In this Book

Radical Poetics and Secular Jewish Culture
summary
"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.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Title Page, Copyright Page
  2. pp. ii-vi
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-ix
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. x-x
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  1. Meet the Preface
  2. pp. xi-xvi
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  1. Introduction
  2. pp. 1-11
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  1. Radical Jewish Culture/Secular Jewish Practice
  2. pp. 12-17
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  1. Who or What Is a Jewish American Poet,with Specific Reference to David Antin,Charles Bernstein, Rachel Blau DuPlessis,and Jerome Rothenberg
  2. pp. 18-31
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  1. The House of Jews
  2. pp. 32-39
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  1. Zukofsky at 100: Zukofsky as a Body of Work
  2. pp. 40-48
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  1. Addendum
  2. pp. 49-59
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  1. Light(silence)word
  2. pp. 60-70
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  1. On Yiddish Poetry and Translation of Yiddish Poetry
  2. pp. 71-78
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  1. An “Exotic” on East Broadway: Mikhl Likht and the Paradoxes of Yiddish Modernist Poetry
  2. pp. 79-102
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  1. Revisiting Charles Reznikoff’s Urban Poetics of Diaspora and Contingency
  2. pp. 103-126
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  1. Looking at Louis Zukofsky’s Poetics through Spinozist Glasses
  2. pp. 127-150
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  1. “Can a Jew be Wild”: The Radical Jewish Grammar of Gertrude Stein’s Voices Poems
  2. pp. 151-169
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  1. Remains of the Diaspora: A Personal Meditation
  2. pp. 170-183
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  1. Secular and Sacred
  2. pp. 184-198
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  1. Midrashic Sensibilities: Secular Judaism and Radical Poetics (A personal essay in several chapters)
  2. pp. 199-224
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  1. Secular Jewish Culture and Its Radical Poetic Discontents
  2. pp. 225-244
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  1. Radical Relation: Jewish Identity and the Power of Contradictions in the Poetics of Muriel Rukeyser and George Oppen
  2. pp. 245-273
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  1. “Yes and No, Not Either/Or”: Aesthetics, Identity, and Marjorie Perloff ’s Vienna Paradox
  2. pp. 274-286
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  1. “Sound Scraps, Vision Scraps”: Paul Celan’s Poetic Practice
  2. pp. 287-309
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  1. Language in the Dark: The Legacy of Walter Benjamin in the Opera Shadowtime
  2. pp. 310-322
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  1. Danger, Skepticism, and Democratic Longing: Five Contemporary Secular Jewish American Poets
  2. pp. 323-342
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  1. Relentlessly Going On and On: How Jews Remade Modern Poetry without Even Trying
  2. pp. 343-353
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  1. Azoy Toot a Yid: Secular Poetics and “The Jewish Way”
  2. pp. 354-377
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  1. A Jew in New York
  2. pp. 378-378
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  1. Imp/penetrable Archive: Adeena Karasick’s Wall of Sound
  2. pp. 379-396
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  1. In the Shadow of Desire: Charles Bernstein’s Shadowtime and Its Kabbalistic Trajectories
  2. pp. 397-408
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  1. Hijacking Language: Kabbalistic Trajectories
  2. pp. 409-417
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  1. Letter to the Romans
  2. pp. 418-438
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  1. White
  2. pp. 439-439
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  1. Contributors
  2. pp. 441-445
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 447-456
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