Having received an M.F.A from the Iowa Workshop years ago, Claudia Reder then obtained a Ph.D. in Educational Theater (Storytelling) to continue her work as a creative drama/movement teacher. She participated in arts in education programming in New York City. In the midst of publishing her Ph.D. thesis, her life was upended by a sudden illness. The internet was in early stages in those days. She journeyed from doctors to health practitioners trying to figure out what was going on. Unable to work, she tried to care for her eight year old daughter. The main question she asked herself was: If I am not able to work again, what do I want to do? The answer was: write poems.
Her first book, My Father & Miro, won the Bright Hill book award (1996), selected by Colette Inez. How to Disappear (Blue Light Press, 2019) won the Pinnacle and Feathered Quill awards.
How to Disappear is a poetic memoir. The poems express the conflicts between child, mother, and grandmother. Her mother and family escaped the Nazis in 1939. She was very close to her Russian grandmother, Asya Kadis, a psychotherapist in New York City. Growing up around Eastern European relatives, she easily slips into those familiar intonations and gestures.
Other awards include Millay Colony residency, NAPA Writers’ Conference, and The Valley. She received two PA Arts Council literature fellowships. She was awarded the Charlotte Newberger Poetry Prize from Lilith Magazine and first prize for poems from International Quarterly. Many poems are published in magazines including: Alaska Quarterly Review, Feminist Review, Poetry Northwest, Healing Muse, and Nimrod. For many years she was a poet in the schools and a storyteller in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey.
Moving to California from the east coast in the late 1990s, she offered writing and story making workshops in community centers and assisted living facilities. She taught Children’s Literature, Poetry Workshop, and more at California State University at Channel Islands. In her classes she incorporated and passed on her love of literature, poetry, and creative work to her students. Recently retired, she is writing and completing a new manuscript and a book on writing with young children (k-3).