Tekiah: Poems

Richard Chess, Author
Richard Chess, Author University of Georgia Press $14.95 (70p) ISBN 978-0-8203-1678-9
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In his first book, Chess asks urgent questions about the ways in which Jewish history (recent and Biblical) shapes individual life. The poetry offers moments of narrative and sudden illuminations, exploring how humans and the divine communicate. Chess's images can be startling, rich with empathy, loneliness and intimacy. But at times he allows himself unoriginal language that tends to obscure feeling. And occasionally he stops short, as if before a gate leading to further complexity. The poems can also waver confusingly among pronouns, or acquiesce to imprecise verbs; but they are capable, too, of wit and tenderness. The best work is moving and direct, as seen in Chess's final poem, ``Tekiah Gedolah,'' a passionate account of the binding of Isaac in which the blasting call, or tekiah, of the ram's horn expresses a child's unspoken anguish and rage. Here Chess calls on himself, for those who have been silenced, to restore language. (Nov.)
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