The brilliant Adam Kirsch has a new book out, and it’s a must-read for anyone who’s truly seeking to educate themselves in Jewish history and literature. Here’s the wrinkle: Unless you’ve already benefited from a pretty comprehensive Jewish education, The People and the Books will likely make you want to place on your own to-read list each of the 18 “classics of Jewish literature” that it analyzes. And since some of titles discussed—take the Zohar, for instance—total thousands of pages and require multiple volumes, that list is going to get much, much longer.
I’ve decided to begin with a less ambitious goal. Having read through Kirsch’s new book, and recognizing my own reading preferences, I’m going add to my tbr list only five of the titles discussed in The People and the Books. For now.
The five I’ve chosen: Continue reading ›
Last week I had the great pleasure of attending a celebration in honor of Marcela Sulak and her new translation, Twenty Girls to Envy Me: Selected Poems of Orit Gidali (University of Texas Press). Sulak is another writer I’ve become acquainted with online. She is the author of three collections of poetry and three earlier book-length translations. She directs the Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar Ilan University, where she is an associate professor of English. She also hosts the weekly “Israel in Translation” podcast on TLV1 FM, which you’ll see listed on the My Machberet blogroll.
The evening gathering in New York was absolutely lovely. And I was able to purchase a copy of the new book, which I greedily read this weekend. Continue reading ›
I’ve become acquainted with Katie Manning and her work via the Poetry Has Value project, where we’re both contributing bloggers. And that is how I learned about her new poetry chapbook. Titled A Door with a Voice and published by Agape Publications/Sundress Publications, this work comprises 16 poems. (And you can download it at no cost!)
Before you reach the poems, you find this artist’s statement: “I am tired of people taking language from the Bible out of context and using it as a weapon against other people, so I started taking language from the Bible out of context and using it to create art. My process was to use the last chapter from one book of the Bible as a word bank for each poem. This is either the most heretical or the most reverent thing I’ve ever written.”
This approach piqued my interest for a couple of reasons. Continue reading ›
Elie Wiesel (1928-2016)
Have spent a lot of time these past several days thinking of Elie Wiesel, who died Saturday at the age of 87.
I was in his presence three times: first, attending a 1986 lecture of his following the Nobel prize announcement; next, at a much smaller event, a lunch during my senior year of college (shortly after I’d written a paper that quoted frequently from his book From the Kingdom of Memory); and finally, just a few years ago at a New York City fundraiser (again, a large event). I’ve read much (but not enough) of his work. And over these past several days, I’ve been reading many of the tributes. Continue reading ›
A Notable Reprint
I’m honored that Jewish Journal chose to re-publish my poem, “Questions for the Critics,” in last week’s edition, coinciding with Israel’s Independence Day.
(Special thanks to Afshine Emrani, M.D., for taking this photo from the print issue and sharing it on Twitter!)
Continue reading ›
Blue Card on My Mind
An article in Saturday’s New York Times titled “Holocaust Survivors’ Needs Become Acute With Age” (that’s the title in my print newspaper; online, the headline reads, “As Holocaust Becomes More Distant, Survivors’ Needs Intensify”) seemed acutely well-timed to me, for a couple of reasons.
First, we’re approaching Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, which (according to the Hebrew calendar), will be observed next week. And second, I’ve recently sent in my Q1 donation, based on sales of Quiet Americans, to The Blue Card. I’ve spoken before about why I remain committed to sharing portions of sale proceeds with The Blue Card, but this is an appropriate time of year to give the organization another shoutout for the essential work that it does.
Also in My Thoughts Continue reading ›