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Secular texts meet religious sensibilities

By Harriet Staff

In Pitch, the fourth volume in a predicted six-volume tome entitled Drafts, Rachel Blau DuPlessis proves why “Midrashic Sensibility” isn’t limited to Torah study. Critic David Kaufmann examines how the meditative, probing way DuPlessis both asks and answers questions in her poetry is akin to Midrashic investigation.

DuPlessis refers to covenants and therefore to the Covenant, and like many progressives she seems to locate her Yiddishkeit in no small part in a secularized version of the Jewish demand for justice. In “Hard Copy,” the emphasis lies on witness and repair. But when she describes herself and her work, DuPlessis defines her Jewishness in broader terms. You could call it an attitude, “a reverence for textuality so intense it moves into an antic quality within the seriousness, an exilic, nomadic sensibility, a certain kind of humor … a quarrel with the negative space some call God, a particular, actually somewhat skeptical, somewhat hopeful attitude to fulfillment and messianic hope.”

Posted in Poetry News on Saturday, July 10th, 2010 by Harriet Staff.