About Us














 Three Generations

 *Charley Toorop





Vol.1 # 3

John Azrak

I have been a NYC resident my entire life, born and raised in Brooklyn and living in Douglaston for many years. I have an MA in Eng. Lit. from Queens College and numerous doctoral credits from NYU and St John's in Eng. Lit. and Eng. Education.  I have taught secondary school for my whole career, the past twenty years as chair of the English Department at WaltWhitman HS on Long Island.  I have also run two alternative schools prior to Whitman, one of which resulted in a book, The Learning Community (Paulist Press).


My stories and poems have been published widely in literary magazines, three of which have been anthologized, most notably a story in Bless Me, Father (Penquin).  I am currently writing full time and judging literary magazines for Columbia University's Scholastic Press, based upon the quality of the magazine I advised at Walt Whitman. 


Sharon Blumberg 
I graduated from Indiana University, Indiana in 1980, with a BA; and received a Masters of Science in Secondary Education from Purdue University Calumet, Indiana. I was a substitute teacher for about four years, and have spent my last 11 years at Parker Junior High School. I am currently teaching 7th grade Spanish. I would love to write about the everyday types of situations that teachers can encounter. I am married with two children in college.


Nancy Brodsky
I am a 26 year-old teacher at Gompers High School in the South Bronx, where I have been teaching English since 2001. I have a BS in English Education from NYU and a MS in Urban Policy Analysis from the New School. I love my job because my kids make me laugh, while simultaneously causing me to pull my hair out. You can read about my teaching experience on my blog, Se Hace El Camino Al Andar. I live in Spanish Harlem, next door to the Stickball Hall of Fame.

Elizabeth Gallo
Let's see.  I was born in Chicago, Illinois, and I grew up in Evanston.  Even though I have lived on the East Coast for almost half my life now, I'm really still a midwestern girl.  I continue to find the East Coast aggressiveness to be just too, too much.  My husband Michael and I live in Maplewood, New Jersey, after finally making a move from our tiny studio apartment in the East Village.  I'm still having trouble finding things to eat out here in the "country."

Through the NYCTF, I taught English and choral music in the Bronx at the Fordham HS for the Arts, one of the dismembered parts of the Theodore Roosevelt Educational Campus, affectionately referred to as "The Rooz."  This place is proof positive that none of the mayor's "improvements" are really happening, by the way.  :)

I was lucky enough to fall into a job this fall at Newark's Arts High School. It was the original performing and visual arts high school in the country, and the one upon which LaGuardia's model is based.  It is exceptionally well-run compared to where I was in the Bronx, and I finally feel like I'm actually teaching.  I have found that simple things like having my own classroom, administrators that don't trash teachers, and resources for the appropriate teaching materials such as books and chalk make all the difference in the world.  I feel saved.

I attended Boston University as an undergraduate, where I studied opera signing.  I also have a master's degree in opera singing from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.  When I finally made my way to NYC in the mid-nineties, I attended the New School where I received my master's degree in creative writing.  At the New School, I was one of the founding editors of their journal LIT. Don't tell my husband, but I think I'm going to pursue a PhD at Seton Hall. :)

My interest in writing (and reading, therefore) is in the specificity of things.  I don't like the easy poems; I like the transformative ones. I have published maybe 25 or so of my poems in the tiniest journals, and some of the poems weren't even terrible. The only thing I don't like about teaching is how much time it takes from writing.  At some point in my life I'd like to be a poet/teacher instead of a teacher/poet.



Andrés Castro

Pen Member    

These bones have an unusual amount of wear & tear at the age of 46, and yet, you better believe I'm still hard at work guarding that “inner child.” Id in the service of ego, for you agreeable Freudians. I’m the founder and current managing editor of The Teacher’s Voice; and my fantasy is to grow this baby into one hell of a presence with a circle of beatific supporters and then silently drift into some beautiful green mountains, overlooking the sea, to write poems--which wouldn't surprise anyone who really knows me, especially my most patient wife, my beautiful daughter Ruko, and my solid, tender-hearted son, Manuel.



Haruko Castro
I am a Queens, NY native and attended Hunter College High School, where I spent my final year acting as Co-Editor-in-Chief of Argus, the school’s literary journal; and also received the Wellesley College Book Award for writing throughout high school.

Currently, I am a sophomore at Yale University majoring in Latin American Studies: Race, Ethnicity, and Migration and serve as treasurer for Despierta Boricua, Yale’s Puerto Rican student organization, as well as an elected officer in the Asian American Student Alliance.

I spent the summer of 2002 at Standford studying theatre, and attended the seminar Indigenous Peoples in an Interconnected World at Cornell the summer of 2003. I also spent this past summer in Quito, Ecuador studying Spanish with Georgetown University.

Though I am still very undecided as to what I want to do in the distant future, there are a few ideas up in the air. I would love to enter the non-profit sector, whether in the U.S. or Latin America. I also have aspirations of perfecting my Spanish and perhaps working as a translator or as a teacher. My ideal plan for the extended future would include graduate school and becoming either a journalist or a professor of Latin American Studies, or any other profession that would entail traveling the world.



Gwendoline Y. Fortune
I am a grandmother with a 20 year-old granddaughter who will graduate from Wesleyan U in CT in 2006. She wants to be a teacher and I reminded her that she will "be poor," something she said she never wanted to be. She loves teaching, I wish her well. I have a one and one-half year old granddaughter, as well.  They are from sons, who are ten years apart in age. I was married for "too many " years to an engineer and army officer. We have three sons.


I write this to indicate that my interests are more varied than the age difference between my granddaughters. I have taught, elementary school in a small town and the capital of South Carolina, in the megalopolis of Chicago and an affluent suburb in Illinois. Most of my teaching was at Oakton Community College in northern Illinois, an innovative college, founded in 1970. I was on the founding faculty of 26, of which I have always been pleased. Oakton had no departments and no divisions, and worked from a "Student Development Model." My teaching career focused on inventive, experimental structures and curricula. My students were from a multiplicity of ethnic and economic origins. I thrive in such an environment. Diversity and change are my lifeblood.


I taught and wrote courses in social science such as  "The Individual in Modern Society" and "Mankind in Global Society" and history courses such as  "African-American Roots and Heritage" and "Racial Minorities in the USA, as well as the usual US history courses, with an emphasis on "the whole story." I've, also, taught Deviance to a class of Illinois suburban policemen and a master's level course on ethnic relations at Loyola University in Chicago.


I am a classically trained singer; I attended Juilliard School of Music for a year and a half, studying clarinet and piano. Additionally, I studied voice privately for ten years, I've performed in the US and in Europe. I have four degrees, BA, MS, M Ph, Ed. D. and attend retreats and workshops in mind-body-spirit pursuits. Metaphysics is one of my interests.


My family history includes African-European and Indigenous heritage. One great grandfather, a free-born black, was one of the first judges in the south during Reconstruction. Another was a runaway mulatto slave who fought for the Union during the Civil War. My first known ancestor to this hemisphere was from Northern Ireland, prior to the American Revolution. This history informs my life and writing. To date, I have two published novels, Growing Up Nigger Rich , 2002, and Family Lines, 2003, Pelican Publishing Company. Non-fiction articles have appeared in about twenty places, academic and popular.  I wrote regular columns for independent newspapers and magazines, 1975 to 1994.  Poems and a few short stories are published. Presently, my agent is seeking to place a three novella manuscript, On my Journey, Now. I give readings and papers where ever possible. My next major presentation will be a paper titled, "Alien in the Homeland, Rescuing the 'Bourgie.' " at the Association for African American Historical Research and Preservation conference  at Seattle University, WA on February 11, 2006.


I maintain continual correspondence with approximately 150 progressive contacts in the USA, Canada and Asia. I belong to two writing groups in my year old residence of Montgomery, Texas, 60 miles north of Houston. Poetry, a collection of my newspaper columns and other writing are before me for the next year or so. 



Jackie Davis Martin
Divide my life in thirds:  the first 20 years I spend in Pennsylvania, specifically McKeesport (which seems to have disappeared from the map), then Allegheny College in Meadville (a scene of incredible beauty, of wonderful academics) where I graduate after 3 and 2/3 years and move to New Jersey; in New Jersey I teach high school English, raise two children, change partners, earn a Master's from Rutgers, but stay in the same house for 21 years until I move to San Francisco which I did in 1986; that makes almost another 20 years! I moved to S.F. with my husband, Bruce, who suggested the move as a lark, as something different to do.  ("Let's try the prettiest city in the U.S.")  We have a sunny flat, enjoy all the city has to offer--the Opera, the Ballet (season subscriptions), the parks and theatres; I continued to teach full time in the Bay Area until a few years ago when I retired, officially, in order to allow time to write.  


My original goal was to create works of fiction based on events in my life, although, increasingly, I have embellished and invented. I like the essay form, too. I started writing in 9th grade and enjoyed the looks on my girlfriends' faces as they read the tragic love stories I created at the typewriter (with carbon paper!) and let them read in class.  In college I took several writing classes and seminars with Alfred Kern, a man who, in my memories, still abounds with wisdom.  Over the next thirty years I'd write a story here and there (impossible to find time when one has children, reads English papers all the time, and, in my case, also choreographs and directs school musicals which I did for about a dozen years)-but just never devoted time to writing, until I set the goal to write.


Now:  My retirement lasts only about five months!  I teach several classes (high school & college), but devote time each day (or at least week) to the discipline of writing.  The past two summers I have attended the Tin House Writers Workshop (Portland, OR) and worked one summer with Charles D'Ambrosio and the next with Ron Carlson, two men whose writing I admire tremendously; there are participants from both those groups with whom I stay in touch, exchanging, as we do, work, readings, inspirational comments.   I return regularly to the East Coast--to New Jersey, to Pennsylvania, to my past. 


Charles Rammelkamp
I’m 53, BA in Philosophy from Illinois College (Phi Beta Kappa), MA in English from Boston University, MA in Creative Writing/Publication Design from University of Baltimore.  I was on the adjunct faculty at Essex Community College (part of the Baltimore County Community College system) for ten years, teaching a night course every semester, at first 101 – Comp/Rhetoric – then 102 (Intro to Literature) and the last 3 semesters I was there I had the Creative Writing night section.  It got to be too much, given my family and daytime job.  I might go back sometime.

One novel – The Secret Keepers – one collection of short fiction – A Better Tomorrow – edited a collection of essays on American culture, mainly written by teachers, called Fake-City Syndrome (Red Hen Press, as is my novel), and six poetry chapbooks.

Married 22 years to my wife Abby, an Arabic translator.  Two daughters, Anna, 17-3/4, and Zoë, 14-3/4.   Essentially an atheist but I converted to Judaism 22 years ago because my wife is Jewish and for the sake of a consistent household…only mildly hypocritical, as far as I’m concerned.

Elizabeth Yang
I was born and raised in the Bronx. The elementary and middle schools I attended were considered to be some of the worse performing schools in the Bronx. I refused to go to my neighborhood high school and went to James Monroe HS in the Bronx. I went to Fordham University where I earned my B.S. in Social Sciences. I have worked in the Financial Services sector for close to twenty years in Direct Marketing. I have a Certificate in Direct Marketing from NYU and I am working on my Masters in Direct Marketing from Mercy College. I live In New Jersey with my husband and my two sons.







*Small reproduction of a large painting reprinted under fair use statutes. All artwork presented in the hardcopy magazine is of public record Pre-1923 and in the Public Domain, or the artist has granted permission to use.