Judith Sarah Schmidt's deep Torah poetry for this week's portion, Toldot
Duality within: on Toldot

The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary American Jewish Poetry (including mine!)

BloomsburyanthI could not be more delighted to be able to share the news that I have two poems in The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish American Poetry, edited by Deborah Ager and M.E. Silverman. Here's a glimpse of how the book describes itself: "With works by over 100 poets, The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish American Poetry celebrates contemporary writers, born after World War II, who write about Jewish themes. // This anthology brings together poets whose writings offer fascinating insight into Jewish cultural and religious identity[.]" I am tremendously honored to be one of them!

Within these pages, we invite you to consider, explore, and reflect upon what shapes the heart of Jewish American poems that both celebrate Jewish traditions and honor the human spirit. In this book, we wanted to share distinctly Jewish American voices, which include second-generation Jews, converts, those on the path to conversion, secular Jews, a rabbi, those who've made Aliyah, and others. We included poems that both do and do not focus on Jewish themes, and we did that to convey the breadth and depth of Jewish personhood. With this book, we do not attempt to answer what it means to be Jewish in a time when so many follow a secular life. We seek to answer how the long history of Judaism expresses itself in the daily lives of the artists represented within these pages, and the poems do that on their own.

So write the editors in their "Invitation to the reader."

My work is included in these pages alongside work by many writers whom I have long admired -- Ellen Bass; Richard Chess, the former poetry editor at Zeek magazine; Lucille Lang Day; Julie R. Enszer; Amy Gerstler; Jane Hirschfield; Joy Ladin, whose (prose) work I've reviewed here before; my friend and teacher David Lehman (under whose tutelage I spent that grad school semester studying Jewish American literature of a variety of stripes, culminating in an attempt to define for myself what makes Jewish literature Jewish); Yehoshua November, whose work I've reviewed for Zeek; my teacher Jason Shinder, may his memory be a blessing; Matthew Zapruder; Rachel Zucker; and many more.

It's a gorgeous, broad, deep collection and I'm really happy that two of my poems -- "Eating the Apple" (which appears in Waiting to Unfold, Phoenicia 2013) and "Command (Tzav)" (which appears in 70 faces: Torah poems, Phoenicia 2011) -- are included. I'm further honored to be one of the voices in the "Further Reflections: Commentary on Jewish American Poetry" section at the end of the volume.

Deep thanks to the editors for including me and to the press for putting out such a beautiful volume. I know I'll be reading and rereading it for a long time to come.

Buy the anthology from the press ($29.95) | or from Amazon ($28.45) | or from Powell's ($36.75)