Friday, November 30, 2012

'Tis the Season...

--Eric Selinger

Well, technically it's not Purim yet, but I'm busy writing songs for the festivities, and yesterday's vote at the UN calls for one, surely.  Hit it, Buddy!

I’m gonna tell you how it’s gonna be:
You’re gonna dig my dignity.
Everything will be really great!
I’m a Non-Member Observer state.

Chances slimmer than a cigarette.
Don’t really have any borders yet.
Not much room to negotiate.
But soon I’ll issue a license plate
That says “Non-Member Observer State.”

Settlers rooted deep as palms.
Gaza’s popping with Qassams.
Tonight we’ll party like it’s ’48,
In a Non-Member Observer State,
In a Non-Member Observer State.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Jews in Solitude

Woke up this morning with a line from Adrienne Rich in my head:  "What is a Jew in solitude?"

That's the opening line of her wonderful poem "Yom Kippur, 1984."  Haven't read it in years, but it haunts me.  To borrow a phrase from Molly Peacock, it's one of my talisman poems, although I hadn't really realized that until now.

I'm feeling "in solitude" now for any number of reasons, but they're personal, which means I'll write about them (if I do) over at In the Rain. Poetically speaking, what interests me here is the coincidence that followed an hour or two after breakfast.

Still thinking of Rich, I opened a package from the poet Benjamin Hollander:  a padded envelope containing two of his books, Vigilance and Rituals of Truce and the Other Israeli.  (I've never read him, but he contacted me out of the blue, and seems like an interesting guy.)  Opened the latter, and what did I read?  This, from Edmund Jabes:
I only know that, due to circumstance, solitude has become the profound destiny of the Jew.  The State of Israel not only doesn't break that solitude, it often aggravates it.   
            --From the Desert to the Book (tr. Pierre Joris)
Don't know much about "destiny," don't know much theology, don't know much about a holy book, don't know much about the Hebrew I took, but that last sentence?

It's the emess.  True dat, as they say.

Back to my Fortress of Solitude, folks.  More on the books as I read 'em.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Big Jewish Reboot

Like most blogs, the Big Jewish Blog had a life-cycle.  It started strong, it petered out, it got some new blood from new contributors, it petered out again, and for the last year or so, it's been more or less sincerely dead, as the Munchkins say.

This year, I'm giving it either a Big Jewish Reboot, or just a Big Jewish Boot.  We'll see.

I've written the "various hands" that I brought on board a few years back, and asked who wanted to continue contributing on a more or less regular basis, and I quietly culled the names of folks who haven't contributed in several years.  I'll continue to prune and add voices, and see what mix seems to work here, to get the job done, whatever that "job" may be.

(If I took you out, and you want back in, let me know.)

I'll be going through the links to your right and testing them to see what's still live and what's gone, daddy, gone.  Might even add some more, if the mood hits.

(If the mood hits, bear it.)

The other thing I've done, after much hemming and hawing--I do that a lot; it gets noisy 'round here--is start up yet another blog for my various religious misadventures:  the Alte Rockers Purim spiels, the angsty posts about synagogue membership, etc., the sermons and musings and so forth.

That blog is called "In the Rain," after a Stanley Moss poem I quite like.  If you want to see what I'm up to on that front, take a look.

My hope is that by separating the more personal Jewish (and non-Jewish) me into its own separate blog I'll be able to take a more curious, agile attitude towards the poems, poets, and poetics issues that will make up the Big Jewish Blog.  ("Poesis, not religion," as Rothenberg says in Exiled in the Word.)

If that doesn't happen, then it doesn't happen--now that I have my Promotion to Full (trumpet fanfare, please), what goes on here in the blogosphere is pretty well meaningless, professionally speaking, so I won't worry one way or the other.

The one question I have--and it's an open one, for now--is whether to turn off the comments here entirely, rather than leaving them on and moderating.  The comments you get on a Big Jewish Blog can be awfully upsetting, even when I delete or reject them:  political hate, religious venom, trolling of various kinds.

I just don't want that in my head, and I'm not sure that the potential for conversation here is worth the cost.

For now, I think I'd rather have the comments and conversations over at Facebook and Twitter and so forth than here.  If you don't like that idea, find me and let me know.  We'll see what we can do.

Wish me luck, and welcome back A Big Jewish Blog.