Each Thursday, The Arty Semite features excerpts and reviews of the best contemporary Jewish poetry. This week, Rodger Kamenetz introduces “Hearing News From the Temple Mount in Salt Lake City” by Jacqueline Osherow. This piece originally appeared on June 1, 2001, as part of the Forward’s Psalm 151 series. It is being published here online for the first time.
Jacqueline Osherow, an English professor at the University of Utah, is part of the strange Diaspora of American Jewish poets in recent times, a by-product of the reality that many poets earn their bread through college teaching. On the other hand, the scattering produces fresh glints of light — as here the poet, perhaps hearing the news of Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount and the events that followed, reflects and refracts in Mormon country, where Jews are “Gentiles.” Ms. Osherow’s mordant humor and casual diction gives her work a relaxed feel but underlying the humor is a shrewd drash on Jacob’s character — and on our own.
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