Wednesday, July 13, 2005

10 to Know

So far, only Rachel has taken me up on my challenge to list 10 poems--did I say 10 Jewish poems? I meant 10 Jewish poems--you wish every American Jew would know. She posted her list as a comment, but I'm bringing it up here to give it more attention:

"Wow -- ten poems I wish every Jew in America would read, eh? Okay, I'll give that a shot, with the caveat that I'm away from my study and am doing this off the top of my head, and I might generate a different list tomorrow:

- Alicia Ostriker's "A Meditation in Seven Days"
- Irena Klepficz's "Der mames shabosim/My Mother’s Sabbath Days"
- Rodger Kamenetz's "History of the Invisible"
- Ira Sadoff's "Hasids on the Subway"
- Merle Feld's "We All Stood Together"
- Marge Piercy's "The Art of Blessing the Day"
- Lynn Gottlieb's "Spring Cleaning Ritual on the Eve of the Full Moon Nissan"
- Martín Espada's "Imagine the Angels of Bread"

Well, there's eight. I feel certain there should be some John Hollander on the list, but can't pick one without having a book in front of me... :-)"
Of these, I only know three, so clearly I have my work cut out for me! (I also never knew Martin Espada was Jewish, so the project gets more and more rewarding.)

C'mon, folks--who else should we add, and why?

2 comments:

Nan Cohen said...

I don't know a lot of these, but I look forward to reading them. I don't think Martín Espada is Jewish, but that beautiful and fierce poem (available on his own website) certainly carries images that have been part of Jewish experience and is very much about social justice.

A poem that I think might have a similar claim to a place on the list is Adrienne Rich's "The Burning of Paper Instead of Children." Though the speaker doesn't share her neighbor's "violent emotion" over the burning of a book, the poem engages with questions of what should draw our feeling, our commitment, our action. Other Rich poems as well.

-Allen Ginsberg's "Kaddish"

-Jacqueline Osherow--can't pick without a book in front of me either, and they're in a box somewhere. Here's a recent poem on Slate, "God's Acrostic": http://slate.msn.com/id/113060/

-Everyone ought to know Paul Celan's "Todesfugue"

-In Eavan Boland's translation of nine women poets writing in German, After Every War, there are poems we all ought to know--for example, Else Lasker-Schüler's "Mein blaues Klavier"/"My Blue Piano" and Elizabeth Langgässer's "Frühling 1946"/"Spring 1946."

Rachel said...

Responding belatedly (and thanks for showcasing my comment on the site's main page) -- as Nan said, Espada isn't Jewish, but I still think his "Imagine the Angels of Bread" is a poem Jews should read. To me, it has a very prophetic sensibility -- not prophecy in the sense of foretelling the future, but prophecy in the Tanakh sense, the call to righteous action and justice.

Let me know if you want help figuring out which book(s) to find those poems in; I'm pretty sure I've got them all, so I ought to be able to dig the sources up...