Radical Poetics and Secular Jewish Culture

Radical Poetics and Secular Jewish Culture

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"What have I in common with Jews? I hardly have anything in common with myself!"
--Franz Kafka

Kafka's quip--paradoxical, self-questioning, ironic--highlights vividly some of the key issues of identity and self-representation for Jewish writers in the 20th century. No group of writers better represents the problems of Jewish identity than Jewish poets writing in the American modernist tradition--specifically secular Jews: those disdainful or suspicious of organized religion, yet forever shaped by those traditions.

This collection of essays is the first to address this often obscured dimension of modern and contemporary poetry: the secular Jewish dimension. Editors Daniel Morris and Stephen Paul Miller asked their contributors to address what constitutes radical poetry written by Jews defined as "secular," and whether or not there is a Jewish component or dimension to radical and modernist poetic practice in general. These poets and critics address these questions by exploring the legacy of those poets who preceded and influenced them--Stein, Zukofsky, Reznikoff, Oppen, and Ginsberg, among others.

While there is no easy answer for these writers about what it means to be a Jew, in their responses there is a rich sense of how being Jewish reflects on their aesthetics and practices as poets, and how the tradition of the avant-garde informs their identities as Jews. Fragmented identities, irony, skepticism, a sense of self as "other" or "outsider," distrust of the literal, and belief in a tradition that questions rather than answers--these are some of the qualities these poets see as common to themselves, the poetry they make, and the tradition they work within.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780817385163
Publisher: University of Alabama Press
Publication date: 02/18/2011
Series: Modern & Contemporary Poetics
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 472
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Stephen Paul Miller is a professor at St. John's University. He is the author of five books of poems: The Bee Flies in May, Fort Dad, Being with a Bullet, Skinny Eighth Avenue and Art is Boring for the Same Reason We Stayed in Vietnam. He is also the author of The Seventies Now: Culture as Surveillance, and coeditor of Scene of My Selves: New Work on the New York School Poets.   Daniel Morris is the author of The Poetry of Louise Glück: A Thematic Introduction, Poetry’s Poet: Essays on the Poetry and Poetics of Allen Grossman, Remarkable Modernisms: Contemporary American Authors Write on Modern Art, and The Writings of William Carlos Williams: Publicity for the Self. He is also editor of Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies.     Contributors: Paul Auster / Merle L. Bachman / Charles Bernstein /  Charlie Bertsch / Maria Damon/ Rachel Blau DuPlessis / Amy Feinstein / Thomas Fink / Norman Finkelstein / Norman Fischer / Benjamin Friedlander / Michael Heller / Kathryn Hellerstein / Bob Holman / Adeena Karasick / Hank Lazer / Stephen Paul Miller / Daniel Morris / Ranen Omer–Sherman / Alicia Ostriker / Bob Perelman / Marjorie Perloff / Jerome Rothenberg / Meg Schoerke / Joshua Schuster / Eric Murphy Selinger  

Table of Contents

Contents Acknowledgments Meet the Preface / Stephen Paul Miller Introduction / Daniel Morris Radical Jewish Culture / Secular Jewish Practice / Charles Bernstein Who or What Is a Jewish American Poet, with Specific Reference to David Antin, Charles Bernstein, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, and Jerome Rothenberg / Hank Lazer The House of Jews: Experimental Modernism and Traditional Jewish Practice / Jerome Rothenberg Zukofsky at 100: Zukofsky as a Body of Work / Bob Perelman Addendum: On “The Jewish Question”: Three Perspectives / Bob Perelman Light(silence)word / Norman Fischer On Yiddish Poetry and Translation of Yiddish Poetry / Kathryn Hellerstein An “Exotic” on East Broadway: Mikhl Likht and the Paradoxes of Yiddish Modernist Poetry / Merle Bachman Revisiting Charles Reznikoff’s Urban Poetics of Diaspora and Contingency / Ranen Omer-Sherman Looking at Louis Zukofsky’s Poetics through Spinozist Glasses / Joshua Schuster “Can a jew be wild”: The Radical Jewish Grammar of Gertrude Stein’s Voices Poems / Amy Feinstein Remains of the Diaspora: A Personal Meditation / Michael Heller Secular and Sacred: Returning (to) the Repressed / Alicia Ostriker Midrashic Sensibilities: Secular Judaism and Radical Poetics (A personal essay in several chapters) / Rachel Blau DuPlessis Secular Jewish Culture and Its Radical Poetic Discontents / Norman Finkelstein Radical Relation: Jewish Identity and the Power of Contradictions in the Poetics of Muriel Rukeyser and George Oppen / Meg Schoerke “Yes and No, Not Either/Or”: Aesthetics, Identity, and Marjorie Perloff ’s Vienna Paradox / Daniel Morris “Sound Scraps, Vision Scraps”: Paul Celan’s Poetic Practice / Marjorie Perloff Language in the Dark: The Legacy of Walter Benjamin in the Opera Shadowtime / Charlie Bertsch Danger, Skepticism, and Democratic Longing: Five Contemporary Secular Jewish American Poets / Thomas Fink Relentlessly Going On and On: How Jews Remade Modern Poetry without Even Trying / Stephen Paul Miller Azoy Toot a Yid: Secular Poetics and “The Jewish Way” / Eric Murphy Selinger A Jew in New York / Bob Holman Imp/penetrable Archive: Adeena Karasick’s Wall of Sound / Maria Damon In the Shadow of Desire: Charles Bernstein’s Shadowtime and Its Kabbalistic Trajectories / Adeena Karasick Hijacking Language: Kabbalistic Trajectories / Adeena Karasick Letter to the Romans / Benjamin Friedlander White / Paul Auster Contributors

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