Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Unlikely Pairings

In writing, I always tell my students that it is contrast that makes something interesting--that a poem or story that has contradictions is one that hits home the most. What I mean is that, sometimes one thing is necessary to bring out the other. Shakespeare did it with Foils and what's good enough to work for him, is good enough to work for them. And it is these contrasts that also work well in food (think chocolate covered pretzels). Last night I had vanilla gelato with aged balsamic vinegar on top. But don't try this one at home kiddies. Apparently it is the rare and aged vinegar from Italy's belly that makes this one work. Though, you know me, I'm going to try it with ice cream and the cheap grocery stuff just to make sure the waiter at Dino is right on the money. And it is also the time of the year to be thinking of contrasts--it's human nature to contradict ourselves. The Jewish Holidays always have me questioning who it is I am and who is it I want to be. When we were younger, being right was pretty much black and white---but I think this is misconception. G-d gives us the examples in the Torah of people being righteous and unjust and the decisions they make are not simple. Next month I will be teaching a workshop at the Jewish Literary festival and so I have been reading up on the ancestors. Particularly Abraham and Sarah. They fumble--they haven't been able to conceive and so Sarah gives Hagar to her husband--perhaps too soon, as G-d will help her later on. The sages discuss her lack of faith, but how much do we leave in G-d's hands and how long before we roll up our sleeves and do the best we can? I think there is a another story here, one that we don't talk about and one that may have some more relevance to us now. Though I'm by far not a scholar in these matters, I propose we interact more with these texts, to roll up our own sleeves and engage in the study of something that matters.

And in these matters, I need some help---if anyone knows of any poems that deal with Biblical texts, please pass them on to me as I'm looking for some examples for this workshop.


HaJew said...

See Veronica Golos' A Bell Buried


Also, the August issue of Moment magazine has a poem named Music based on a biblical text that it sounds like you'd go for.

This is from the journal called Image. it's a modern interpretation of a biblical section:

Milk and Honey

By Dan Bellm*

O dear G-d: the land you have promised us
already has people living in it. Why
didn't we hear that before the exodus?

So this is the choice, to live as slaves or die
as slaves to war? Now think: some other place

You haven't got? We sent out men to spy
for us, a sorry lot to claim a race
of giants lives up there - no doubt a lie,
more likely long lost relatives. Hebron's
a town as old as Esau, walled with stones
they'll gladly throw at us, blood brothers or not.

Couldn't we come in peace, share what we've got
including You, settle down and call
it off? But No you answer: You must dispossess them all.

*Dan Bellm teaches with California Poets in the Schools, and has published
two collections of his poetry. His poems have appeared in Poetry,
Ploughshares, and other journals.

carly said...

Thanks so would I go about getting that issue of Moment?

HaJew said...

here's a site for subscribing, which you may not be jumping to do, otherwise i don't know... you can probably find it at a JCC or Y or Judaica store...

HaJew said...

I posted the poem at my site -

carly said...

thanks so much for being so helpful...happy new year :)