SHOFAR Winter 2005 Vol. 23, No. 2 The Holy Letters, by Nancy Shiffrin. greatunpublished.com, 2000, Title No. 65. 86 pp. $11.99 (p); $7.99 (e-book). My Jewish Name, by Nancy Shiffrin. greatunpublished.com 2002, Title No. 251. 127 pp. $11.99 (p); $7.99 (e-book). Nancy Shiffrin's poetry, collected in The Holy Letters, is reminiscent of such feminist poets as Margaret Atwood, Audre Lorde, and, especially--because of the highlighted Jewish themes--Adrienne Rich. The Holy Letters is a book to set alongside these other writers' and to cherish for richness of emotions and vividness of metaphor. There is no shrinking or prudery here; the author confronts the body frankly, patriarchal repression with rightful anger. The contemporary world, of environmental depradation, poverty, inner-city suffering, is harsh and cruel, and the poet responds with great sadness and a search for hope, ending her book with a section entitled "For Life." Other sections deal with geography and memory, pregnancy and abortion, unhappy or traumatized children, aging, love, death, and multiple longings: for art, for skill, for erotic adventure. Several poems indicate Jewish themes explicitly through their titles-- "Yom Kippur, Shabbat," "Kosher," "Seder," "My Holocaust," "Yahrzeit," and "Rosh Chodesh"--and many others grapple with Jewish culture and history.
Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies – Purdue University Press
Published: Feb 24, 2005