might think!), and a life-long collector of random interesting facts. You’ll find all of these in here somewhere. Promise.

I started this blog when I started an MFA in poetry at Drew University in January 2009. I’ve since finished that degree, and am working on Drew’s second track, an MFA in poetry in translation. You can find notes and thoughts on my translation project behind the “Translating Shez” tab on the menu at the top.

What else is here? Posts and poems are most easily accessed by searching the Tag field on the right and clicking on anything of interest. Along the tab menu at the top you’ll find sections on my craft essays and book reviews, a few bits of fiction, a selection of the liturgical pieces I’ve created, and the “Songs of Ascent,” an ongoing project of poems about mountaintop removal mining. In a box on the right, titled “Elliott’s writing online,” you’ll find links to poems and essays published or archived out there on the web somewhere.

I’ve finally opened a Performances page with video and audio clips from my readings. Enjoy it here

My blog, by happy accident, has also become the online home of information on lesbian writer Martha Courtot, who died in 2000. I am slowly posting some of her poems, and under them you’ll find commentary by members of Martha’s family and by long-time fans who have been searching for their favorite poems for years. If you love Martha’s work and are looking for a particular poem, drop me a note and I’ll try to find it for you.

If you stop by for a visit, drop a note so I know you were here!


22 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Dear Elliott,
    Trying to reach you and don’t have a good email for you. Could you please write to me so I can send a message regarding one of the students who will be taking your class on Contemporary Lit & Pub for Children this fall?
    Many thanks!
    Judith Rényi
    Dean SGPS
    Rosemont College

  2. Hi,

    I am taking your class this fall at Rosemont (I missed the first one) and would like to contact you before the second class on Tuesday so that I can try to catch up on any missed readings. Possible to shoot me an email?


  3. I left a comment here recently on a sappho poem that I’ve always loved. For some reason I thought of this blog tonight as I was retiring, and felt the need to share a couple links I found today:

    Orchids mimic alarm pheromones of bees to attract wasps

    The Asian giant hornet will slaughter an entire colony of bees without mercy, but if the scout is caught in a trap, the bees will cook it to death.

    On a completely different topic – you might be interested in some of what I’ve put forth here at petitionforredressofgrievances.org with regard to the right to define one’s own sexual identity as a fundamental form of human self-determination.

  4. hello elliott,
    i came across your ‘brain on line’ as i searched for a feminist translation of t’hillim. in addition to your originals, do you know of translations? i am a student at the interfaith seminary (or should we call it an ovularium?) in london and in march we will be focusing on judaism. i would like to explore t’hillim as part of my practice but want a woman-centered translation.

    i’m also a bit techno-impaired and can’t figure out how to get into the password protected parts of your site. can you provide any assistance.

    many thanks,

  5. How do I change my identifying name. I tried to post something to you on one page — but didn’t really mean to post my whole name!

  6. The identifying name is something you set up when you create your wordpress account. Sign in their and check your personal information.

  7. Hi Elliot, You’re site is great! I found your blog because I was searching for information on Drew University’s MFA program for poetry.

    How do you like the program? Are you satisfied with the mentorship program? Do you feel you get enough feedback and guidance? I’m looking for a program that pushes the poet so she can write her best poetry, and learns how to continue to progress after graduation.

    Thank you!


  8. Laura – I love the program at Drew! I’m just finishing my third semester – only one more to go, although I don’t want to leave, not at all.

    I’ve been writing, and publishing some, for years, and I can barely believe how far my writing has come since Jan 09. I’m a completely different kind of writer now – my voice is still very much mine, but I feel the start of actual mastery over choices about how to make language work for me. Or at least over how to plead with language to work with me!

    Drew is a poet’s poetry program, based deeply in a belief in writers’ voices and the possibilities that open up when craft is honed and honed more. The faculty is amazing, and growing as the program grows. And even though I’m not doing the translation track, I’ve learned so much about poetry and language from the lectures on translations. And my mentors have pushed me, hard, but always to strengthen my own voice, never to sound more like them.

    If you have more questions, just ask. The founder of the program is Anne Marie Maccari, who is passionate about teaching poetry and is an astounding poet herself, so I also encourage you to contact her and talk about your writing and how you want to grow as a poet.

  9. Elliot, thank you so much for your reply. Very inspiring! I will contact Anne Marie Maccari with my questions.

    I’ve been reading more of your site and there is a wealth of information and great poetry here! Thank you for all your work!! Keep at it!


  10. Hi Elliot,
    This is my first time here…my first few minutes, actually. I just read your scarily, almost embarassingly perceptive essay….and…I’m a bit speechless. I’ll email you a note tonight, and more later. It’s been a long day and I’m on overwhelm… Just, thank you! And…I can’t wait to see more of this site. I’m working on a website of my own, but can’t figure how to make it behave…so it might be a while.

    But I’ll be back here soon, and will email you at more length about your amazing essay…
    Best to you,
    Mary Ann

  11. hi there

    i came across your site looking for a martha courtot poem i am desparate to read again. i think its called “tribe”. i orginally found it in a cookbook called “the political palate”,strangely enough. . . anyhow, her work appears to be nigh impossible to find. . . .

    this poem i Need, it is about a kind of lost, scattered tribe, communicating in signals and signs, (perhaps feathers, beads. . . .),at a time when it is not time to be together. . . i wish i could remember. . . .. anyhow, if you have it i would be much oblidged. . . . .

    this is a fantastic blog also, goodness wow. . . . . i will be back, its 3 am though. . . .. i read A prayer of petition and lullaby and my father and gender confrontations at dunkin donuts, thank you for that- – – – – –

    katt hernandez

  12. Hi Katt! How wonderful to find another Martha Courtot fan. Have you seen the notes back and forth from Martha’s sister and daughter on some of her poems posted here?

    After Martha died her family put out a collection of her work called “The Bird Escapes.” I found the poem you want, “Tribes,” there, and will post it on my blog shortly. It’s an amazing piece, and I’d not thought about it in years. I still have all the various incarnations of the “The Political Palate” downstairs, but I’d forgotten this poem was in the first one.

    Glad you’re enjoying the blog!


  13. Dear Elliott,
    There’s so much here! And it’s so thought-provoking. Heart-provoking, too. Thanks for your generosity. I’ll be back again and again.
    Mary Ann McFadden

  14. I actually found an article you wrote using an excerpt from Rain and Thunder, while doing a paper on Identity Politics. I was wondering what year to put in my citationa nd reference? The 1999 date from Issue #5, Winter Solostice, 1999? Or 2011? or:
    batTzedek, (n.d.)
    I am trying to figure out how to cite it correctly.

    Sonya Russell
    Wilmington, Delaware

  15. 1999 is the right date for that article. The thesis was done in, I think, 96 or 97, but that article came later. Do you have the whole essay?

  16. Hi Baby! I listed wanted you to know I stopped by to catch up on some of the things you’ve been up to here. Amazing!

    You are a genius and you take my breath away!

    Your #1 fan!

  17. Dropped by. I’m still in the thinking stages for the Bridges blog and looking around just to see what I see and I’m reading Ezra Nepon’s book on NJA and taking notes as I go, trying to think about connections with past…

  18. Hi Elliott, I dropped by because Pesha gave me the info about Fringes, and I found your blog url. I look forward to meeting one of these Shabbats!


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  21. Hi,
    Found your essay Maggid: This is the story we tell online. So interesting.
    I read it to my family last year in the Seder.

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