Jazz is a form of music marked by free, exciting, soul-felt rhythm and sound. Perhaps it’s hard to conceive of the Talmud coupled with jazz, yet Marmer accomplishes this union, and very well indeed. So in “Jazz Golem” the golem in Brooklyn plays the clarinet, “…screamed out the whole Talmud, Jerusalem to Babylon/so fast so fast it blurred all letters all laws into a single musical string/blew Talmudic shapes into bubbling maddening speedy shapes/of pure music…” Feel the joy in “Soul Shakedown” in which we are told by rabbis that babies learn the Talmud but forget it upon birth, “…But the way our 2 month old/goes from apocalyptic bawling/to happy smiles when/I put Bob Marley and the Wailers on/I think maybe/while studying Talmud/with angelic Vacuum Cleaner he was also/bopping in his private soul shakedown…heart thumping liquefied bass/rhythm guitar chirping like spirit’s matchstick/at the spinning wheel of eternity.” To say more would spoil the gems in this collection, composed with musically thrilling diction and style. You will hear the music in the verses and be moved in more ways than could be imagined.
Jazz Talmud: Poems
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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