I am a poet and teacher, mother and grandmother. I lived in Montclair, NJ for 38 years and have lived in Bloomfield, NJ since 2000.
I was born in New York City in 1934. My family moved to Hewlett, L.I., N.Y. when I was about three. I attended the Hewlett School. My best friend was Meryl Mann, she still is. We moved to N.J. when I was 12, in the Seventh Grade. I attended South Orange Junior High School and Columbia High School. My best friend was Cynthia Mehler (Adler); she still is. Then I attended Wellesley College, Class of 1956; my roommate was Carla Shapiro (Gelband), and she is still a “best friend”. I was married in the fall of 1956 and divorced in the summer of 1974. I received a Master of Arts in Teaching English from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1957; that summer I began my graduate studies in English and Comp. Lit at Columbia University, but stopped when I began teaching in the fall.
I taught high school English in 1957-58 (Watchung Hills Regional High School) and 1959-60 (Columbia High School, my alma mater!) My son Randall Jacob Tiger Bass was born on July 20th, 1958. I took more graduate courses that year and returned to teaching when Randy was 14 months old; my students were 14 years old (and older.) I took leave of my studies while teaching and having more babies: Barbara Joan Tiger Bass was born on March 4th, 1961; Joseph Theodore Tiger Bass was born on August 29th, 1962; Timothy Samson Tiger Bass was born on January 11th, 1965; and Homer Martin Tiger Bass was born on May 19th, 1967.
We lived in Watchung Hills, NJ in 1957-58, while I was teaching there, and moved to Newark in 1958, while I was teaching at Columbia High School in Maplewood. We moved to Victoria Terrace in Upper Montclair in 1962. While the children were young I was involved in community activities–helped to start the local Fair Housing Committee and was active in filing civil rights housing complaints; I fought the John Birch Society in the local schools, taught in public school programs during the summers, and did some tutoring.
When my children were in school I was active in the PTA; but I stopped giving “classroom mother” teas and making holiday cookies when I heard about current projects on teaching poetry to children: I began to visit my children’s classes as a volunteer, with writing projects for the children. In 1972-3 a poet/friend Stuart Milstein was running a poetry project in some schools in Brooklyn and invited me to participate; that was my first paid work in “PITS”. In those early years I attended workshops and readings and became trained as a “Poet in the Classroom” so that I could visit schools in NY and NJ and engage children of all ages in writing poetry. That career developed, and I was steadily employed, visiting schools two or three times a week for about 35 years. Lately, I make very few visits but still participate in the NJ programs, now called “Arts in Education.”
My children are grown and gone into their own lives and careers. Barbara Joan lives in Oakland, Ca. Joe lives in Chicago, Ill., Randy and Tim live in New York City. Homer died in 1989, when he was 22, in a kayak accident in New Zealand.
Fellowships and Awards
In Creative Writing, The NJ State Council on the Arts, 1978, 1980, 1987
Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, 1987, 1988, 1990
Blue Mountain Center, 1988
Graduate Writing, Columbia University School of the Arts, 1985-86
Pioneer Teaching Artist Award of the NJ Arts Education Collective, April 2008
Poetica Magazine, 2007
Editor’s Choice Award, “The Dog of Dreams”, Paterson Literary Review, 2004
Small Press Review Pick of the Month, May – June, 2003
Artist/Teacher award from Playwrights Theater of NJ, 1993
Koronē Poetry Prize, WOMANSPACE, (Rockford, Illinois), 1990
Crazy Quilt Literary Quarterly, Annual Poetry Contest, First Prize, (San Diego, California) 1988 & 1990
Indian Summer Poetry Competition Manuscript Prize (Still Waters Press) for Mary of Migdal, summer 1990
Art in the Nuclear Age, First Place, Muhlenberg College, 1988
Art of Peace Prize, Ft. Collins, CO, 1983, 1984
Journal of NJ Poets manuscript prize for Keeping House in This Forest (chapbook), 1977
Mid-South Poetry Festival Manuscript Prize from South & West for The Chinese Handcuff (chapbook), 1975
The Alfred North Kreymborg Award of The Poetry Society of America, 1975
Paterson Library William Carlos Williams Memorial Poetry Center Contest, 1973
Elizabeth Manwaring Prize for Poetry, Wellesley College, 1955