Best American Poetry Blog

contemporary-jewish-american-poetry-sml This week, I am blogging over at the Best American Poetry blog to talk about The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish American Poetry, which I edited with Matthew Silverman.

I wrote that I am “blogging this week,” but I wrote the first post while at the Atlantic Center for the Arts (ACA) in New Smyrna Beach, FL. Thank you, ACA! You helped.

I won’t be selling the book for $19.95, and I won’t make you watch an infomerical. What follows is the first part of the essay:

The question Matthew Silverman and I grappled with when putting together The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish American Poetry was about what constituted a Jewish poem. The poets we solicited for poems wondered, too. A good number of poets wrote us to say they did not write on “Jewish themes.” We reassured them that this was fine.

In the essay “The Question of American Jewish Poetry,” John Hollander asks the same question:

The first hard question is: “Well, do these Jewish American poets write Jewish American poetry?” But that question is itself misleading. And matters are not made clearer by rephrasing it in the apparently sophisticated literary language . . . “Which poems reflect Jewish experience?” Such terms . . . mean little to poets, and perhaps even less to serious and inquiring literary critics. After all, can anything a Jew experiences—even apostasy—not be “Jewish experience”?

Matthew and I were at times no more certain than John Hollander….Read more at the Best American Poetry blog.