Reviews & Press
Birthright was published on November 5, 2019. On this page, you will find reviews, interviews, and other coverage.
Reviews, profiles, and other shout-outs
- “Dreifus’ poems have appeared in many newspapers, literary journals and on websites, but when they are brought together…recurring themes of family, Jewish identity and women’s power are evident….Highly recommended for libraries that collect poetry, this quintessentially Jewish poetry collection would work well in the classroom or with a reading group.”—Chava Pinchuck, in a review for the Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) News & Reviews.
- “Birthright serves as a platform for Dreifus to share her more personal insights, something she does with integrity, perception, and historical perspective. As such, it is a warm invitation to delve into her roots, and our own. As the poetry unfolds, the reader follows not only Dreifus’ journey back into her own family’s past, but also her understanding of the biblical backdrop of our existence, particularly as it plays out in the lives of women.”—Joanna Chen, in a guest poetry review for Reading Jewish Fiction.
- “Erika Dreifus’ first book of poems, ‘Birthright’ (Kelsay Books), includes the very timely — and timeless — ‘Miriam, Quarantined,’ in which the poet imagines what the biblical Miriam might have been pondering while in quarantine. ‘Dayenu’ inspires readers to think anew of the four children mentioned in the Haggadah. And ‘A Single Woman of Valor” is a brave and beautiful work.’ Her reflective poems are stories, some based in her study of Jewish texts, all informed by a deep engagement with Jewish life.“—Sandee Brawarsky, Culture Editor, The Jewish Week, in a feature on Passover gifts for 2020/5780.
- “Erika Dreifus is one of our brightest literary lights….‘Birthright’ is exceptionally rich and provocative, earnest and intimate, fully as accessible as an overheard conversation and yet deeply rooted in both Jewish history and Jewish arts and letters.” From Jonathan Kirsch’s Jewish Journal review.
- “These accessible meditations on being a Jewish woman, a Zionist, a critical consumer of social media, and a witness to violence committed and averted reflect a soul dedicated to repairing the world with smarts, spirit, sincerity, and a bit of snark.” So writes Helene Meyers in a review of Birthright for Lilith.
- “The poems in Birthright often feel like stories in miniature, replete with setting, character, dialogue, and plot, across a wide variety of registers and contexts, ranging from biblical to personal, familiar to historical, literary to political. Poems that draw from biblical stories are interspersed with personal stories, which productively complicates both types of poems.” From Lucy Biederman’s review for the Jewish Book Council.
- “The poems in ‘Birthright’…have a profoundly Jewish sensibility. They focus on ancestors immigrating from Germany to escape persecution in the years preceding the Holocaust, prayer and ritual, biblical characters, and Israel. They are deeply personal, critical and wry, and aggressively political.” Ahead of the November launch, New Jersey Jewish News‘s Johanna Ginsberg profiles the book and its author.
- The Jewish Week’s Fall Arts Guide Book List introduces Birthright to readers, noting that the book “includes midrash-like reflections on traditional texts, riffs on contemporary events and personal stories about family and faith, anchored in history.”
- “If you’re someone who appreciates fresh poetry with overtly Jewish themes, this is the collection for you.” So writes Alma‘s Emily Burack in a preview of “Favorite Books for Fall.”
- “Fighting Words,” a poem in Birthright, was re-published by Verse Daily as the site’s selection for December 24, 2020.
- “Mannheim,” another poem in Birthright, was re-published on the website of the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature for Yom HaShoah 5780 (April 2020). “Mannheim” was also re-published earlier on the website of WinningWriters.com.
- In November 2019, Kelsay Books nominated one of Birthright‘s poems for a Pushcart Prize. That poem, “A Single Woman of Valor,” was also published by the Jewish Book Council’s PB [Paper Brigade] Daily earlier in the month. (You can hear more about this poem in an episode of “The Rabbi’s Husband” podcast, linked in the “Audio/Video” section below.)
- Another excerpt: “Hypothetical Life,” which appears in Birthright, has been re-published by YourDailyPoem.com.
- When National Poetry Month and Yom HaShoah converged in April 2021, I was proud to read the opening poem in Birthright, “Pünktlichkeit,” for The New York Society Library’s #30DaysOfPoetry video series.
- Alongside sister poets Erika Meitner, Alicia Jo Rabins, and Alicia Ostriker, I was invited to participate in a Jewish women’s poetry reading for the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism in March 2021.
- Jerusalism’s August 2020 virtual open-mic event began with my featured reading from Birthright: Poems and a conversation with host Zev Hoffman.
- On “The Rabbi’s Husband” podcast, host Mark Gerson and I talked about the Eshet Chayil text that informs one of the book’s poems, “A Single Woman of Valor” (also mentioned above).
- I was delighted to take part in Literary Modiin’s inaugural Virtual Author Event, alongside Ellen Meeropol and Sandell Morse, hosted by Julie Zuckerman (recorded May 31, 2020).
- Birthright and I briefly addressed The Book of Life’s audience as part of that podcast’s “Books in the Time of Coronavirus” series.
- Catch my first full-fledged online reading, a wonderful hour hosted by Hidden Timber Books (recorded April 5, 2020).
- A brief video in which I share “Miriam, Quarantined,” from Birthright, at the request of the Jewish Book Council.
- If you’d like a side order of music with your poetry, you’ll want to check out this eclectic, Birthright-inspired playlist that I assembled for Largehearted Boy.
- Birthright & I were honored to be featured in Ruben Quesada’s “Poetry Today” feature for the Kenyon Review blog.
- “Introvert, extrovert, or ambivert?” I learned a new word when I answered Liza Wiemer’s questions for the WhoRu blog.
- Adina Kopinsky dug deep into several of Birthright‘s poems in this interview for Tell Tell Poetry.
- So many thoughtful questions came my way in this Q&A with Christi Craig.
- You’ll find details on the sequencing of the poems in the collection, and more, in this Book Q&A with Deborah Kalb.
- In a “Poet’s Notebook” feature for The Whole Megillah I answer a few questions from Barbara Krasner.
- “Have you faced any challenges as an author that are specific to your identity as a Jewish writer in this time and place?” That’s just one of the questions Faye Rapoport DesPres posed to me for her “Writers in the Trenches” online interview series.
And this one gets its own spotlight: I’m moved to be included in Yi Shun Lai’s National Poetry Month post “Six Poets I Love Beyond Their Poetry.”