Local writer and retired English teacher Mel Goldberg published his first book of poetry and photography, The Cyclic Path, in 1990. In addition his poetry, stories, and articles have appeared in numerous magazines in the United States and England. When he wrote his first novel Choices in 1993 he turned to the self-publishing print-on-demand company iUniverse. He continues to write and promote his work. See below for a short biography and the part the Waukegan Public Library played in his writing life.
Mel Goldberg grew up in Chicago, and began writing skits and plays in elementary school, which he and a few friends produced for the neighborhood kids.
In high school he wrote a play about military life, which the drama department produced. That was when his determination to become a writer was born. When his early poetry was published in his college literary magazine at Northern Illinois University, he thought, ‘Well, hey, this won’t be too hard!’ That’s when he found out how wrong he was. Although he wrote extensively, he was published infrequently.
After graduating from NIU, he moved to Los Angeles where he taught high school literature, produced a newspaper, edited a literary magazine, and continued writing and publishing in small literary magazines.
After he earned his MA at California State University at Long Beach, he began to publish more often. His payment was usually a copy or two of the magazine, and very seldom, money. After teaching in Los Angeles for 13 years, he returned to the Midwest, where he taught high school literature, journalism, and magazine publication in Waukegan, Illinois. He continued to publish poetry and stories regularly, five or six times a year, and in 1986, became an adjunct teacher at the College of Lake County in Grayslake, Illinois.
In 1990 he became a Fulbright Exchange Teacher to Stanground College in Cambridgeshire, England, thirty miles from the great universities at Cambridge. Living in the town of Stilton, which is famous for the cheese which was never made there, he published poetry in several English literary magazines.
In 1994, a year after he retired from teaching in Waukegan, he moved to Sedona, Arizona, becoming an adjunct teacher of literature and creative writing at Yavapai College in Clarkdale, Arizona.
His first book, published in 1990, was The Cyclic Path, a book of poetry and photography. A chapbook of poetry and photography, Sedona Poems, was written for the 2002 centennial of Sedona.
His poetry, stories, and articles have been published in numerous magazines, including Anthology, Amelia, Midstream, and Futures Mystery Anthology, as well as Acumen, Kiss the Sky, The Third Half and others in England. His stories and poetry have also appeared on-line on Mocha Memoirs, Orchard Press Mysteries and HandHeld Crime.
Recently, Mel and his partner Beverly Kephart, a professional artist, sold their home in Sedona along with most of their possessions to travel full-time in a 35 foot RV with their tow Bichons, Max, and Cayce.
“Libraries and books have always had a great impact on my life. Growing up in Chicago, I spent many days at the great downtown Chicago Public Library. At that time, there were stacks of old books and a reading room filled with old tables and lamps with green shades. I marveled at the stale smell of books in the stacks, offering the world at my fingertips. During my many years as a teacher in Waukegan high schools and at the College of Lake County, I spent countless afternoons and evenings in the Waukegan Public Library. I even had the opportunity to meet one of my literary heroes, Ray Bradbury, who corresponded with me and several of my students. And I endeavored to see that my students had the opportunity to learn the numerous ways a library can enrich their lives. Through library books, I entered the world of Plato and Aristotle. I listened to discourses on the best way to govern a republic. I learned about drama and literature, information I was able to share with my students. I learned about the great philosophers, and shared their ideas with my students, also. Immanuel Kant taught that we should never use people for our own ends, but treat them as valuable in themselves, a lesson that made me a better teacher. This is the lesson Miss Havisham finally learns in Dickens’ Great Expectations, but only after she ruins several lives, including her own. Bertrand Russell told me a good society will honor both its philosophers and its plumbers if it wants its ideas and its pipes to hold water. The library helped me learn why Moby Dick is a great novel, and why the great white whale is the symbol of enduring power. How many modern novels measure up to the immensity of Herman Melville’s creation? With the help of Mark Twain, I learned to laugh at some of the writing of James Fenimore Cooper, and I learned why Hemingway called Twain the greatest American writer ever. For the more than twenty years I lived in Waukegan, the Waukegan Library was my doorway to the world of ideas – philosophy, literature, religion, art, and even music and film. My life would have been drab and dull without it.”