Skip To Content

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe

Lines and line breaks are poetry’s structural units, in much the same way that timbered planks — and the gaps that must be filled between them — create a ship’s hull. Fittingly, the rapturous poems in Robin Beth Schaer’s “Shipbreaking” are fashioned from taut lines joined by tension. Nautical imagery of wind, waves and wreck suffuse this volume. The horrors and wonders of the natural world—extinctions, disasters, migrations — and the fragility of human life are commingled. Schaer refracts the personal through the political in ways reminiscent of Yehuda Amichai, whom she cites as an influence. And traces of Jewish thought are inscribed across Schaer’s verse, as in “Fear,” which draws inspiration from the Talmud to fashion a psychological bestiary. She may be the only contemporary poet who can turn a contrite lover into a coelacanth, or depict toasting bread with so much sexual tension.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.