As dismissal and disdain of Jews speak through the art of some leading twentieth-century poets, so the poetry of Rodger Kamenetz artfully answers, framing in subtle terms the questions that haunt our culture-about the voices through which culture speaks, about the identity of poet and poetry, about the capacity of art to harm and to heal. Whether subjecting the anti-Semitic verses of T. S. Eliot to a literary trial; conjuring the eloquence with which "Allen Ginsberg forgives Ezra Pound on Behalf of the Jews"; or drawing upon personal history, the Torah, and Jewish mysticism to explore the tangled relations of Jewish identity and modern literature, Kamenetz's poems attest to the inexorable power of language.
Rodger Kamenetz's The Jew in the Lotus (Harper San Francisco, 1995) is the classic account of Jewish Buddhist dialogue; his Stalking Elijah (Harper San Francisco, 1997) won the National Jewish Book Award for 1997. His four previous books of poetry include The Missing Jew: New and Selected Poems (Time Being Books, 1992), which reviewers called "the most significant book of American Jewish poetry" of its year, citing him as " one of the most formidable of Jewish voices of American poetry." His poems won a PrairieSchooner Reader's Choice award and have appeared in scores of publication including The New Republic, Grand Street, and Tikkun, and in a dozen major anthologies including Telling and Remembering, Jewish AmericanPoetry, and The Best Contemporary Jewish Writing. Kamenetz teaches poetry and non-fiction writing in the MFA program at Louisiana State University and directs the Art-Spirit program at Vermont Studio Centers. He also edits Psalm 151, a monthly poetry feature, for the Forward. Kamenetz will be lecturing this fall in various cities about anti-semitism in poetry, the topic of this new book. Kamenetz is a native of Baltimore.