Annette Berkovits

Annette Berkovits

Dear Gotham,

How do I thank thee? Let me count the ways.

  • I thank thee for outstanding teachers who taught me everything I needed to know to produce a published memoir.
  • I thank thee for your well-designed instructional model for in person and online classes.
  • I thank thee for the diversity of course offerings I could not find elsewhere.
  • I thank every single teacher and mentor from my first, Kelly Caldwell—the supporter and inspirer-in-chief, to the late Cheryl Burke who demanded excellence, to Marie Carter who offered advice with humor, to Kerry Cohen for her bold suggestions, to Matthew Lippman and Michael Montlack who taught me that poetry can be applied to any writing and, finally, to Kyle Minor with his keen insight and honest, incisive critiques. As an educator by training, I can say they were without peer.
  • I thank thee for linking me to passionate fellow writers. I remained in touch with a circle of Gotham graduates and we formed a mutual cheerleading, support and critique group that has endured for more than five years.

I had a highly rewarding professional career in wildlife conservation and was reluctant to retire, but my husband who retired many years before urged me to join him with increasing frequency. Ultimately I gave in. His magic words were, “Now you can write!”

He knew I had always dreamt of writing but English is my third language so I lacked the confidence to plunge in on my own. Gotham gave me the tools and inspiration to pursue writing seriously as my second rewarding career. My friends supplied a wooden block engraved with the words “Use in case of writer’s block” and encouraged my hubby to apply it to my head any time I was “stuck.” I’m glad to report there was no need to use it. I became so involved with all things writing that he has trouble pulling me away from the computer.

All the enjoyable, frustrating and fulfilling hours I spent writing, revising and editing have resulted in the publication of a memoir of my father, In the Unlikeliest of Places: How Nachman Libeskind Survived the Nazis, Gulags and Soviet Communism. It is published by Wilfrid Laurier University Press in Canada. Luckily, my advance reviews were more than I ever hoped for and several university professors plan to use my book for their courses. I have book signings in NYC museums and a radio interview scheduled. Heady stuff. Two other manuscripts are ready for my agent. Buoyed by my success to date I’ve taken some tentative steps toward a YA novel. Now I’ll have to fortify myself with new Gotham classes. One should never cease to learn.

Want some unsolicited advice? If you truly believe in your work, do not be discouraged by rejections from agents or publishers. Like Steven King, use them to wallpaper your office.

Spasiba, Dziekuje, Todah Rabah, A Groysn Dank, Merci, Gracias, Grazie, Danke, and Thank You GOTHAM!!

Annette Libeskind Berkovits

In the Unlikeliest of Places