Join us for an evening exploring radical poetics and Judaism, with
poets Norman Fischer and Charles Bernstein. In honor of the new
collection of essays by 20th century Jewish poets, Radical Poetics and
Secular Jewish Culture, we'll discuss how being Jewish, secular or not,
is reflected in the aesthetics and practices of poetry and discuss how
the practice of avant-garde poetry informs Jewish identity and vice
NORMAN FISCHER is a Zen priest and teacher of Jewish meditation. He is a former abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center, and the founder and teacher for the Everyday Zen Foundation. A graduate of the University of Iowa Writers Workshop, where he studied with Ted Berrigan and Anselm Hollo, he has been active in the poetry universe since the late 1970s. His works tend to involve various experiments with language that evoke the Zen way of being in the world. The latest of his many collections is Questions/Places/Voices/Seasons from Singing Horse Press (2009).
CHARLES BERNSTEIN is author of All the Whiskey in Heaven: Selected Poems (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2010), Blind Witness: Three American Operas (Factory School, 2008); and Girly Man (University of Chicago Press, 2006), and My Way: Speeches and Poems (Chicago, 1999). He is Donald T. Regan Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania. More info at http://epc.buffalo.edu/
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Radical Poetics and Secular Jewish Culture
edited by Daniel Morris and Stephen Paul Miller
"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.
When & Where
Jewish Meditation Center of Brooklyn
The Jewish Meditation Center of Brooklyn is a grassroots community transforming the world through the cultivation of awareness, compassion and Jewish wisdom. We're building a replicable model of a neighborhood-based and community-led JMC. More hip than hippie, more grassroots than guru, join us in cultivating tikkun olam from the inside out.