Friday, September 02, 2005

The Blog of Questions

1. Is my first "intersection" in yesterday's post--the "broadest and weakest"--too broad and too weak to be useful?

2. If Linda Pastan and Edmond Jabes are both Jewish poets, in the same sense that Ron Silliman and Richard Howard are both American poets, what good is the term "Jewish poet"? Is it only useful when you want to round up poets for an anthology, or some (ahem) grimmer fate?

3. Does the category of "Radical Jewish poetry" have potential has anything other than a brand identity, rather like John Zorn's "radical Jewish culture" music series, on which I suspect it has been patterned? (Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, a brand name.)

4. Is "Radical Jewish Poetry," or even "Jewish poetry" writ large, really just a project I take up when I want to read poetry and feel Jewish doing it? Do the motives for the term, that is to say, lie in the the poets and poems themselves, or mostly in me, the reader?

5. When someone asks about the relationship between secular Jewish culture and radical poetics, shouldn't we start (in the best Jewish fashion) by asking some questions in response? Questions like "Why do you ask?" Or, better, "Who wants to know?"

6. (From Adam Schonbrun) Is Yonah Wollach masturbating with the straps of the Tefillin also considered "radical Jewish," or only "secular Israeli"? (If you don't know that poem, let me know and I'll post it next week.)

I'm taking a day to mull these over, enjoy my kids, and ease my soul with Norman's An Assembly. Here's one of my old favorites to enjoy in the meantime, from the sly little sequence Hero / Lil (1973) by David Meltzer--a poet who should have come up in these contexts a while ago.
Facing Lily Rashi sees
her wings unfold
block light from his room.

Pink breasts peek through
gold-white swan fans
fluttering like Sally Rand.

Rashi looks up from Torah.
Not good enough for Adam,
not good enough for me.
Out, Lilith. Out.
More soon on many things! --E

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Allow me to respond to your second question with a question (how Jewish of me, I know) -- is "Jewish" (in "Jewish poet") meant to be descriptive or prescriptive? It seems to me that if it's descriptive, it's pleasant but ultimately not all that useful as a category (I mean, it's nice to know that other poets share my religious affiliation, but as you suggest, what commonality does it really imply?) but if it's prescriptive there's something slightly sinister about it ("You are a Jewish poet; you must write about Jewish things, defined as follows...!")

And re: item six -- I don't know the poem you reference, and now I am absurdly curious. Post it, please? (Masturbating with tefillin -- this I've got to read.)