Erica Lehrer came to poetry by means of a happy accident in mid-life when a fiction class she desired was oversubscribed and a place in a poetry workshop was offered as a substitute. Encouraged by teachers, colleagues and mentors from various literary communities and poetry programs over the past five years, including Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, Poetry at Round Top, Vermont Studio Center and the San Miguel Poetry Week, Erica has polished her craft and found her voice.

In October 2010, after years of troubling symptoms, Erica Lehrer was diagnosed with multiple system atrophy, a rare, as yet incurable and untreatable neurodegenerative disease. Despite her efforts with regard to physical and vocal therapy, she progressed from an unsteady gait while using a cane to full reliance on using a walker within a year. As for talking, speaking clearly was a thing of the past, and, if possible, she found this even more devastating than her mobility issues.

In the past couple of years, she has transitioned from a person who enjoyed skiing, jogging, dancing, singing, playing the flute and engaging in lengthy conversations effortlessly with myriad folks (she was a lawyer and journalist) to one who could no longer do these things. She considers herself fortunate that poetry came into her life concurrently with the onset of her illness, as it keeps her engaged with language, allows her to express and share her experience and observations with an economy of means and provides her with a supportive community of poets and poetry lovers. While her illness has reduced her level of activity, poetry has allowed her a concentrated way to expand her universe and make new connections.

She is a graduate of Princeton University and NYU School of Law and lives in Houston with her husband, where she has raised a son, a daughter and three literary cats.

Copyright 2011 Erica Lehrer, All rights reserved.