Jewish-American poetry and drama play an important role in contemporary American culture. These writings also reflect an enormous diversity of perspectives. Some poets, such as Allen Ginsberg, have attained fame and a large audience, while others have been recognized chiefly by scholars. Poets such as Howard Nemerov are more conservative, others such as Kenneth Koch are experimental, and still others, such as Ginsberg, are prophetic. Similarly, some Jewish-American playwrights, especially Arthur Miller, have acquired a worldwide following, while others continue to labor in obscurity. The spectrum of Jewish-American drama encompasses the liberated Jewish women of Wendy Wasserstein and Emily Mann, the gay Jewish persons who come out of the closet in the plays of Harvey Fierstein, and the satires of Arthur Kopit and Woody Allen.
The rich experiences of Jewish-American drama and poetry are captured in this authoritative reference work. The volume includes alphabetically arranged entries for more than 70 contemporary Jewish-American dramatists and poets, such as Paddy Chayevsky, Sarah Blacher Cohen, Allen Ginsberg, John Hollander, Barbara Lebow, Denise Levertov, Allen Mandelbaum, David Mamet, and Arthur Miller. Each entry includes a brief biography, a discussion of major works and themes, an overview of the critical reception of the author's writings, and a bibliography of primary and secondary sources. The first part of the book includes entries for dramatists, while the second covers poets. Each part is introduced by a short overview essay, and the volume closes with selected, general bibliographies.