Winner of this year’s Charlotte Newberger Poetry Prize
This was an amazing year. There were so many excellent poems, of so many different sorts. The winner I have chosen is “The Fifteenth of Av.” In Israel, the Fifteenth of Av has become a sort of Valentine’s day. This rich poem crosses so many boundaries in its capturing what this Jewish holy day might mean to a woman in our time. Is it a secular poem, is it a religious poem? It is really both. It shows how an ordinary surface life can be deepened by letting Jewish meanings in — Judaism of present and past, earth and heaven, nature and spirituality, war and peace, girlhood and womanhood speak to each other in this poem. The voice of the Lord and the voice of the Shekhinah are both made real. This is a woman’s poem celebrating life — two good hands in the good dirt of it.