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.

Life After Life

A piece from a Succulent Words workshop participant on the theme of “coming back as something else after this life.”


When I had an abortion at 19 years old I thought it was the end. The end of my first pregnancy and hiding it. The end of worry and the end of that first dose of wonder at my magical woman’s body. Throughout the years I thought of that extricated cluster of joined but undefined cells from time to time—not so much with sadness and never with regret, but with curiosity at what those cells would have added up to. When I thought of them, they always felt male and that added to the mystery that a different sex than mine could—literally—emerge from my female sex. When I was pregnant years later, it also felt male. And when, bathed in dawn’s pink and feminine rays he emerged from my womanness onto our bedroom sheets, I put him on my chest against my bulging breast and whispered, “Thanks for coming back and not holding that first attempt against me.”

– Sabriga Turgon


Yo Future Creatures

A poem from a Succulent Words participant on the theme of “What would you tell the creatures who inherit earth after humans are extinct?”


Yo Future Creatures


Do you notice

the waste

the excess

the single point of focus

the gluttony

the remains of our mistakes?



can you see

the kindness

the ways we tried to stretch ourselves

the struggle to be aware

and take care

of this spinning sphere that holds you now?


– Pati Boyle


Here is another piece of writing by a participant in the 3-week Succulent Words workshop at Succulence. The exercise was to imagine burying elements from the past year in the ground so that they can be transformed and grow into something new.



Deep, dark, dank

Moist, barren

Bad tooth


Fetus: anger’s bait and switch

Wilted foliage

Abandoned garden

Untended life

Breathing into another form


Zippered words and strength

Stay down!

I shall speak again.

Dirty (not so) old men-


of my house

Bury… alone

Separate hole.

Alone, alone.

Lost in the woods


You are never lost,

Never cold,

Never hungry

You are tired!

Seal a cap on my toil

Bring it to a boil!

Bury the pain first.


Natalie Hopner

The Garden of My Life

Here is a piece by a participant from the 3-week Succulent Words Writing Workshop. The writing exercise this came from was to imagine yourself as a tree, and to write about your community in that light.

The Garden of My Life

In the Garden of My life I am one of those city cherry blossoms that you gaze as you walk around Hayes Valley, trees that were freshly planted but were never new. Like those trees, I always felt like I had different lives and in different settings. Trees that are supported by manly created wooden structures, not so organic as other lets admit it, but so freaking eager to get grounded and to give love to those around them.

Because I mean those trees are being planted to give beauty and love to those who dare to be disrupted by the present moment, maybe in a very urban and ironic way. But hey! They are landscaping and when you, human beings, feel quite lost in the cold, grey & constant changing weather of San Francisco, if you are aware enough to find one of those middle sized, pretty handicapped trees, you would smile. 
I feel supported mechanically, a little by my own invention, a little by the creation of the cosmos. I look up to other trees that have deep roots that go as deep as to the earth´s center. But I am not one of them, and its Ok. I am one more like a Boddhistava, renounced to that level of comfort and drifted away from home – to find another home every once in a while – and maybe someday will fly away.

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 blogRegister for the upcoming three-week Succulent Words workshop to do some healing writing of your own!


“I am floral
with hard and soft pieces…”

– from ‘Myself, The Jungle’ by Addie E.

From Myself, The Jungle, written by a participant in last week’s Succulent Words writing workshop at Succulence, inspired by the prompt: “If you were a place, today, where would you be?” Read the whole piece on her blog, and share your own place in the comments.

Coming soon…

The Heal Write blog will feature writing by Heal Write workshop participants, as well as links to interesting articles and websites about writing and healing. If you have a piece of writing that was inspired by a Heal Write workshop that you’d like to share with the community, please send it to me and I will post it to the blog.