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The Book

Bearing Fruit is dedicated to the memory of my beloved sister, Laurie Ellen Neustadt. To honor my sister and to help those wrestling with life challenges that are difficult to bear, the entire purchase price for each copy sold of Bearing Fruit: A Poetic Journey, will be shared among not-for-profits that benefit patients with amyloidosis and/or Waldenström's macroglobulinemia, aid children who have been abused, or use expressive arts as a healing modality. Click here for more information.

 

PRAISE FOR Bearing Fruit

“This close encounter with the shimmering soul of poet and visual artist Leslie Neustadt will leave each fortunate reader with the taste of honey soaked challah in their mouths and stark visions of the sojourn of this girl-becoming-woman in a world cluttered with voices of her elders, of the men who took her power and the raging beauty of her reclamation. The poems will leave the reader’s skin touched by silk and tenderness, hearts pumping with vivid memories tempered by gorgeous prayers for the future. ‘Draw signposts upon your body to mark your way,’ the poet writes in her Grandmother’s voice. Readers may suckle at the breast of this Kali spirited author, who with fierce tongue and ceaseless response meets both transformation and sorrow with equal grace. This collection itself stands as a signpost for readers to guide them through the many transitions life brings. Eloquent and elegant, these poems nourish the reader hungry for soul satisfaction.”

Suzi Banks Baum, author, artist and mother and editor of An Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice

Bearing Fruit: A Poetic Journey
By Leslie B Neustadt
A note from Leslie: Joan Heffler, who photographed the Bearing Fruit book cover, my author photo and select pieces of artwork on this site, is an exceptionally fine photographer and dear friend. I highly recommend Joan to anyone seeking commercial photography services. JoanHefflerPhotography.com.

A note from Leslie: Joan Heffler, who photographed the Bearing Fruit book cover, my author photo and select pieces of artwork on this site, is an exceptionally fine photographer and dear friend. I highly recommend Joan to anyone seeking commercial photography services. JoanHefflerPhotography.com.

"When any of us can truthfully share the deep story of their life and turn their wounds into song, they have not only come into greater wholeness, they have gifted and encouraged others to heal and to sing. In her poetry collection, Leslie Neustadt has done just that. Her book is full of pain and blessing and invites the reader to embrace life's vital paradox. Holding such tension with grace is the deep work of consciousness."

Gunilla Norris, author of Sheltered in the Heart, Being Home, Becoming Bread, A Mystic Garden, Inviting Silence, Simple Ways, and other titles.


“Leslie Neustadt is a gift. Her raw-boned, unvarnished humanity and quest for forgiveness—of both herself and others—resonate throughout the journey on which she takes us. Her poems, at once delicate and compelling, teach us to 'surrender shame' and 'sense true north' in the unmapped territories of our lives. ‘Death's startling kiss’ has indeed honed her vision, so that each poem sings with a quiet insight insisting on being heard. Through moving us deep into her life, these poems move us deeper into our own.” 

Natalie Reid, author of The Spiritual Alchemist: Working with the Voice of Your Soul


“An autobiography in poetry…a life that has borne fruit year after year, finding richness and nourishment in soil that has weathered draughts, high winds and earth shattering quakes. Having buried much and many during her journey, she pauses, turns back, dares to unearth the bones and offers them to us so that we may see and know. Raw and real and fearless. A reader must simply say thank you.”

Molly Bloom, MFT, artist and psychotherapist


Leslie Neustadt's poetry will move you to both laughter and tears. Her authentic voice and amazing insight will carry you to a deeper understanding of her personal journey and your own life. With brave and razor sharp insight, this powerful poet writes of a life fully examined. Her words both sing and sting. Timothy Green stated in Rattle #38, ‘Poems say what cannot be said another way: they construct new worlds in response to the confines of this one...and leave you feeling changed.’ Bearing Fruit will leave you ‘feeling changed.’”

Linda Leedy Schneider, LSMW, writing teacher, mentor and psychotherapist and author of Some Days: Poetry of a Psychotherapist


“Leslie Neustadt’s title poem Bearing Fruit begins: ‘Sometimes truth / has sharp edges / that pierce my skin.’ These lines express a raw intimacy, an unflinching language that reaches out to me throughout this book. Neustadt bears witness to the dark and light experiences which are an integral part of her human and her soul story.  Her poems startle me to feeling and, at times, they soothe.  Despite the wrenching experiences she has endured, she holds a deep capacity for recognizing truth and beauty.”

John Fox, author of Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem-Making

“Neustadt’s personal narrative intersects with social and cultural events taking the reader on a sensate journey from the Civil Rights Movement through modern rap music. Honest about suffering and early abuse, mortality and joy —‘the messy stew of life’— these poems arrive at a devotion to beauty, finding it in the language of names, ‘Seagalit, my purple peanut,’ the Dalai Lama and ‘the lotus of his laughter,’ and in knowledge that keeps us ‘close to the earth.’”

 Myra Shapiro, author of 12 Floors Above the Earth and Four Sublets: Becoming a Poet in New York


“The 72 poems that appear in Leslie Neustadt’s Bearing Fruit are braided like challah, the Sabbath bread which represents the manna given to the ancestors during their long years of wandering. From the beginning of this remarkable collection in which the author journeys into her personal and ancestral past, the reader becomes a spellbound traveling companion, seeking to assemble the configuration of secrets that lay just under the storied surface with the clues clearly revealed. There are many unexpected gifts in careful reading of Leslie’s poetry. But make no mistake: these poems transverse beyond nostalgia in order to find redemption in what is real. Using archetypes, astronomy, hip hop, gastronomy, mathematics, and shamanic dance, Leslie accomplishes a feat of God-wrestling, as she becomes both the one who carries her past in her troubled bones, and the one whose words become our own very healing balm.”

Yael Flusberg, author of The Last of My Village

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Poetry [is] more necessary than ever as a fire to light our tongues.
— Naomi Shihab Nye, "Salting the Ocean: 100 Poems by Young Poets"