Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


Hebrew in New York

Rivka Miriam reads her poetry

Print Email
Rivka Miriam.(Wikimedia Commons)

“I don’t understand my poems,” the Israel poet Rivka Miriam told an audience in Manhattan last week. “The things we write are stronger and wiser than we are.” Miriam was reading from her newest book, These Mountains, at the brownstone of Sally Gottesman, a prominent philanthropist. The event was organized by Rabbi Steven Shaw of the Radius Foundation and co-hosted by Gottesman and Nextbook Press editor Jonathan Rosen.

Miriam, who was born in Jerusalem in 1952 and describes herself in one of her poems as a “slightly round woman with gray hair,” spoke about her life as well as her work, employing a distinctive tone of earthy specificity and dreamlike wonder. Her father, Leib Rochman, was a Yiddish writer who survived the Holocaust in Poland with his wife; they were hidden by a prostitute and a thief. Both parents’ entire families were killed, and that sense of ineffable loss infuses Miriam’s writing, as does the gratitude felt by her father, author of the harrowing memoir The Pit and the Trap. When Miriam was a little girl, he opened his Jerusalem home to writers, artists, wanderers, and musicians. On the streets of Jerusalem, her father’s eyes would sometimes fill with tears out of sheer joy that he was now living in the holy city. Her mother, deep in dementia, repeated the single phrase over and over that out of 6,000 Jews in her hometown, only 20 had survived, and that she, miraculously among them, “had the honor to live in Jerusalem.”

Miram was raised speaking Yiddish, a language she is still attached to. Like her deep connection to her parents’ European experience, it seems to give her a diasaporic sensibility in addition to her Israeli one. Nevertheless, she is fiercely devoted to her country and writes only in Hebrew, a language she loves, though she refers to it as “all bones.”

“Once,” she told the audience, “I was sick and wrote four poems in Yiddish.”

The noted Israeli writer David Grossman, with whom Miriam has studied Jewish texts once a week for the past fifteen years, has commented, “Rivka Miriam’s poetic voice is one of the most refined and moving in Jewish and Israeli poetry today.” The poems in These Mountains, published by Toby Press, is a collection selected and translated from the Hebrew by fellow poet Linda Stern Zisquit. The handful of poems Rivka recited in Hebrew read like a gentle narration over an ambivalent reality, even in English. With a bibliography of seventeen books, Miriam writes with a purpose. In her translator’s note, Zisquit remarks, “[Rivka] has described her function as one of carrying the ancient and modern figures of Jewish history inside her”—a pursuit made palpable in New York last week.

Print Email
sharon rosen teig says:

the first thought that came to my mind after I read this, was how wonderful we have poetry, no matter what language. in reading about the american-arab population in the united states, i’ve seen arabic music and poetry become available to all of us too…valuing heritage, valuing survival, and valuing beauty are universal goals.

Thats excellent and very nicely written.Often I tend not to make comments on the web, however Ive to say that this site actually made me want to. Actually excellent little bit of material

I love appointing your organization. Your web layout may be very easy on the eye. You have got a great spot to shop. I seriously enjoyed navigating and even ordering from your site. It is amazingly, very in order to and user-friendly and uncomplicated. Great job at a fabulous internet site.

I own read the article. It’s genuinely helpful. We may benefit a lot from them. Fluent authoring style and also vivid terms make us readers benefit from reading. I could share ones opinions having my friends.

I would like to say the correct way incredibly impressed I’m with any speed of one’s shipments. I am a fresh customer, and have at the moment ordered 2 times Using USPS intended for shipping, I gained my primary package within 4 days to weeks, and a good number of impressively : I ordered another time for a Friday and even received my package to the following Monday! Besides developing a great assortment, prices, and project suggestions, this has made me a customer for existence!!

You could definitely see your expertise within the paintings you write. The sector hopes for more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to mention how they believe. All the time go after your heart.

When I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new surveys are added- checkbox and today every time a comment is added I purchase four emails with the same comment. Is there in whatever way you can eliminate me from that service? Thanks!

Terrific work! This is the type of information that should be shared around the webShame on Google for not positioning this post higher! Come on over and visit my site Thanks =)


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Hebrew in New York

Rivka Miriam reads her poetry

More on Tablet:

Israel’s New Zionist Camp Is Anything But

By Liel Leibovitz — Lacking a vision of the future, Labor reinvents itself by misreading the past