I had the privilege of attending the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) in Boston last weekend. After a lovely breakfast with Northampton Poet Laureate and award-winning children’s book author, Rich Michelson, I was excited to attend my first panel, “A Monster for Your Bridegroom: Jewish Mysticism in Contemporary Poetry.”
Moderated by Sheri Allen, the panelists included Tony Barnstone, Jacqueline Osherow, Joy Ladin, and Yehoshua November. (I should mention Alicia Ostriker, Maria Mazziotti Gillan, Laura Boss, Elana Bell, Sharon Dolin, among others, were in the audience.)
Do yourself a favor and check out the work of these wonderful poets:
Tony Barnstone is the Chair of English at Whittier College in California and also teaches in the Stonecoast MFA program (University of Southern Maine). His books of poetry include The Golem of Los Angeles and The Tongues of War. I attended a session last year where Tony was a panelist — the topic was historical sources, contemporary poetry. He blew me away with his sonnets based on interviews with World War II veterans and he inspired me to take a blasé middle-grade nonfiction manuscript and rewrite it in verse. (Note: Tony is not Jewish.)
Jacqueline Osherow, a distinguished professor of English and director of the creative writing program at the University of Utah, is the author of six books of poetry, including her most recent, Whitethorn. She was won several awards and fellowships. I appreciate her Yiddish sensibility.
Joy Ladin is Yeshiva University’s Gottesman Professor of English and is the author of six poetry books, including Coming to Life, named of of 2010’s most important Jewish poetry books. Her poetry approaches the reader’s soul.
Yehoshua November, who teaches writing at Rutgers University and Touro College, is the author of God’s Optimism, his debut poetry collection that won a Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award. His work is visceral and provocative.