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The New Jew Canon: The Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai

The New Jew Canon is a long-term project that seeks to canonize essential Jewish (and some Non-Jewish) reads as recommended by extraordinary rabbis, experts, and cultural leaders. Suggestions are welcome via comments or email. Title: The Selected Poetry Of Yehuda … Read More

By / August 18, 2008

The New Jew Canon is a long-term project that seeks to canonize essential Jewish (and some Non-Jewish) reads as recommended by extraordinary rabbis, experts, and cultural leaders. Suggestions are welcome via comments or email.

Author:

Yehuda Amichai

Description:

Each Yom Kippur my husband and I follow the same routine. Between services, we stroll through the park with a copy of The Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai and take turns reading aloud to each other. Why has this book, a selection of the author's poetry between 1955 and 1985, become so integral to our day of contemplation? For me there are few more powerful testaments to loss, grief, renewal and the fleeting passage of time than this essential collection by the Israeli poet who C.K. Williams called the "shrewdest and most solid of poetic intelligences." Amichai poems are often fabulist renderings of love, mourning and war through the prism of Jewish history and Biblical narrative. As a writer, I turn to them to understand exuberant simile and metaphor ("You had a laughter of grapes/many loud green laughs" ("Six Poems for Tamar")) and as a human being, I seek comfort from them, a salve for life's challenges. My favorite poems encapsulate Jewish traumas of the twentieth century in intimate family moments—a wife brushing her hair, say, or a Yom Kippur observed without the narrator's parents. Redemption may be rare but even during the most difficult times, optimism, however fleeting, manages to survive: "And hopes come to me like bold seafarers,/like the discoverers of continents coming to an island,/ and stay for a day or two/and rest…/And then they set sail." (The U.N. Headquarters in the High Commissioner's House in Jerusalem").

Recommended By:

Irina Reyn is the author of the novel What Happened to Anna K. Her work has appeared in publications such as Tin House, Nextbook, The Forward, One Story, Town & Country Travel, The Moscow Times, Los Angeles Times, and many others.

The New Jew Canon is a long-term project that seeks to canonize essential Jewish (and some Non-Jewish) reads as recommended by extraordinary rabbis, experts, and cultural leaders. Suggestions are welcome via comments or tips. For more New Jew Canon recommendations, visit Jewcy's New Jew Canon Listmania.

Jewcy's New Jew Canon

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