The Hoopoe's Crown

Overview

Dramatically urgent from the get-go, many of Jacqueline Osherow’s poems approach inconsistencies and mysteries in Biblical texts. From traditional poetic forms (sonnet, terza rima, villanelle, sestina, acrostic, loose ottava rima) to an austere free verse, Osherow mixes humor and seriousness while maintaining a conversational tone. These poems deal with Jewish tradition and the land of Israel in revelatory new ways.

Jacqueline Osherow is the author of four previous poetry ...

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Overview

Dramatically urgent from the get-go, many of Jacqueline Osherow’s poems approach inconsistencies and mysteries in Biblical texts. From traditional poetic forms (sonnet, terza rima, villanelle, sestina, acrostic, loose ottava rima) to an austere free verse, Osherow mixes humor and seriousness while maintaining a conversational tone. These poems deal with Jewish tradition and the land of Israel in revelatory new ways.

Jacqueline Osherow is the author of four previous poetry collections. Her work has appeared in The Norton Anthology of Jewish American Literature, The Penguin Book of the Sonnet, Best American Poetry (1995 and 1998) and The Extraordinary Tide: New Poetry by American Women. Awards include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the NEA. She is a distinguished professor of English at the University of Utah.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Osherow (Looking for Angels in New York) spans Jewish history from Abraham's times to modern Orthodoxy, then wonders what makes her so interested in the "perfect and elusive reverence" shown by the most observant Jews: "I have no right to this ridiculous/ nostalgia for a thing I never had." By contrast to her own uncertainties, Osherow calls on biblical prophets and poets from several traditions: the stringent Hosea and Jeremiah lead her into gloom, while more hopeful stanzas imagine a dialogue between the Yiddish poet Jacob Glatstein and the Chinese classical poet Wang Wei. Other locale-based poems admire the prairie flowers of Saskatchewan and mock (gently) Salt Lake City, where Osherow lives. Her often deft handling of difficult forms (including a double sestina, a villanelle, several sonnets and page after page of terza rima) balances out her informal, even chatty, tone: the result (as in the work of Marilyn Hacker) is a poet who offers opinions and reactions to the weightiest questions of history and religion, while sounding less like an authority than like a particularly well-traveled friend. (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In her fifth collection (after Dead Men's Praise), Osherow delivers at once a travelog of the Holy Land and environs and a penetrating discussion of spiritual need-the hunt for grace, understanding, and absolution-cast in an Old Testament light. The evocative language comes in a gush that recalls Osherow's description of the Alhambra: "my apotheosis of opulence, excess: pure elation," and occasionally one wishes she would rein it in. Finally, though, the excess becomes the point: life is a baroque experience, freighted with complexities and assayed from many angles; consider the poem "Eccentric Fractals: Isaiah, Math, and Snow," which manages to link Isaiah's vision of a new world, the perfection and infinite possibilities of math, and the cleansing disorientation of a blizzard. We've all had moments when, like the poet, we're "inspired by this blizzard to come clean," and she revisits those moments gracefully. A fine addition to all poetry collections and perhaps some religion collections as well-not that this is devout poetry, but it addresses the issues admirably.-Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781929918720
  • Publisher: BOA Editions, Ltd.
  • Publication date: 11/1/2005
  • Series: American Poets Continuum Series
  • Pages: 92
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

JACQUELINE OSHEROW is the author of four previous books of poems. Her work has appeared in a number of anthologies, including The Norton Anthology of Jewish-American Poetry, Best American Poetry, Best Contemporary Jewish Writing, and The Extraordinary Tide: New Poems by American Women. She is Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Utah.

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Table of Contents

My version : medieval acrostic 11
Eccentric fractals : Isaiah, math, and snow
Desert postcard : 1. Highway Ninety : the Aravah 17
Desert postcard : 2. Eyn Avdat 17
Desert postcard : 3. Judean Hills 17
Fata Morgana 22
Egrets in Be'er Sheva 28
The stork in the heaven 30
Autumn psalm 33
Ri'e Yazmin 41
At the Art Nouveau Synagogue, Rue Pavee 55
At the Wailing Wall 62
Spring sonnet, with my sister's favorite bit of Deborah 63
Villanelle 64
Saskatchewan sonnets 65
Again, at San Giorgio degli Schiavoni 67
Slim fantasia on a few words from Hosea 73
Snorkeling at Coral Beach/fish in the Torah 80
Hearing news from the Temple Mount in Salt Lake City 83
Soreq 85
The hoopoe's crown 89
God's acrostic 95
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