At some point, a few years ago--around the time I went on my official ages 35-40 hiatus, to spend time with my wife and kids--I dropped my print subscription to The Forward. I figured I'd read it on-line, like everything else.
Knowing how curds lead on to whey, whatever the hell that means, I should have stuck with print. I don't keep up on line, and have missed a lot of very good poetry and poetry reviewing as a result. Up early this morning, I searched the word "poet" in their archives, and came up with some good stuff.
First, this review of Harvey Shapiro's The Sights Along the Harbor: New and Collected Poems, by David Curzon. Shapiro has become one of my favorite poets, not least thanks to the excellent material on him in Norman's Not One Of Them In Place: Modern Poetry and Jewish American Identity, a book that just keeps getting better the more I reread it. When my copy of this arrives, I'll post more on it--my sense is that it will be an essential book, and Shapiro an increasingly important poet to me, as I grow into him.
David Kaufman got the chance to review the new Collected Reznikoff: a book that will, I hope, put this poet onto more maps and syllabi and bookshelves in the next few years. (Rez seems to show up in more and more new anthologies of Modern American Poetry, too, a development driven no doubt by the desire to be more ethnically diverse in earlier periods--but hey, if it's good for the Jews, who am I to object?)
Jay Michaelson, the editor of Zeek: a Jewish Journal of Thought and Culture, recently reviewed a collection by Ilya Kaminsky, Dancing in Odessa. Evidently it won a number of prizes; somehow I missed it, but this Russian-born American poet--he came here in his teens--sounds like he has a lovely international reach in his work, from Mandelstam to Montale, and clearly I need to hunt the book up and give it a look.
A lucky fellow by the name of Isaac Meyers gets to review some new books by new poets who write about religion and newly-Orthodox (and post-Orthodox) life, Yermiyahu Ahron Taub (The Insatiable Psalm) and Eve Grubin (Morning Prayer). Meyers frames the review in terms of biographies: Taub grew up Orthodox, then left that world, coming out as gay; Grubin is a baalat teshuvah, an identity that Meyers links quite convincingly to the linguistic texture of her poems: "Orthodoxy is not just a faith but also a social sphere with its own language. All baalei teshuvah, therefore, are as unsettled linguistically as they are spiritually. We can hear and feel the poet searching urgently for a language that better fits her changing life..." I'm going to get a copy of this one, too--and keep an eye out for other pieces by Meyers, who seems to take an interest in poetry and the Orthodox world, as in this piece from a few months ago.
So, how do I get some of these review copies coming my way, eh? Don't tell me I have to get my Jewish poetry retail!