writing

5 Jewish Women Whose Poems Will Change How You Think About Identity

Woman place her arms on her lap and open book to read

Not enough people read poetry. I don’t know why, considering poetry is so short, meaning you can read it on the subway, while peeing, when you’re waiting for dinner to heat up, and even when you’re trying to ignore your kid’s tantrum for a second. Unlike a novel or short story, you don’t have to actually dedicate time to it–which is perfect if you’re a busy parent, right?

I am a poet myself, so I’m pretty biased–I have an agenda. You don’t always have to love it, but for me, reading poetry is a form of catharsis and relaxation (I’m serious), and gets me out of my head a bit.

This is why I rounded up five of my favorite female Jewish poets writing about their truths, which involve their identities, sense of womanhood, and possible motherhood. Check them out below:

1. Barbara Louise Ungar – “Ark

“each one of us rocked
in our mama’s bone canoe,

a frail link stretching
back to Africa, back to

Ocean, back to Light.”

(She also write this amazing essay, just FYI, “Distracted Notes On Being A Single Geriatric-Mother Poet“).

2. Julia Knobloch – “Daylight Saving Time

“Seven years you’ve been in this country, and you haven’t planted
anything,
not one out of one million trees, no herbs in a community garden.
You can’t afford to buy a studio in the Bronx, you barely make rent;
you won’t give birth to a first-generation American.
Not that you haven’t tried.”

3. Alicia Jo Rabins – “Chute

“Each time a baby is born
the universe squeezes itself
through a chute,
the same chute
into which
suicides squeeze themselves.”

We’ve even published some of her poems here.

4. Hila Ratzabi – “Omnipresence Is An Evolutionary Talent

“I will need a different skin for the next phase.
Call it my niche. Make it a lake.
I will build a new kind of house out of my body.”

She was interviewed by us here.

5. Rosebud Ben Oni – “Guns on the Table

“My mama is guns on the table
Her first words in english
Were make my day no
At 12 while abuelo hunted javelina along the border
She chased away a man who came to take their home
She alone
With a butcher’s knife
And then a shovel
After it all mama couldn’t walk straighter
She threw off every saint and every novio
Don’t forget she says why el mariachi dies alone”

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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