When I received my copy of “Milk and Honey: A Celebration of Jewish Lesbian Poetry” (A Midsummer Night’s Press, 2011), edited by poet Julie R. Enszer, I was surprised at how small the book was. Measuring only about six by four inches, it seems designed to fit easily into a purse, or perhaps not to draw too much attention to itself. However, the volume’s diminutive physical size does not betray its emotional power. This collection packs a punch, and it couldn’t have been published at a more timely moment. With same-sex marriage now legal in New York, this volume is truly a celebration, as its subtitle suggests. And I can’t help but note that it would make a great wedding present or wedding favor for guests.
Some time has passed since the literary world has seen a Jewish lesbian poetry anthology. The previous two — “Nice Jewish Girls” (Persephone Press, 1982) and “The Tribe of Dina” (Beacon Press, 1989) — included both poetry and essays, and covered more generational ground than “Milk and Honey,” which features only poetry, and a majority of the poets are on the younger side. This is not to say that “Milk and Honey” lacks age diversity, but that it set out specifically to publish contemporary poets (no Adrienne Rich or Gertrude Stein) who represent a particular range of experience unique to Jewish lesbians of this generation.