Approach­ing You in English

Admiel Kos­man; Lisa Katz and Shlomit Naim-Naor, trans.
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By – November 28, 2012

A Jew­ish schol­ar, Admiel Kos­man focus­es his poet­ry on prayer, the Bible, the Tal­mud, and the Midrash but refus­es to be stereo­typ­i­cal­ly bound by the sacred. Instead he explores the sec­u­lar as well, pon­der­ing erot­ic love, gen­der, and iden­ti­ty, yield­ing a new iden­ti­ty that actu­al­ly deep­ens faith and patri­ot­ic expres­sion. For exam­ple, in A Poet,” Kos­man writes, “…I have built a minia­ture Sodom,/on my bed, for experiments./I have built Gomorah./Use me please:/for a good deed or an infraction./Body of Israel!/Experiment on me.” What these vers­es elic­it will be unique in each read­er! Or in I try to wake you in the dark,” Can You hear my voice in the dark?…Can You see me?…Because all through the night/​I have been throw­ing words at You,/expecting You./For no reason./From Mec­ca or Medina./Jerusalem or Hebron.” A beau­ty lies in these truth-seek­ing words, a prayer and yet not a prayer, Ortho­dox me forth and/​back. Ortho­dox me, just/​around you…Oh my love,/Jeruzalem! Ortho­dox me!/Heavy load around my neck.” Fame and pur­pose are most essen­tial­ly expressed when one assists one’s wife (it could be any mem­ber of one’s fam­i­ly) in lay­ing a table­cloth or some oth­er request­ed act. For Admiel Kos­man, truth and faith must evolve in both tra­di­tion­al and rev­o­lu­tion­ary ways.

Deb­o­rah Schoen­e­man, is a for­mer Eng­lish teacher/​Writing Across the Cur­ricu­lum Cen­ter Coor­di­na­tor at North Shore Hebrew Acad­e­my High School and coed­i­tor of Mod­ern Amer­i­can Lit­er­a­ture: A Library of Lit­er­ary Crit­i­cism, Vol. VI, pub­lished in 1997.

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