One’s religion, one’s Judaism, becomes so much part of the fabric of living that I find it hard to distinguish my Jewishness from my character or temperament, things that are notoriously difficult to identify and describe in one’s self.
—Daniel Mark Epstein
In this thirty-year retrospective of poetry from Shirim, Merrill Leffler has brought together poems on “sources” that Jewish poets draw on naturally: whether raised Orthodox or Conservative, Reformed or Reconstructionist, Secular or Atheistic, Jews grow up with a body of inherited traditions, values, and attitudes. While the extent of those influences differ from one poet to another, they include a basic knowledge of Biblical stories from Genesis and Exodus, rituals, whether practiced or not, liturgies, folklore, and for many a sense of the spiritual that derives from the Kabbalah and other mystical texts. Ever since Gershom Scholem’s groundbreaking research on the Kabbalah, , many of its text have become available in English translation – and poets like Jerome Rothenberg and David Meltzer have drawn on them in uniquely distinctive ways. They are two of the nearly fifty poets represented here.
Marc Steven Dworkin is the Founding Editor of SHIRIM, A Jewish Poetry Journal. For the past thirty years, he has sought poetry from around the globe that reflects the tensions, contradictions and marvels of Jewish experiences. “This search has always been guided,” he writes, “by the understanding that these poems are windows into Jewish culture and thought.” The late Stanley Chyet, a founding advisor, described SHIRIM as “poetry of Jewish reference.” No attempt was made to create a single or dominant point of view – the poems that have appeared in its pages are the thoughts and reflections of the creative mind looking at the Jewish experience. Towards these ends, SHIRIM has published poetry from Israel, England, Canada, France, Romania, Poland and many other countries — from Yehuda Amichai, Haim Gouri and Shirley Kaufman to Grace Schulman, Carl Rakosi, Stanley Moss, Irving Layton. Sources of Jewish Poetry gives a glimpse into Marc’s achievement with SHIRIM over these thirty years
Many libraries carry SHIRIM, among them, university libraries, for example, Brown, Columbia, Harvard, Princeton, Iowa, Wisconsin and Texas, public libraries in New York, Cincinnati and Los Angeles, and the libraries of Hebrew Union College, Jewish Theological Seminary and American Jewish University.
I am a Jewish writer because that is the path I was born to and because the imagery and the stories both feed me and are my body. Even when I try to cut myself off, I find that Judaism is the knife I use.
Selected back issues of Shirim are available – of special note is the Fifteenth Anniversary that focuses on the American Jewish experience through poems and personal reflections.
Back issues of SHIRIM, A Jewish Poetry Journal
70th Anniversary of Kristallnacht$7.00 Add to cart
An Homage To Yehuda Amichai$9.00 Add to cart
British Jewish Poetry$9.00 Add to cart
Israeli Love Poetry$9.00 Add to cart
Israeli Women Poetry$9.00 Add to cart
Jewish Canadian Poetry$9.00 Add to cart
Poets & American Jews: A Collection of Poetry & Personal Reflections, Fifteenth Anniversary Issue$10.00 Add to cart
Psalms of the Jewish Liturgy$7.00 Add to cart