Passover Performance Poetry
Pesach literally means “skipping” — as in skipping the Jewish homes. But also, as in skipping a beat, breathless, syncopated, throat parched from so much yelling. That’s right, yelling. Passover is all about that. Family members who have not seen each other in much too long, with their serious opinions on serious matters. The rabbis of the hagaddah are also yelling at each other, through their abstract arguments. Sometimes it makes you want to skip … out on the whole thing altogether. Or will you skip none of it, and pedantically inhale the whole chaotic chorus along with the matzo balls? Depends which of the four sons you are, I guess. Then again, like four-faced creatures of Ezekiel’s vision we too are four-faced — each one of us is all four sons (and daughters!) in one body. With all the inner conflicts, and yes, yelling that goes along with the territory. In these two poems, “Umtza” and “R-Word,” I tried to capture the great cacophonous chorus of the tradition.
Jake Marmer is a poet and perfomer, who contributes regularly to the Forward.