The Hoopoe's Crown

Jacqueline Osherow, Author . BOA $14.95 (103p) ISBN 978-1-929918-72-0

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.)

Reviewed on: 10/24/2005
Release date: 11/01/2005
Genre: Fiction
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