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Threshold

Overview

Shirley Kaufman has long been a house favorite at Copper Canyon, and we’re celebrating her new book with a special price of $12.00.

Born in the United States, Shirley Kaufman has lived for the past 20 years in Jerusalem, a city split by cultural and religious fault lines. In direct, sensitive language, Kaufman’s poems occupy the shifting border between ordinary life and violence, Palestinian and Jew, young love and aging companionship. They ...

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Overview

Shirley Kaufman has long been a house favorite at Copper Canyon, and we’re celebrating her new book with a special price of $12.00.

Born in the United States, Shirley Kaufman has lived for the past 20 years in Jerusalem, a city split by cultural and religious fault lines. In direct, sensitive language, Kaufman’s poems occupy the shifting border between ordinary life and violence, Palestinian and Jew, young love and aging companionship. They grapple with the meaning of routine, of family, and of life among a daily existence punctured with bombs.

Sometimes I need to be nowhere. A place without history.
A life of wandering like the desert generation of Moses.
The wandering Jew. But that brings me back into history.
Sealed rooms. Windows criss-crossed with tape so the glass won’t shatter.
A dark noose of memory around my neck.
Coffins covered with flags and flags burning. I need to be nowhere.
—from "Sanctum"

"There’s such solidity to Shirley Kaufman’s writing. . . . You feel in conversation with someone wise and passionate, someone you can trust."—Poetry Flash

"Kaufman’s poems flourish in the spaces between what is familiar and unfamiliar, between life in Israel and life in the U.S., and in those moments when the differences between Palestinians and Jews, mothers and daughters, history and the immediate moment play themselves out."—American Book Review

"Kaufman is adept at revealing the human face behind politics, carefully accumulating familiar details to make a large portrait."—Publishers Weekly

Shirley Kaufman is the author of seven books of poetry and several translations from the Hebrew. Her awards include the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America and the Alice Fay di Castagnola Award. A native of Seattle, Kaufman now lives in Jerusalem.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Born in Seattle, Kaufman has lived in Jerusalem since 1973, and has published, among 13 books, selected editions of her work in English and in Hebrew. Many of these 68 poems, often a page or two long, are set in Jerusalem, and cascade down the page in short hemistichs that shape themselves, via thick margins and alternating right and left justification, into thin columns of sparse text, simultaneously spacious and constrained, like the city itself: "tiny gardens// green on the corners/ in somebody's memory// the name/ incised on a concrete slab// and a bench/ with two immovable doves." Kaufman approaches Jerusalem's bitter memories, contested histories and joyous unfoldings with a wary love; even the seemingly whimsical "Ungaretti's Umbrella" speaks of rain only to "rinse our minds if we could/ from the unthinkable." The longer poem "Immersion" memorializes the WWII destruction of the Greek island of Crete's Jewish community. The final poem, "Sanctum," entreats with willful sadness, "Let's sit here together on the throne/ as if suspended over our own deaths./ Let's lean back-easy-against the supporting stone, and trust it to bear our weight/ a little longer." The threshold on which this collection is poised remains unspoken. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556591921
  • Publisher: Copper Canyon Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/2003
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 96
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Shirley Kaufman is the author of seven books of poetry and several translations from the Hebrew. Her awards include the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America and the Alice Fay di Castagnola Award. A native of Seattle, Kaufman now makes her home in Jerusalem.

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Table of Contents

Prologue: You have to begin 3
So many zeros 7
The pines on our street 8
Our neighbor in charge 10
All over Rehavia 11
You can feel the rising 13
So we got out of Lebanon 15
And you on my birthday 17
New translation of Tsvetayeva 19
Ripple of voices around the bed 21
The trouble with anger 24
Black ink black paint 26
The Floor Keeps Turning 28
"Forgetting" he said 33
The sign on the new bridge 34
Places I'm not allowed 36
They are all we are all 38
The city levitates 40
Thirty years since I wanted 42
They've rolled the parchment 44
The evil has been committed 46
Unstoppable fury 48
And then you were peeling 51
Waking in bed in the shrill 53
No rain yet 55
Because you have everything 57
Daily ritual 59
On the wall next to my window 61
Little love poem 62
Last fling of sundown 64
What wants to continue 66
Rachel's children are playing 68
I remember when Jesus wept 70
The weatherman tells us 72
On clear nights I watch 74
February 79
The Emperor of China 80
Ungaretti's Umbrella 84
The Small Nouns 86
Translation 87
The Lawns of Delhi 93
Asparagus 94
Listening 99
Jump 101
A Sheet of Foil 102
The Haunting 104
Shell-Flowers 105
Islands 106
Little Late Marriage Poem 107
Chartreuse 108
In the Beginning 111
The Death of Rachel 112
Yael 113
Job's Wife 114
Unfinished Poem 115
Ladders 116
Hubris 117
After 121
Immersion 122
Sanctum 129
Notes 135
Acknowledgments 137
About the Author 139
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