From My Bookshelf: LOVE NAILED TO THE DOORPOST by Richard Chess

Richard ChessIn addition to being a gifted poet, Richard Chess is a kind and generous teacher whom I was lucky to encounter back when I was an MFA student. Some months ago, the happy news reached me that a new collection of his work was forthcoming. Love Nailed to the Doorpost, which was released earlier this spring, is Chess’s fourth collection to be published by the University of Tampa Press, after Tekiah (1996), Chair in the Desert (2000), and Third Temple (2006).

A number of the pages in this new volume were familiar to me, because they appeared originally as posts in the Image/Patheos “Good Letters” blog series, and I’ve been following Rick’s contributions there for a long time. At first, I was a bit surprised to find these pieces in the book. I hadn’t necessarily perceived the pieces to be poems when I’d first read and admired them as blog posts. (more…)

Midweek Notes from a Practicing Writer

Some writing-related highlights of the past week:

  • Catching up with other subscribers and contributors to Lilith at an evening gathering the magazine hosted in New York.
  • Being interviewed for a podcast for the very first time! And having that podcast be HevriaCast, which means that I got to meet Elad Nehorai “in real life” for the very first time, too.
  • Attending a terrific program that featured authors Matti Friedman and Nicole Krauss in conversation (and that evidently provided audiences the first opportunity to hear Krauss read publicly from her forthcoming novel).
  • Receiving an acceptance for a poem that will be published in time for the annual reading of the Torah portion Naso (early June). This is especially nice because of course, the week also brought some typical rejections. Stay tuned: I’ll share the poem when it’s available.
  • Two good reads: Dorit Rabinyan’s All the Rivers (trans. Jessica Cohen) and Richard Chess’s latest poetry collection, Love Nailed to the Doorpost.
  • More next time!

    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: (more…)

    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: (more…)

    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. (more…)