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Poetry

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Can I Ask You a Question?

Jewesses With Attitude

Naomi Eisenberg’s spoken word poem Can I Ask You a Question? speaks for itself. Created in honor of her mother’s 25 years in the rabbinate, Naomi tackles questions of gender and equality in Judaism—and in our society at large.

Topics: Feminism, Rabbis, Poetry
Ruth in Boaz's Field by Julius Schnorr von Carlosfeld,  1828

An Un-Love Song

Dana

An Un-Love Song is written as a psalm to Shavuot, which is associated with one of the most beautiful, celebratory poems in history, the Song of Songs. However, it’s written in the style of a Lamentation, as a response to heartbreaking acts of aggression towards women and children in the misappropriated name of religion. The poem addresses current events against a backdrop of Biblical recounting, including the Mount Sinai experience, the sin of worshipping the golden calf, the subsequent breaking of the original Tablets, and the story of Ruth and Naomi. It is a decidedly feminist poem.

Topics: Shavuot, Poetry
Adele Margolis

Adele at 100

Ellen Steinbaum

What better way to end our chapter on poetry than with a poem by Ellen Steinbaum. Ellen's poem, "Adele at 100", is inspired by writer and teacher Adele Margolis. This particular poem is from her new book, Brightness Falls, which will be out in September.

Topics: Poetry
Voices of Jewish Poets Logo

Behind the Words: Reflections on the Poetry Process

Etta King Heisler

Each poem I write is about a person or relationship and the feelings and sensations I associate with him/her/them/it. Some explore connections with friends or family, while others dissect my relationship with God or with myself. I usually write in moments of clarity—not as a means of working through an idea or problem. Rather the poem is a record of a conclusion or discovery I have made, or perhaps poses a question for which I have decided to seek an answer.

Topics: Poetry
Wendy Drexler

I Write to Pay Attention

Wendy Drexler

Flannery O’Connor once said, “How do I know what I mean until I see what I’ve said?

Topics: Holocaust, Poetry
Waves Crashing on a Beach

Tracing My Ancestry Through Poetry

Michelle Provorny Cash

A few years after my grandfather passed away, my mother mentioned that for years he had refused to eat Spanish olives. I asked her why, and she said that he could trace his family history back to the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492 and that this was his form of protest.

Topics: Poetry
Women of the Wall Prayer Service in Gan Miriam, Jerusalem

When a Woman Cannot Mourn

Jennifer Rudick Zunikoff

The Women of the Wall have been fighting for a woman’s right to pray at the Western Wall since 1988.

Today’s featured poet, Jennifer Rudick Zunikoff, responds to the latest challenge facing these women- the right to say Kaddish and mourn at the Western Wall.

Topics: Prayer, Poetry
Jaffa Streets

Travelogue for National Poetry Month

Jordyn Rozensky

Throughout the month of April we will be introducing you to a wide variety of Jewish poets and their poetry.

I’m honored to present the first poet in the series, Annie Jacobs.

Topics: Poetry
Dorothy Parker

Putting “All Her Eggs in One Bastard” –– Happy Birthday, Dorothy Parker!

Deborah Fineblum Raub

On August 22, 1893, a child was born who would make the world a decidedly wittier place.

"Butterfly Summers" Front Cover By Deborah Thompson

Celebrating Gloria Stuart

Deborah Thompson

It was fitting that Gloria was born on Independence Day. She was a firecracker: sharp, witty, energetic.

Topics: Painting, Family, Film, Poetry

Adrienne Rich, 1929 - 2012

Rich’s commitment to social justice that characterized her sustained engagement in the world emerged from the provocation and the aspiration that was her Jewishness.

Dyanna Loeb

Poetry from Dyanna Loeb, aka Dyna*Mic

Leah Berkenwald

Dyanna Loeb aka Dyna*Mic is an MC, poet and arts educator who started performing with Youth Speaks in 2001.

Topics: Poetry
Israeli Flag

Poetry, storytelling, and multiple truths on Israel's Independence Day

Judith Rosenbaum

As a historian, I spend a lot of time thinking about stories -- what stories we tell about ourselves and the world, what stories aren't told, how our narratives change depending on context, mood, timing.

Catching up with Vanessa Hidary, the Hebrew Mamita

Melissa Scholten-Gutierrez

Baruch Atah Adonai
Viva Puerto Rico Ha'olam
Hahmotzee , Fight The Power
Me'en Haaretz
AMEN.

Lesléa Newman

The "fine madness" of discovering Lesléa Newman

Chanel Dubofsky

During an otherwise unidentifiable undergraduate semester, I took a class called The Psychology of the Lesbian Experience.

Topics: Poetry

The Burlesque Poetess: A Jewess with "Artitude"

Leah Berkenwald

Jojo Lazar is a Boston-based multimedia visual and performance artist with a dizzying portfolio of projects. She puts her MFA in Poetry and love of vaudeville to work performing as “The Burlesque Poetess.” She plays the ukulele in the steam-crunk band, “Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys,” and with Meff in “The Tiny Instrument Revue” and in “WHY ARE THOSE GIRLS SO LOUD it’s ‘cos we’re jewish,” with fellow Jewish writer/performer Amy Macabre.

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"What is Needed After Food," a poem by Alicia Ostriker

Gail Reimer

Twice a finalist for the National Book Award, Alicia Ostriker has published fourteen poetry collections, including The Book of Seventy, which received the 2009 National Jewish Book Award for Poetry. To further our celebration of National Poetry Month, Ostriker has allowed us to reprint a poem from her newest collection, The Book of Life: Selected Jewish Poems 1979-2011.

Topics: Poetry
Marge Piercy

How do I love Marge Piercy?

Lesléa Newman

How do I love Marge Piercy? Let me count the ways:

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Yiddish poetry: It's not just for men!

Talia bat Pessi
Most people believe that Yiddish literature and poetry was written solely by men. In reality, there were hundreds of female Yiddish writers and poets, all of whom had their own distinct biographies and writing styles. Edith Kaplan Bregman was one of these women. She was born in a Russian shtetl in 1899 to a Hasidic family, immigrating to New York when she was 13. In America, she was exposed to literature that hadn’t been available in Europe, so she became a voracious reader. Bregman went on to write poetry in her native tongue, Yiddish. Her love of language led her to meet many Yiddish literary giants, like Avrom Reyzen, a poet who became her mentor. While she wrote poems throughout her early life, her works weren’t published until 1939, when a Yiddish newspaper had a poetry contest that she entered and won. Her victory gave her the confidence to publish more of her written work. Some of the themes that recur throughout her poems are a love of Judaism and God, life in Europe, and Holocaust remembrance. In addition to writing poetry, Bregman sang and played the mandolin and piano. Bregman’s last poem was published in 1997, a few years before her death at age 99.
Topics: Poetry
Lesléa Newman

How To Make Matzo Brei

Lesléa Newman

It has to be Sunday morning,
not just any Sunday morning
the Sunday morning of Passover

Topics: Food, Passover, Poetry
Marge Piercy

Matzoh

Marge Piercy

Matzoh

Topics: Food, Passover, Poetry
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Liberation in poetry: Who Knows One

Debra Cash

It should be easy to speak praise at a time of liberation. It is not.

Topics: Passover, Poetry
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Passover Poetry: Giving Miriam her song

Gail Reimer

In recent years, Miriam has become regular presence at the Passover table.  For some she is there in the form of Miriam’s cup, a ritual addition to the Passover Seder created by Jewish feminists. For others, she is invoked through Debbie Friedman’s joyous song, an occasion, at many seders, for women to sing and dance, continuing or reexperiencing the celebration of freedom, led by Miriam, upon crossing the Red Sea.   

Topics: Passover, Bible, Poetry
Jojo Lazar, 2011

The Burlesque Poetess reads "One taught the word diaspora before diaphanous"

Leah Berkenwald

Jojo Lazar is a Boston-based multimedia visual and performance artist known as The Burlesque Poetess.

Topics: Passover, Poetry

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