March 21 was World Poetry day — but every day feels like poetry day to Simi Fromen of Englewood.
In a world where we can post things on Facebook and Tumblr, write our own blogs and tweets and texts, the art of putting pen to paper and then turning those papers into an actual book still is a sacred one. Ms. Fromen knows this firsthand as the author of a book of poetry, “Ascending Voice.” What might have started as an exercise in social media posting evolved into so much more than that.
Growing up in Rockland County, Ms. Fromen always was influenced by the strong women in her life. Both of her grandmothers were Holocaust survivors, and were vocal about their experiences. “My maternal grandmother was the most resilient woman and survivor I have ever known,” Ms. Fromen said. “She went through the worst death camps in the Holocaust, yet she always had a smile on her face. Her faith in God never faltered, and I learned so much about believing and knowing there is more to the story from her.”
Ms. Fromen always enjoyed writing, which she began doing when she was 12. But then school and life got in the way and she never took her first love to heart. She even attended the Fashion Institute of Technology. She got married.
And then she got divorced — and then she channeled her feelings of loneliness and isolation into words.
“I would be waiting in the hallway of court for hours, and I would write,” she said. “One of the pieces in my book is called ‘Divorce Court Poetry.’” It was written in the courthouse cafeteria. “My writing was inspirational and empowering rather than angry and resentful. However, it was healing to touch pen to paper again after so many years without it.
“Divorce can be isolating in a community of couples. My wish is for others to read my book and not feel alone, and know they will make it to the other side. “
She also was inspired by the author and screenwriter Jonathan Tropper, whom she met after her divorce. “He read my poetry and said I should just write a book about being in the throes of divorce,” she said. He too was divorced and Ms. Fromen instinctively knew that he was right. “It also made me realize that this could be a real vehicle for inspiration and empowerment for anyone going through something challenging in their lives.
“We all have something and words can be really comforting. I know that they have always been like that for me. If I can reach others and help others, that is just a bonus.”
With the support of her family and friends, Ms. Fromen decided to post one of her poems on the social media platform Instagram. The response was incredible, she said. “The writing community that I have connected with on Instagram has been so empowering. Several have even become close friends.”
Instagram became an important platform for Ms. Fromen. “It was a cathartic process,” she said. “I connected with so many writers and became part of a collaborative group of inspiring artists. So the book was an organic process.”
Ms. Fromen’s brothers, Heshy and Allan Fromen, who both live in Englewood, are very proud of their sister and boasted that “Lianne Rimes, the country singer, follows our sister on Instagram!”
It took Ms. Fromen more than a year to compile the book. “I was finding my voice again, through writing, and that is why the book is titled ‘Ascending Voice,’” she said. One of Fromen’s favorite poems is “The Journey” by Mary Oliver. “In it, she speaks of doing what you need to do, no matter how hard that may be,” Ms. Fromen said. This resonated with her, and helped through the process of compiling her poems. She said that the book is also inspired by yoga, which has had a major influence in her journey of growth and healing. “I have been doing yoga on and off for almost 20 years and have taught yoga to adults and children for 10 years,” she said. And it shows — themes of meditation are woven through some of her work.
Ms. Fromen has three children; two of them go to Ben Porat Yosef in Paramus and one is at the Barnstable Academy in Oakland.
This is Ms. Fromen’s first book; she’s glad that she can self-publish because “I wanted the freedom to speak my truth and I didn’t want anyone to change my voice.” She has used social media to advertise her book; it’s for sale online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.