This book begins with a silence. While Jewish American fiction has long been recognized as a fit subject for critical inquiry, Jewish American poetry has largely been overlooked. Recently, a few books have started to redress this silence, focusing on some specific Jewish American poets. However, even as these studies begin to identify specific individuals as Jewish American poets, the field must be theorized so that we might understand this fascinating occlusion. Poetic forms need to be identified; and the material difference of Jewish cultural practice must be taken into account. Taking a broad view of the subject, Singing in a Strange Land asks: How does being Jewish-in-America affect poetic production? And how does poetry help shape Jewish American identity? Beginning with a historical inquiry into the status of Jewish poetry as a marginalized kind of writing, and moving on to detailed analyses of poets including Allen Ginsberg, Adrienne Rich, Louis Zukofsky, Louise Gluck, George Oppen, and Allen Grossman, Singing in a Strange Land helps us think about the ways in which displacement, exile, mourning, gender, and prayer contribute to the shaping of the Jewish American imagination and its poetic production.
Maeera Y. Shreiber is Associate Professor of English at the University of Utah, specializing in modern and contemporary American poetry. She is also the coeditor of two essay collections on poetry, Dwelling in Possibility: Women Poets and Critics on Poetry (1997) and Mina Loy: Poet and Woman (1997). Currently, she is working on a study of the relationships between poetry and religion.