Let Our Bod­ies Change the Subject

December 11, 2022

Let Our Bod­ies Change the Sub­ject is a poet­ry col­lec­tion that dives head­long into the ter­ri­fy­ing, won­drous, sleep-deprived exis­tence of being a par­ent in twen­ty-first-cen­tu­ry Amer­i­ca. In clear, dynam­ic vers­es that dis­arm then strike, Jared Harél inves­ti­gates our days through the key­hole of domes­tic­i­ty, through per­son­al lyrics and cul­tur­al reck­on­ings. Whether tak­ing a fam­i­ly trip to Coney Island or sim­ply show­ing his son snowflakes on Inau­gu­ra­tion morn­ing, Harél guides us toward moments of inti­ma­cy and under­stand­ing, humor and grief.

I will try,” he admits, to be bet­ter than myself, which is all/I’ve ever want­ed and every­thing I need.” Win­ner of the Raz/​Shumaker Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poet­ry, Let Our Bod­ies Change the Sub­ject is a sec­u­lar prayer. Hop­ing against hope, Harél works to rec­on­cile feel­ings of luck and loss, of liv­ing for joy while fear­ing the worst.

Discussion Questions

Jared Harél’s Let Our Bod­ies Change the Sub­ject is a mov­ing and humor­ous med­i­ta­tion on father­hood, Jew­ish iden­ti­ty, love, divin­i­ty, and the quo­tid­i­an. In tight, epiphan­ic poems that become qui­et odes to fam­i­ly and the domes­tic realm, Harél finds mean­ing in the every­day moments of par­ent­ing and being par­ent­ed, as well as in Jew­ish rit­u­al, a flood­ed base­ment, Leonard Cohen, and the wings of a heron. Hard­ship and anx­i­ety lurk under the sur­face of these poems — Harél also touch­es on anti­semitism, alco­holism, pol­i­tics, and grief — but in this way, Let Our Bod­ies Change the Sub­ject encom­pass­es the full spec­trum of our human­ness: the bro­ken, the hum­drum, and the miraculous.