Through Mission Point Press in Traverse City, Deborah Hochberg chose 50 poems for her book Waiting for the Snow: Poems.
While most of Deborah Hochberg’s professional hours have been spent as a nurse practitioner helping patients overcome insomnia, many of her waking hours away from work have been given to the satisfaction of writing poetry to express deep feelings.
It started years ago after observing the way her late father, Israel Hochberg, wrote verse in English and Hebrew. Gradually, they wrote together.
“We would talk on the phone, and he would say a line,” Hochberg recalled about their subjects, which vary from memories to the passage of time. “Then I would say a line. We would go on in that fashion for a while.”
On her own and with what she anticipated as perpetually private, Hochberg wrote about heritage, relationships, everyday activities and anything that gave her pause. While her closest relatives, a brother and sister, as well as friends followed her classical piano training, chamber group performances and home gardening talents in Oak Park, they were not told about the poems.
“They are all reflections, aspects and facets of myself,” said Hochberg, who also devoted time to writing movie reviews for the Metro Times.
The pandemic kept her writing poems and somehow awakened her to the possibility of opening up her reflections through publishing. After work with other nurses testing people for COVID-19 and thinking about the life-threatening implications of the pandemic, Hochberg contemplated mortality and wanted an aspect of herself to be lasting.
“I had all these poems, and there was something in me that wanted to create a book,” said Hochberg, 60. “I wanted my poems to be preserved in the world.”
Through Mission Point Press in Traverse City, she chose 50 poems for her book Waiting for the Snow: Poems. The title comes from a poem that reflects on a Sunday of shopping before a snowfall. It reads in part:
“Home before the first flakes
Drift from the sky.”
“The poems [enter into] exploration and awareness and just the music of the words,” Hochberg said. “Often the poems would surprise me, illuminating something I didn’t realize I knew.
“The writing has been a map of the wanderings of my soul through the world.
“Years ago, I attended a reading by poet Robert Bly, and he said something like poetry is the place where the soul and the world touch, and it made an impression on me.”
Raised in a secular Jewish home with a strong cultural identity, Hochberg has a few poems that reflect the Judaism she explored in adulthood. Hochberg studied religion through programs offered by the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning.
Jewish heritage entered into thoughts about family, unknown and known. In honor of her personally unknown great-grandmother, she wrote:
“From the ashes
of your unmarked grave
the light of your spirit rises
to inspire my life.”
“In 2011, I traveled to Poland with an Israeli company,” Hochberg said. “I saw painted synagogues, and I visited Treblinka, where so many of my family members perished. I walked the same streets of Warsaw where my maternal grandparents walked, and we briefly stopped in the town where my father was born.”
Whether about travels or daily experiences, Hochberg presents a serious outlook.
“Occasionally, I am kept awake by lines of poetry that come to me late at night,” Hochberg said.
“I rest easier after I write them down.”
Waiting for the Snow: Poems is available on Amazon. $12.95.