The Arty Semite

Best Jewish Poetry of 2013

By Jake Marmer

  • Print
  • Share Share

It has become the Forward’s tradition to highlight five memorable poetry releases of the year (see the 2010, 2011 and 2012 selections). And while some names may look familiar to our readers, others are appearing here for the first time. Please consider this list a conversation starter, and let us know who you would like to see added to the mix.

Also, please note that the works below are listed in alphabetical order — there’s no ranking here.

Courtesy Charles Bernstein

Recalculating
By Charles Bernstein
University of Chicago Press, 208 pages, $25.00

For the past few decades, Charles Bernstein has been a seminal figure in the world of avant-garde poetry; in the past decade, his engagement with Jewish poetics has come to define, for many fellow artists, a new, profound, and immediately relevant way of engaging with one’s Jewishness. “I am a Jewish man trapped / in the body of a Jewish man,” writes the poet, and it is up to the reader to enjoy all of this “entrapment’s” trappings, trimmings and bells. The first collection of Bernstein’s new work in eight years, “Recalculating” spans numerous registers of experimentation. See full review of “Recalculating” here.

A Superindent’s Eyes
By Steve Dalachinsky
Autonomedia, 180 pages, $15.00

Though the ambition to write “street poetry” or “blue color poetry” has been running through American poetic discourse at least since the 1950s, examples of the genre’s true actualization have been few and far in between. This is why this reissue of Steve Dalachinsky’s early collection “Superintendent’s Eyes” is so memorable. A important document of a raw reflection on society, these poems are a counter-point of garbage bin rattling with soul stirrings, searing home-cooked philosophy with irresistible noir humor. For more information about Dalachinsky, read two of his poems here and a review of his recent recording here.

Seven American Deaths and Disasters
By Kenneth Goldsmith
Powerhouse Books, 176 pages, $19.95

This year was a big one for Kenneth Goldsmith, a multi-disciplinary artist and thinker who once described himself as “a poet… because no one else would take me.” Crowned as the first poet laureate of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, in recent months Goldsmith has also appeared on the Colbert report. “Seven American Deaths and Disasters” is an example of found art, discovered where no one may be looking for it. Like composer John Cage, Goldsmith chooses to create (or as he puts it, “uncreate”) art that is not a product but a state of attention. Transcribing media coverage of some of America’s landmark tragedies, Goldsmith prods us to rethink not only the events themselves, but also art and poetry as such.

Eye Of Witness: A Jerome Rothenberg Reader
By Jerome Rothenberg
Black Widow Press, 650 pages, $29.95

Jerome Rothenberg, 85-year-old maestro who spanned schools of poetic thought, created new poetic forms and reinvented the notion of a poetic anthology, was also the first American translator of Paul Celan. This long-overdue 600-page reader only scratches the surface of the impressive body of work that is Rothenberg’s ever-growing legacy. An unforgettable performer, lecturer, thinker, traveler and scholar, Rothenberg represents an actualization of that living mythic figure of a poet-as-mystic, shaman, a channel for alternative and revelatory voices. To learn more about Rothenberg’s work, see the Forward’s review of one of Rothenberg’s recent collections, as well as a sampling of Rothenberg’s poems.

Havoc: New & Selected Poems
By Linda Zisquit
Sheep Meadow Press, 181 pages, $21.95

Linda Zisquit is an exquisite sort of exilic poet: born in Buffalo, New York, she emigrated to Israel decades ago, yet continues writing in English even as Biblical references and Israeli-isms begin to enter her work and her language. A self-avowed student of American poet Robert Creeley, she may have ventured far from Creeley’s auspices; yet the musical verse, bursting with confessions, concealments, self-contradictions and rants, is a curious and poignant instance of American poetry’s taking root in the Middle East. It is a reflection of the poet’s massive personal transmigrations, reflected on history’s scales.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Poetry, Best of 2013

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • "I feel great sorrow about the fact that you decided to return the honor and recognition that you so greatly deserve." Rivka Ben-Pazi, who got Dutchman Henk Zanoli recognized as a "Righteous Gentile," has written him an open letter.
  • Is there a right way to criticize Israel?
  • From The Daily Show to Lizzy Caplan, here's your Who's Jew guide to the 2014 #Emmys. Who are you rooting for?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.