Cheryl J. Fish

Current City, State, Country

New York, New York, USA

Birth City, State, Country

Bronx, New York, USA


Cheryl J. Fish is a poet, fiction writer, and environmental humanities scholar. Her debut novel Off The Yoga Mat, the story of three characters coming-of-middle age, was published by Livingston Press/UWA in Oct. 2022. She is the author of The Sauna is Full of Maids, poems and photographs celebrating Finnish sauna culture, the natural world, and friendships, and Crater & Tower, poems reflecting on trauma and ecology after the Mount St. Helens Volcanic eruption and the terrorist attack of 9/11. Fish has flash prose, “My Grandfather, a Refugee, Lined Up Outside the American Consulate in Marseilles” forthcoming in New Voices: Contemporary Writers Confront the Holocaust, and she has published poems in The Bloomsbury Anthology of  Contemporary Jewish American Poetry, and Ghosts of the Holocaust: An Anthology of  Poetry by the Second Generation. Her essay “A Jewish Mother Thinks About the Value of a Jewish Education,” appeared in Busted Halo. Fish has been a Fulbright professor in Finland and is a co-editor with Farah Griffin of A Stranger in the Village: Two Centuries of African-American Travel Literature. Fish’s poems have appeared in Hanging Loose, Maintenant, Terrain, Mom Egg Review, Response, New American Writing, Reed, Santa Monica Review, ISLE and Poetics for the More-than-Human-World. Her short fiction has appeared in Cheap Pop, Iron Horse Literary Review, Liars League, Spank the Carp, Boog City, and KGB Bar Lit. Her published essays on environmental justice through art, film and media include “Extractivism” in Sápmi: “Elegiac Ecojustice” in Liselotte Wajstedt’s Film Kiruna Space Road and Marja Helander’s Silence Photographs,” in the collection Nordic Narratives of Nature and the Environment (Lexington Books, 2018). She was a guest blogger for Environmental History with her piece Indigenous Art Collectives: Environmental/Social Justice Protests Through Artvism and Direct-Action Protest.” Fish is a creative writing editor of the journal Ecocene, a professor of English at BMCC/City University of New York and docent lecturer at University of Helsinki. She is @cheryljoyfish on Twitter and Instagram.

What is the relationship between Judaism and/or Jewish culture and your poetry?

The relationship between Judaism and Jewish culture informs who I am and what I write, the ways in which I relate to the world as an activist, a teacher, and a creative person who had one side of my family perish in the Holocaust.  I believe writing can be a form of  tikkun olam and poetry a deep meditation. I am drawn to research, landscape and myth, and I sometimes write about those in our world who have been oppressed, historically and presently. I relate to the activist aspect of Jewish history and culture, as well as the brillant and diverse creativity and spirit, the desire and curiousity to learn and to debate, to laugh and to persist. Whether or not my poetry is about so called Jewish subjects, I believe the culture and spirit, our soul and our striving come from some deep well that Jewish culture, my family, and my experience has provided.

Published Works

The Sauna is Full of Maids: Poems and Photographs (Shanti Arts, 2021)
Crater & Tower (Duck Lake Books, 2020)
Make It Funny, Make It Last (chapbook; Belladonna, 2014)

Off The Yoga Mat (Livingston Press/University of West Alabama, 2022)

Literary Criticism
Black and White Women’s Travel Narratives: Antebellum Explorations (University Press of Florida, 2004)
A Stranger in the Village: Two Centuries of African-American Travel Writing, Co-Editor, with Farah J. Griffin (Beacon Press, 1999)

Author Site

Links to Sample Works

Video Reading

Current Title

Professor of English, Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York


Michigan State University, B.A. in Journalism and English
Brooklyn College, M.F.A. in Creative Writing
City University of New York, The Graduate School and University Center, Ph.D. in English and American Literature, Women’s Studies Certificate

Subject Matter