Author Archives: Deborah Steinberg

About Deborah Steinberg

I am a writer whose fiction and prose poetry explore themes of illness and healing in surreal, metaphoric ways. I hold a B.A. in Creative Writing and Literature from Bard College and an M.A. in English Literature from the Université Michel Montaigne – Bordeaux III, where my thesis focused on the intersection of literature and medicine. I spent seven years teaching English in France, and since my return to my native San Francisco, I have served as Director of Artist Services at WomenArts and Managing Editor at Red Bridge Press. My writing is published in print and online journals, and I am working on a novel. I am passionate about the power of writing as part of the healing process, and I facilitate writing workshops focused on healing.

Oakland Beast Crawl


On Saturday, July 12, I participated in the Oakland Beast Crawl. It was a fantastic time! I got to hear so much great writing, talk to a bunch of awesome writers, and perform my own work! And it was all captured on video.

I read an excerpt from my novel, Splitting the Wind, at Writing Without Walls, curated and hosted by Jeff Von Ward at Rock, Paper, Scissors Collective. Here’s the video of the event.

Charles Kruger and I co-hosted the Bay Area Generations reading at Era Art and Wine Bar. We both performed as surprise musical guests interspersed between three intergenerational pairs of writers. It was fun to sing “Pacific Song” a cappella. Here’s the video.

The crawl was a wonderful celebration of the Bay Area literary community, and I’m honored to have been a part of it. Thank you so much to all the organizers, curators, readers, musicians, and audience members…


Writing is Healing at Succulent Words Workshop

 Read about one participant’s great experience at the last Heal Write workshop at Succulence, as well as an example of the types of writing we generate in the workshops, on her blog. Register for the upcoming three-week Succulent Words workshop to do some healing writing of your own!



Great Reviews of “Writing That Risks”

Writing That Risks: New Work From Beyond The Mainstream, which I co-edited with Liana Holmberg, is the first book out from Red Bridge Press. I’m so pleased that the anthology has been getting some great reviews! Links below:

Hannah Rodabaugh in [PANK]

Robert O’Connell in Switchback

Lauren Egger-Crowe in Trop

It feels great when reviewers clearly understand our mission with the anthology – to present writing that takes risk in both form and content in different ways – and it feels even better when they think we’ve succeeded! Keep in touch with Red Bridge Press by signing up for the mailing list. We’re planning a lot of exciting things for 2014 – including the launch of a webzine (I’ll be the fiction editor), participating in the AWP conference in Seattle in February, and, later in the year, announcing our next publication. 

Hosting Bay Area Generations Reading Monday, Oct. 28, 2013

After reading at the inauguImageral edition of the new Bay Area Generations reading series last month, curators Charles Kruger and Sandra Wassilie asked me to be the guest curator and host of this month’s reading. I’m thrilled and honored to be helping present some amazing cross-generational pairs of local writers in the gorgeous library at the Berkeley City Club Monday, October 28, 7-9 pm. 

The lineup for this month’s reading is: 

John Oliver Simon + Alana Cybele Zufolo 

Stephen Kopel + John Rowe

Karen Penley + GP Skratz

Maw Shein Win + Matt Cantor

Anne Franken + Martin A. David 

Plus a return engagement by musicians Miles Karp + Steven Gray


About Bay Area Generations:

The format of this series, our “gimmick” if you will, is that each “reader” is actually an intergenerational creative couple who perform as a pair. Each show includes three to five pairs of readers and one pair of musicians.

We encourage our contributors to be creative within this format, stipulating only that they propose a combined performance lasting no more than 10 to 15 minutes.

“Generations” includes no introductions or banter, but we do provide a program which provides statements from each pair of readers.

Reading Sep. 23, 2013 for Generations Reading Series

I’ve been selected to read at a new series here in SF called Generations, which pairs writers of different generations whose work complements each other. I’ll be reading a short prose piece as the partner to poet Stephen Kopel. I’m honored to take part in the inaugural event!

Generations Reading Series at The Emerald Tablet, 80 Fresno St., San Francisco (in North Beach), Monday, September 23, 2013, 7:30-9:30 pm.



Writing That Risks is now available!

The first publication from Red Bridge Press, Writing That Risks: New Work from Beyond the Mainstream, is now available for purchase! This wonderful collection of boundary-breaking fiction, poetry, and non-fiction, was a joy to edit. I’m thrilled to be able to share these great pieces from a diverse group of contemporary authors with the world. Check it out!

Red Bridge Press Launches

I am now the Managing Editor at a new small press, Red Bridge Press, based in San Francisco, CA.

We’ve launched with a call for submissions for an anthology of writing that risks (deadline: October 31, 2012), and we will open for book-length submissions in winter 2013. 

After publishing the franco-american ‘zine Louis Liard for six years, I took several years off from publishing. I’m excited to be back at it, working with Liana Holmberg to develop a new publishing model using social networking and new technologies to create a great experience for both authors and readers.

Red Bridge Press publishes books that take risks for readers who want to be surprised, delighted, and challenged. Join us!

The Transit of Venus – An Irreverent Mythology

ImageToday, June 5, is the Transit of Venus, a celestial event that occurs only twice a century, when the planet Venus passes directly between the Sun and the Earth. Each century, two transits occur as a pair separated by 8 years. The last one took place on June 8, 2004, and after today’s transit, there will not be another until 2117. (The Exploratorium has a great site devoted to the Transit of Venus, and they’re webcasting it live from Hawaii today).

My women’s a cappella choir, Conspiracy of Venus, organized our end-of-the-season show at The Makeout Room in San Francisco this past Saturday, June 2, around the Transit of Venus – since we are, after all, named after the same diety as the planet. I was asked by my choir-mates to write a “mythology” for us surrounding the Transit. We staged a pageant in which members of the choir acted out the story as I read it aloud. The evening also included a performative interpretation of The Birth of Venus by the fabulous Ginger Murray, Founding Editor of Whore! Magazine, as well as a performance by the Lemon Twist Drill Team, a set by Carlos ForsterMike Coykendall, and Kelly Bauman, and, of course, a full set by Conspiracy of Venus.

This was a wonderful evening to be involved in, and it was a good occasion for a fun writing assignment, which I post here for your enjoyment:

The Transit of Venus – An Irreverent Mythology

Welcome, friends, to the Celebration of the Transit of Venus, the highest of Venusian high holy days – after, of course, the Birth of Venus.  The Transit of Venus occurs twice every century, as a pair of events eight years apart.  We celebrated the first transit of this century eight years ago, when Venus made her first pass between Earth and the Sun.  Tonight, we gather to celebrate the culmination of the holiday, when Venus again travels between Earth and the Sun, by retelling the story of the first Transit, as our mothers told us and their mothers told them and so on back into the ages before recorded history.

As legend has it, the peace-loving residents of Venus loved gardening, playing with children, throwing potlucks, deriving equations from the spirals in snail shells, inventing mythologies to explain their place in the universe, and making music.  These Venusians were eager to catch a glimpse of their closest celestial neighbors as the first Transit of Venus drew near.  Many of them gathered to make the beautiful, ethereal music with their voices for which Venusians are famed all throughout the galaxy, as a gift to the Earthlings.

Venus began her passage with a dance, shaking her hips, trailing ribbons of brightly colored gases, putting on a celestial show that reflected the joyous lives of her inhabitants.  The Venusians looked down in great anticipation at the Earth.  To their surprise and dismay, they saw a scarred, polluted planet.  Worse, the Earthlings were not even looking up at Venus, because they were too busy killing each other.  Even worse, no music came from Earth.  The Venusians shuddered in horror.

In the eight years between that first transit and the second, the Venusians feared that the violent Earthlings might plan to blow Venus straight out of the sky with a giant killing machine on her second pass.  The day of the second crossing, some Venusians hid in their basements or in specially built shelters.  Some gathered in groups to prepare for the annihilation.  But most simply strained to get a glimpse of what was going on down there on Earth.  As Earth came into their line of sight, the anxious Venusians saw that, while some Earthlings were still pillaging the planet and killing each other, many, many more were doing something they had learned during Venus’s previous passage: they were making music.  What’s more, they had invented something new by setting words to music, which had never been done on Venus.  The Earthlings were so excited to communicate with their neighbors that they had even made signs in honor of the Transit of Venus.  Astronomers held diagrams detailing what they’d learned about the solar system from observing the first Transit.  Painters held up lovely likenesses of their neighboring planet.  Children raised their hands and waved.  “They did notice us last time!” exclaimed the Venusians, and waved back enthusiastically.  The wise old women simply smiled and said nothing.  And everyone rejoiced.

So every century, as the two planets observe each other under the Sun’s benevolent beaming gaze, we celebrate the power of music to keep violence at bay, to bring out our better selves, and to unite people across cultures, languages, and some 261 million kilometers of space.  In honor of this sacred day, we have prepared a special performance of songs with words by some of Earth’s greatest songwriters – performed with decidedly Venusian flair – to celebrate the art we have created together in the spirit of peace and interstellar understanding.


Poster by D’Arcy Bertrand