Elinor Nauen is Manhattan’s unofficial poet laureate of cars and baseball. Her newest book, “So Late Into the Night,” is a rollicking road trip on the model of Byron’s “Don Juan,” with over 600 stanzas of ottava rima about Derek Jeter (her non-Platonic obsession), road trips, her husband, morning minyan and herself. Nauen chatted with The Arty Semite about moving to New York from South Dakota, writing about shul, and whether Derek Jeter will ever read her poems.
“I’m not going to be on Oprah,” said Zackary Sholem Berger matter-of-factly about his new book, “Zog khotsh l’havdil / Not in the Same Breath.” He’s realistic about his completely negligible chances, not because Oprah’s show and book club have just come to an end, but because he knows his work of original Yiddish poetry is not destined for a wide audience.
Each Thursday, The Arty Semite features excerpts and reviews of the best contemporary Jewish poetry. This week, Zackary Sholem Berger reviews “70 Faces” by Rachel Barenblat.
The editors at ZEEK recently came out with a poetry manifesto. Since the journal devotes significant space to poetry, and there are precious few publications which consider Jewish poetry in a serious way, I looked forward to their treatment of the subject. I glanced at the last paragraph and saw that the authors wanted to “blast open the possibility of what Jewish poetry can be” — certainly an ambitious goal. I hoped that the manifesto would tell us how.