Reprinted from Birthright: Poems.
I am grateful to the editors of the publications in which these poems, some in earlier versions, first appeared.
- 929: “Complicity,” “Miriam, Quarantined”
- Adanna: “Umbilicus”
- Alyss: “Wherever You’ve Gone, Joe DiMaggio”
- American Journal of Nursing: “The Autumn of H1N1”
- Babel Fruit: “Thirteen Ways of Looking at My Latest Cold”
- Christian Science Monitor: “Meteorology”
- Forward: “Family Plots” (as “Mount Zion”), “September 1, 1946”
- Haaretz: “Ode to a Rescuer”
- Hevria: “Black Sheep in the World to Come”
- The Hollins Critic: “Fighting Words”
- Jewcy: “Birthright,” “Sabbath Rest 2.0”
- Jewess: “The Book of Vashti”
- Jewish Currents: “Aftermath” (2017/5778 Jewish New Year supplement)
- Jewish Journal: “The O-Word,” “Pharaoh’s Daughter Addresses Linda Sarsour,” “This Woman’s Prayer”
- Lilith: “Dinah Speaks” (as “A Poem for Vayishlach”), “Kaddish for My Uterus”
- Medical Journal of Australia: “Homage to My Skull”
- MissouriReview.com: “Jerusalem Dream”
- Moment Magazine: “Abel’s Brother Anticipates Lady Macbeth: A Soliloquy,” “Dayenu,” “On Reading Chapter 19 in the Book of Judges,” “Pünktlichkeit”
- New Vilna Review: “Diaspora: A Prose Poem,” “Mannheim,” “Sisters, or Double Chai”
- qartsilunni: “With or Without”
- ReformJudaism.org: “Questions for the Critics,” “Unsolved Mysteries of Samson and Delilah”
- Rhyme On Poetry Contest 2018 e-book: “When Your Niece Attends a Jewish Day School”
- Silver Birch Press: “Self-Portrait with Root Rescue™”
- The Sunlight Press: “Hypothetical Life,” “On Refinding My First Crush on Facebook,” “The Smell of Infection”
- Tablet: “The Awakening,” “The First Night,” “Ruth’s Regret”
- Theories of Her (anthology): “Vocabulary Lesson, 1977,” “We Are All Bag Ladies”
- Whale Road Review: “The End of the Lines”
- The Wild Word: “A Walker in the Post-Blizzard City”
- Writing the Words: “My Mother’s Olivetti”
- Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine: “Solar Damage”
Additional appreciation goes to the Loudoun County (Va.) Public Library for selecting “When Your Niece Attends a Jewish Day School” for honorable mention (free verse) in the 2018 Rhyme On Poetry Contest; Whale Road Review for nominating “The End of the Lines” for a Pushcart Prize; Manhattan Jewish Experience and judge Yehoshua November for selecting “Comforts of Home” as winner of the 2017 Poetry Contest; and Reesa Grushka, whose Missouri Review essay “Arieh” sourced the composition of “Jerusalem Dream,” which was recognized with honorable mention by the 2012 “Art of Omission” contest from The Missouri Review/textBOX.
And, of course, I’m immensely thankful to publisher Karen Kelsay and the Kelsay Books team for welcoming my manuscript and giving it such a lovely home.
In many ways, Birthright has been a lifetime work-in-progress. But more technically speaking, work on these poems began in 2007; the book that you’re reading now developed over 12 years thanks to direct instruction and inspiration from the following: the Achayot (especially, above and beyond, Sivan Rotholz, Talia Liben Yarmush, and Suzanne Reisman); Amy Gottlieb’s “Jewish Sources, Literary Narrative” classes at Drisha Institute (New York); Matthew Lippman’s online poetry-writing classes with Gotham Writers Workshop; Sage Cohen’s online “Poetry for the People” courses; Kathleen Graber’s Poetry Manuscript workshop at the Vermont College of Fine Arts Postgraduate Writers Conference; Wendy Zierler’s class on “The Secular Israeli Religious Renaissance: Israeli Poetry and Prayer” at Park Avenue Synagogue (New York); and a session led by Cheryl Pallant that I had the opportunity to sit in on when I was guest faculty at the Red Earth MFA program in Oklahoma City. (Looking back to my own MFA experience some years prior to 2007, I remain grateful to several faculty poets from that time—most of all, Richard Chess—for treating this aspiring fictionist so kindly and helping me begin to grasp the power and potential of poetry.)
Perhaps not coincidentally, 2007 is also the year that brought me back to the city of my birth and marked the beginning of my employment at The City University of New York (CUNY). During the seven years that I remained on staff at the central office, I had the good fortune to work alongside many wonderful colleagues who showed interest in my writing; I connected, too, with a number of exemplary, encouraging poets and other writers across the CUNY campuses. Since my return to New York I’ve also been lucky to engage with the intellectually enriching communities of the Jewish Book Council and the New York Society Library, among others.
Birthright simply would not exist without the loving, generous presence of too many friends, family members, and assorted champions to name. I thank you all—and I hope that somehow, somewhere, the dear ones already in the world to come are watching this book make its way into this one.
Finally, a concluding shout-out to Sefaria (Sefaria.org), a source for many of the biblical citations/translations that appear throughout this collection. “For the Jewish people,” the site explains, “our texts are our collective inheritance.” You might even say that they are our birthright.