News from The Thinking Heart

The Thinking Heart ensemble will be at the Camden Library April 27 performing the poetry to music based on Etty Hillesum’s life and writing.

Recently returning from a trip to Europe for Etty’s birthday, there are now thoughts and reflections on a new blog, the creative wellspring from that visit abroad, where news will be appearing on the development of a new educational program. No doubt, some of the impressions and words on that experience will be shared at the performance, so if you have not been to one this could be a rich time to attend.

The text of The Thinking Heart, with an introduction, is available in stores and online at Deerbrook Editions.

The Thinking Heart


News and titles from 2012-2013

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And Welcome to this update on titles.

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News from Deerbrook Editions 2013

New books are in the works. This year, 2014, as of this letter, new books will be coming out by Dawn Potter, Stuart Kestenbaum, and Martina Reisz Newberry. And More.

Over the past year and a half Deerbrook Editions has brought out six new books:

Learning by Rote, poems by Martina Reisz Newberry
The Thinking Heart: The Life & Loves of Etty Hillesum by Martin Steingesser
Memory Won’t Save Me: a haibun by Mimi White
No Passing Zone, poems by Donna Reis
The Irresistible In-Between, poems by David Sloan
Freeing the Hook, poems by Peter Harris

All books available from the Website
Available now: Freeing the Hook, poems by Peter Harris.

Freeing The Hook by Peter Harris

White Waves on Sand, Maine by John Marin

Petter Harris is Zacamy Professor in English at Colby College in Waterville, Maine where he founded a mentoring program. Currently, he chairs the Art Department. He has taught at Colby College since 1974.

He has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for the Arts, Red Cinder House, and the Tyron Guthrie Center in Ireland, and has been awarded a Martin Dibner Writing Fellowship.

He is co-founder of a mentoring program (Colby Cares About Kids) that in 2012-13 matched nearly five hundred College students with primary and elementary students in ten communities.

He holds an BA from Middlebury, a Ph.D. from Indiana University. And a MFA from Warren Wilson.


David Sloan received the 2012 Betsy Sholl award for the poem Bad Math, and the 2012 Maine Literary Award for Poetry in the Short Works Competition.
The Irresistible In-Between by David Sloan, is available at the Website
David not only teaches at Maine’s Waldorf school he trains teachers in Waldorf theory.

The Irresistible In-Between by David Slaon

The Irresistible In-Between cover features a photo by Chris Darling.

From the back cover:

W.H. Auden said poetry is a clear statement of mixed emotions, and that’s the great gift of David Sloan’s poems. The Irresistible In-Between gives us a series of lenses, each clarifying the rich complexity of contemporary life and relationships. There is an exactitude of eye and ear here, and an unassuming confidence that makes the speaker an indispensable guide through relational thickets, where, as he says, ‘I do what I can to be near the commotion, the danger.’ I would describe all these poems the way the speaker describes his sons’ carpentry skills: ‘the casual exactness of lines/ measured out like music.’ These are indeed beautifully rendered poems.
—Betsy Sholl, author of Rough Cradle

Good books from 2012

No Passing Zone is a fine book of poems by Donna Reis who teaches at The Northeast Poetry Center, College of Poetry, in Warwick, New York. More can be seen at
Donna has a review: reviewed-by-john-bellinger/10152085658697318  which is posted as a note on our Facebook page.

No Passing grab

From the Back cover:

Lyrical, wry, biting—Reis uses all the tricks in her deck to show how to survive the pain and healing of the body, the crumbling and restoration of houses, the razing and rebuilding of love. There’s serious word play here, and a sharp eye for detail. Reis explores not only her own experience, but the lives of others—Dorothy Wordsworth ministering to her brother, Mary Lamb, whose “Kitchen rattled / toward me, its knives hissing . . .” Readers will rejoice at the perseverance of this poet, who “stayed because [she had] more stories to tell.”
—Mary Makofske



Martina Reisz Newberry is a California writer now, once again, living in LA. Learning by Rote has gotten some attention and reviews can be read here: Martina’s blog. I have posted a number of descriptions and the like on Facebook

A photo by Brian Newberry

A photo by Brian Newberry











Martin Steingesser is as active as ever with readings and performances of The Thinking Heart. The ensemble has been raising money in performance to make a trip to Europe for Etty’s birthday. You can learn more information here:

"A Red Anemone" , pastel by Katharine Whild

“A Red Anemone” , pastel by Katharine Whild

The book is based on the performance and contains the text and an introduction to Etty Hillesum, her writings, and how they touched and inspired Martin.

Read a review in the Press Herald.

“Etty Hillesum’s remarkable voice and The Thinking Heart ensemble’s stirring simplicity… make this an intimate and profoundly moving meditation on how…to love.” —The Portland Phoenix






Memory Won't Save me by Mimi White

Cover art: Sculpture “Wheel of Time” by Kerryn Forster of Australia












Memory Won’t Save Me by Mimi White is best described by this endorsement:

When the Japanese poet-monk Basho invented the haibun, the alternating haiku and prose in which he documented his travels, he certainly never imagined what a poet could do with the form in twenty-first century American English. Mimi White’s Memory Won’t Save Me is an ingenious, fascinating appropriation, an account of both physical and emotional travel. The geography is the weeks leading up to the death of a father. Shifting easily between direct observation and layers of memory, she turns what might have been a familiar kind of elegy into a work of great depth and power.
—Chase Twichell

Other news is not so new but to perhaps some of you.

(Since keeping up with blogs, Websites, marketing, mailings, design, editing, etc. I yearn to be able to make more frequent newsletters.)

For the past couple of years Deerbrook Editions has had a Fiscal Sponsorship with Fractured Atlas in NY which allows “Project Deerbrook” to receive tax deductible donations to help us with our mission of making books and helping undiscovered authors reach a wider audience in well designed trade books.

We need your help to develop marketing and promotion strategies for new authors books. The press needs to raise money to expand beyond break even economics, in order to get help with the business of running the press, and to try to land a grant.

If you know and like the press books, please show your support by making even a small donation. If 20 people donated 10 dollars (the price of a bottle of wine or a six pack) it becomes 200 dollars; if 20 people donated 25 dollars it becomes 500 dollars. 500 dollars would help launch an authors new book or keep a couple of books on the list in print.

Deerbrook is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the purposes of Deerbrook must be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

Visit our profile and consider joining us in celebrating literature by donating or by buying books.

contact info: Deerbrook Editions / PO Box 542 Cumberland ME 04021 207.829.5038

News on The Thinking Heart

I had to take a break to visit my older sister. Things go on nonetheless, and I am catching up with all – whatever is all in a days work.
Martin Steingesser, our first author, Brothers of Morning 2002, is busy with his performance piece and you can read a review about it . Of course these are events taking place in Portland, ME, but this kind of work is receiving attention as others do similar work.

Two more performances of “The Thinking Heart: the Life and Loves of Etty Hillesum,” will be presented in the Portland area during May and June at First Parish Church; the Allen Avenue Unitarian Universalist Church; and at the University of Southern Maine’s Glickman Family Library. Conversation concerning the work will follow performances.  Addresses of performance sites, dates, times and other particulars below.
• Allen Avenue Unitarian Universalist Church, 524 Allen Avenue, Portland, on May 22, at  3 pm. Contact: Caroline Loupe,, 207-926-5983. Admission: Donation Requested.
• Glickman Family Library at the University of Southern Maine, 314 Forest Avenue, 7th Floor, Portland, on June 2, at 7 pm. This performance is sponsored by Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance. Contact: Joshua Bodwell, Executive Director,, 207-228-8263.

‘The Thinking Heart’
History in Poetry and Music

“Poignant and stirring, The Thinking Heart leaves an indelible impression.”
—Robert Bernheim, Executive Director, Holocaust & Human Rights Center of Maine.

“Etty confronts us all with what it means to be and remain human
under the most extreme circumstances.”
—Edward van Voolen, Chairman, Etty Hillesum Foundation

About The Thinking Heart

“The Thinking Heart,” an original arrangement of the diaries and letters of Etty Hillesum, a Dutch woman who opposed Nazism with compassion and love, is an ensemble work in two voices, with cello. The work, constellated as poems by Martin Steingesser, is presented by Steingesser and Judy Tierney with cellist Robin Jellis. Her music, meditations inspired by the poems, are mostly improvisational. There are quotes from Earnest Bloch’s Schelomo. Other influences include folk songs and J.S. Bach’s Suites for Unaccompanied cello. The final movement is an original piece by Jellis.
“Beautifully done, the combination of voices and cello extraordinary,” said Tricia Ryden, Assistant Director of Wiggin Memorial Library, in Stratham, NH. “Profoundly moving.”

Etty Hillesum was a Jewish woman who lived in Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation and wrote a luminous diary and over 70 letters, collected and published together in a book, Etty: The Letters and Diaries of Etty Hillesum. The journal and letters document her vibrant life in Amsterdam and subsequent internment by the Nazis. She died in Auschwitz in 1943.
Martin Steingesser is Portland, Maine’s first Poet Laureate (2007-09). “His poems articulate the many seasons of the heart,” said Baron Wormser, writing of his book Brothers of Morning. He was selected to receive the Maine Alliance for Art Education’s Bill Bonyun Award in 2006 “for exemplified talent and professionalism as an artist and for being an inspiration to the community.”
Judy Tierney has been presenting poems in Maine for several years and has been nourished in the garden of poetry over many life seasons. She was creator and host of a weekly radio program, “Walking in the Air,” celebrating poetry and its voices, on WRFR, Rockland’s community radio station.
Robin Jellis has performed in Maine for more than 10 years and has played with the Bangor Symphony. She is on the faculty of the Portland Conservatory of Music.


The Thinking Heart Ensemble thanks the Maine Humanities Council & Maine Arts Commission for its support.