With the rise of anti-Semitism, extremism, political polarization, mass shootings, the fraying of Black-Jewish-Asian alliances, and the loss of personal connections during the age of Covid, where is God, and how can we find the joy and wonder in our lives? How do we come to terms with loss? How can art and language help us to cope with life and honor the dead? How does one act responsibly in a world that is at once beautiful and full of suffering-balanced precariously on the edge of despair and ruin?
With humor, anger, and tenderness, Richard Michelson's poems explore the boundaries between the personal and the political-and the deep connections between history and memory.
Growing up under the shadow of the Holocaust, in a Brooklyn neighborhood consumed by racial strife, Michelson's experiences were far from ordinary, yet they remain too much a part of the greater circle of poverty and violence to be dismissed as merely private concerns. In these poems, Michelson pays tribute to his father, a victim of gun violence, and honors his mother's surrender to dementia. Still, it is Michelson's sense of humor and acute awareness of Jewish history, with its ancient emphasis on the fundamental worth of human existence, that makes this accessible book, finally, celebratory and life-affirming.