April 8: Here comes the sun
This week's portion: red

Poetry and Pesach at JBooks

JBooks.com is perennially chock-full of good stuff. The handful of pieces which have been posted for the start of April and the Passover season are especially up my alley. Because, as the editors note, April is National Poetry Month (a month-long chag/holiday for those who hold poetry sacred) and this year April holds Pesach as well. What fertile ground for exploration!

My teacher David Lehman was invited to reflect on one of my favorite quotations from Harvey Cox (which appears in my own haggadah), about opening the door for an Elijah who is always a no-show. His piece is here (available both in finished form, and in a slow-mo version which allows the reader access into David's every keystroke as he composed the poem.)

Poet Joy Katz, in her essay Jewish Poetry?, explores questions of what makes a Jewish poem, and then uses the parable of the Four Children (wise, wicked, simple, and the one who does not know how to ask -- from the Passover haggadah) to explore four types of Jewish poetry.

And the editors there kindly invited me to share some reflections on the intersection of National Poetry Month and Pesach, which I did, in an essay called "All Who Are Hungry." Here's a taste:

Hametz comes from the verb l'chimutz, to sour or ferment. In the Hasidic imagination, hametz represents the sourness or puffery of excessive ego. Hametz is that within us which needs to be winnowed away.

The obligation to winnow is familiar to any poet. The weeks leading up to Pesach invite each of us to revise her life, cutting away the lines which don't serve the greater purpose of her poem.

You can read my essay in full here: All Who Are Hungry. Thanks for soliciting it, JBooks!

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