I fell in love with the personal essay form in 1968, when, at the age of fourteen, I spent a summer with my family in Havana. There I read a marvelous book by Marta Rojas and Raúl Valdés Vivó, documenting their travels though South Vietnam during the war, filled with passion, and the vivid weaving together of personal experience and analysis. Then, one rainy autumn night in 1976, I received a mysterious, anonymous package from Cuba, with the 100th issue of the Casa de las Americas cultural journal, containing Eduardo Galeano's essay "In Defense of the Word." I loved the collage style of his writing, numbered sections that built his argument from many angles. It seemed a richly fitting form for a young immigrant writer who was Jewish and Puerto Rican, from a rural Caribbean coffee farm and a teeming US city, with roots in many communities and movements, a collagist by nature and historical circumstance.
My essays appear in many places. In the groundbreaking 1981 anthology This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, and the 2003 collection Wrestling with Zion: Progressive Jewish-American Responses to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Many of my pieces were published in Bridges: A Journal for Jewish Feminists and Our Friends, and in 1998 South End Press published my essay collection Medicine Stories. A second, greatly expanded edition was published by Duke University Press in April, 2019.