Editor’s Page

Summer 2010

Dear Readers:

Losses are hard to take—some more than others.

This spring my younger sister died. She was preparing for a class she taught in herbal medicine, and she passed away without warning, book in hand. We had our differences—there was a period when we hardly spoke—but we got over that. We were women together, co-matriarchs of a large brood of disparate relatives, and we had a strong, enduring bond as sisters.

At first I couldn’t understand how this sad, completely unexpected death could happen during spring, a time when life is bursting all around and everything radiates newness. Certainly my sister was thriving, her family settled, her career flourishing. But there is no sense to make of loss. It happens of its own accord and remains a mystery.

Over the years, I—like the rest of you—have accumulated many losses. The list we have is long: dear ones have died, relationships have been broken, our children are distant, our bodies less dependable, and so on. These losses shape our lives and the directions we take.

The question that intrigues me is how we continue to live in the face of loss.

When we started Persimmon Tree, we figured that our writers would have a lot to say about this. And we were right. We’ve probably received more submissions about loss than any other subject. Some pieces are poignant, some bitter, some deeply moving, some wise, some humorous. Clearly the urge for many women over sixty is to write in a literary way about this aspect of life and share the understanding they’ve reached.

But life is not just about loss. It’s also about gain. Our writers send us submissions about new lovers and partners, a deeper appreciation of life, a greater connection to community, and their excitement about their work. It seems that intensity grows with age and passion increases. All this comes through in our submissions.

Speaking of submissions, we were very pleased to receive over a hundred entries for our first SHORT TAKES contest. What a delight it was to read them. The range on the topic, “First Thing in the Morning,” was wider than we ever imagined, and the quality was excellent. In the future we will have other Short Takes contests. Our next topic is “Thrills,” with submissions dates July 1—Oct. 15. Check out the details on our Submissions page.

In our Fall issue we will have the results of the International Poets contest, our 5th poetry contest. After that, we will begin another cycle, starting with a contest for women poets living in the Eastern states. We’re excited about this contest because it is different from the ones we have done before. Take a look at our guidelines on the Submissions page to see what I’m referring to.

Finally, I want to thank all of you who have contributed so kindly to our mid-year fundraising emails. Frankly we hate to ask for help. We wish we didn’t have to. But we can’t do the magazine without it—and we are so appreciative to you, our readers, for your great support.

Wishing you a summer of warmth and satisfaction,

Nan Gefen
Chief Editor


Nan Fink Gefen was the founding publisher of Tikkun magazine in 1985 and the founding editor of Persimmon Tree magazine in 2007. She is the author of Stranger in the Midst (Basic Books, 1997) and Discovering Jewish Meditation (Jewish Lights, 2nd edition 2011), and her fiction and nonfiction pieces have appeared in literary journals and magazines. She currently is working on a novel, Woman on a Wire.