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From My Bookshelf: Poetry by Yehoshua November

I’ve mentioned the poetry of Yehoshua November in blog posts before, generally within link roundups. But I’ve just had the chance to read November’s new collection, Two Worlds Exist. And even if I don’t feel equipped to write a full-fledged review of this (or, frankly, any other poetry book), I want to draw your attention to this beautiful volume. (Especially at the start of the #Readukkah celebration!)

These are poems about prayer, and marriage, and parenting (and parenting a child who has a disability). And loss. Some are spare; all are powerful.

Reading this collection–which I did in a single sitting–I was struck anew with the realization of how “diverse” Jewish literature is, not merely in comparison with writing that reflects other traditions and cultures, but also within itself. November’s Judaism is not quite the same as my Judaism, and so along with the proverbial and familiar “mirrors” that I discovered as I read there I also encountered, perhaps more importantly, many quietly dramatic “windows.”

Here are just a few places online where you can find a few of the poems that appear in this book: Continue reading ›

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From My Bookshelf: THE PEOPLE AND THE BOOKS

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 ›

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From My Bookshelf

Sulak_GidaliLast 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 ›

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From My Bookshelf: A DOOR WITH A VOICE by Katie Manning

A-Door-with-a-Voice-CoverI’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 ›

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Midweek Notes from a Practicing Writer

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.

ElieWiesel

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 ›

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Midweek Notes from a Practicing Writer

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.

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(Special thanks to Afshine Emrani, M.D., for taking this photo from the print issue and sharing it on Twitter!)

Invite Me!

Continue reading ›

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