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Poetry

Sephardi Women in the United States

Sephardic Jews constitute only a small proportion of American Jewry. Although they comprised the majority of American Jewry during the colonial period, that majority never exceeded twenty-five hundred prior to the American Revolution. By the nineteenth century, the Sephardi community was vastly outnumbered by Ashkenazim. Nevertheless, a few outstanding Sephardi personalities captured public notice.

Grace Seixas Nathan

Grace Seixas was born in Stratford, Connecticut, on November 11, 1752, into a family that loved both America and Jewishness and encouraged learning for all of its members. She began writing poetry as a young woman and continued this pursuit until her death, although none of her work was published during her lifetime.

Jessie Ethel Sampter

Jessie Sampter was an active writer, a skillful Zionist propagandist, and a seminal Zionist educator. Sampter’s principal legacy is personal rather than literary: her exemplary courage in overcoming illness and standing by her convictions, her attempts to advance the regeneration of Judaism on its native soil and to further economic and social justice, and her vision of a mixed population of Jews and Arabs, living side by side in peace and harmony.

Muriel Rukeyser

During her life, Muriel Rukeyser was often the center of controversy. Critics either loved or hated her; there was seemingly no middle ground. Her poetry sought to embody, with striking verbal and thematic juxtapositions, the unity she believed underlies a world seemingly disconnected.

Ruth Rubin

Ruth Rubin devoted a lifetime to the collection and preservation of Yiddish folklore in poetics and songs. Her writings include books, articles and music collections. As a popular performer-folklorist, she would describe the background of her selections and then sing them in a simple, unaccompanied style.

Adrienne Cecile Rich

Adrienne Rich, one of the best American poets of our time, is not someone who would take pride in the description, “not just a woman poet.” She has shown that, far from being a limiting or qualifying word, “woman” can be a badge of honor. It can speak of possibilities too long unexplored and passions once turned away. It can be a declaration of freedom and of power.

Marge Piercy

Grounded in feminism, political activism, and Jewish spirituality, more than thirty volumes comprise Piercy’s oeuvre.

Grace Paley

Paley has written highly acclaimed short stories, poetry, and reflections on contemporary politics and culture.

Kadya Molodowsky

How can a Yiddish woman writer reconcile her art with Judaism’s definition of a woman’s role? Kadya Molodowsky’s answer to that question in her poems, children’s poems, novels, short stories, essays, plays, autobiography, and journalism, published between 1927 and 1974, evolved into even broader questions about the very survival of Jews in the modern world.

Adah Isaacs Menken

Internationally famous for her starring role in the equestrian melodrama Mazeppa, in which she was stripped on stage to a flesh-colored body stocking, lashed to the back of the “wild horse of Tartary,” and sent flying on a narrow ramp above the theater, Adah Isaacs Menken consistently defied social mores.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Poetry." (Viewed on September 20, 2014) <http://jwa.org/topics/poetry>.

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