Before I wrote MIRIAM AT THE RIVER, I wrote a bunch of Holocaust poems and Judaica poems. My first two professionally published & paid-for poems were in a magazine called The Chicago Jewish Forum. And while my parents didn’t raise either my brother Steve or me to be more than culturally Jewish, I was fascinated enough by ritual and history, by the stories in the Hebrew Bible which I read as a child on my own, to ask at age thirteen (no bat mitzvahs at that time) to join a confirmation class at the local synagogue in Norwalk, Ct. There I became the first girl to read out of the Torah at that shul. I, also, became the head of the new synagogue youth group. At age 19 I declared Comparative Religions as my minor (CompLit and Writing my major) at Smith College.

But the genesis of MIRIAM AT THE RIVER was really two things: a book I wrote with my friend Barbara Diamond Goldin. She had been a student of mine before she became a dear friend. And she is as devout as I am not. We decided to write a book for middle graders together (published last year) about the girls and women of the Hebrew Bible called MEET ME AT THE WELL, in many instances teasing out their stories from behind the men’s’. The other genesis was this poem that did NOT get into MEET ME AT THE WELL, but became one of my poems I sent out to subscribers and eventually the book MIRIAM AT THE RIVER.

You will be able to see the lines I stole from my own poem.

@2020 Jane Yolen all rights reserved