Friday, November 15, 2013
A Cool New Book by My Bedside or: Coming Out as a Jewish Poet
I don't often come out as a Jewish poet but here I am in The Bloomsbury Anthology of Jewish American Poetry. Thank you to the editors Deborah Ager and Matt Silverman for including me in this important anthology. I am especially grateful that the editors decided to blend more traditionally Jewish themes with more global concerns. For example, included are three poems by Ed Hirsch including his iconic "The Sleepwalkers" alongside "Yahrzeit Candle" and "Elegy for the Jewish Villages." I love this juxtaposition between the popular, well anthologized poem and the two less well known pieces. The anthology allows for a holistic approach to Judaism and to poetry.
Other favorites in this necessary book include Jane Hirshfield's, "In a Kitchen Where Mushrooms Were Washed," Lynn Levin's "Eve and Lilith Go to Macy's" and Yehoshua November's, "A Jewish Poet." Strangely, the poets are all lined up in alphabetical order without chapters or sections of any sort. What I like is the democratization of all these poets -- some famous and some not so much. And I see the editors' dilemma that as soon as one begins to put the poems into categories "The Sleepwalkers" would need to part company from "Yahrzeit Candle." In the end, I agree that the editors did a mitzvah by letting the alphabet determine the order of poets. This is one more way that this anthology breaks the mold.
As a Pacific Northwest poet who knows exactly two Jewish poets in the Seattle area (sadly neither are included in this anthology) I am thrilled to be included in these pages. Here is my tribe --- or one of my tribes --- and I look forward to more time with this anthology which would make a really wonderful Hanukah gift.