Barbara Krasner offered sessions on May 18 and 26.

Barbara first fell in love with history in the fourth grade in her hometown of Kearny, New Jersey. Her class had to write about their town’s future or past to help celebrate its centennial. She went to the Main Library, specifically to the Kearny Room, and found all sorts of facts that titillated her. But that year, too, her class began academic study of history and a love of language soon followed. By the time she finished high school, her favorite subjects were German, Russian, and History.

While she played around with creative writing and journalism, writing came much later for her. She entered the publishing industry upon graduation with my B.A. in German and began to write copy.

Eventually, she went on to get my M.B.A. in Marketing and left publishing for big bucks and a more convenient commute than the New Jersey telecommunications industry offered. But she found herself wanting more, something to satisfy her personally and intellectually. And that brought me back to language and history. A bout of bacterial meningitis in 1989 led her to explore the world of genealogy. She began to write and speak about family history and Kearny history. She earned an M.F.A. from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She left Corporate America to pursue her own interests as a writer and educator, earning an M.A. in History from William Paterson University where she was teaching in the English department. In September 2022, she graduated with her Ph.D. in Holocaust & Genocide Studies at Gratz College in Pennsylvania.

The Birthmark by Reva – Jane Solomon

Sprawled across my lily white leg was a birthmark, thick and dark, dark brown. I never gave it a thought. It was always just a part of me. I was four years old, with the happy innocence that comes with childhood. As I sat on my tricycle, an older boy appeared. He was maybe six years old. His tall white body cast a shadow across my face, blocking out the bright sunlight that had been shining in my eyes a minute before.

“What’s that?” he asked with a sneer across his lips pointing to my leg. In an instant, I felt shame. Something I had never felt before. No one had ever pointed at my birthmark or questioned it. A part of me since birth, it just was. It was never discussed. Never thought of. Until this boy asked that menacing question. “What’s that?” he said louder and bolder, as the other kids began to gather around. They watched intently as the boy continued performing in front of them.

I tried to get the words out to answer him, but fear gripped my throat and kept me silent. I felt tears welling up in my eyes and my body began to shake uncontrollably. By now the children had circled around me, blocking my escape. They were silent, but I felt their kinship with the boy. And then, with more vitriol than should ever come from a six year old, shot those words that would not be forgotten. “You don’t belong here N———— girl!”  Even though I didn’t know the meaning of the word or why he was calling me that name, I knew by the inflection of his voice that I had to get away.  As I broke through the circle of kids to run inside to the safety of our apartment and my mother’s arms, I heard the other kids begin chanting that word along with the boy. And just like that my innocence was taken away. It was replaced with distrust and feeling like an outsider. Those feelings would define me for many years to come.

Thank you for joining us for Write Around the World!

For the rest of the summer, watch our blog! We are sharing writing from AWA’s yearly marathon fundraiser, which happened this year all-online throughout the month of May.

We offer this series in appreciation for the incredible community of writers and workshop leaders that sustain us. If you’re inspired and would like to be part of the fundraiser, please donate!

2 thoughts on “Voices Around the World: Barbara Krasner”

  1. TY so much for publishing my writing. I am beyond grateful. And a special TY to my wonderful teacher and writer for encouraging me. Take any of her classes, she’s a great and supportive teacher – not to mention a wonderful writer herself.

    Reva Solomomn

    1. Clear and simple background works as a backdrop. Then, I am drawn into feeling your pain. The cruelty of others leaves a permanent mark even when one succeeds in working through it.Writing is definitely an avenue for you to continue to explore.

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