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photo of Judith Kerman by Franco Vogt copyright 2014

I am Judith Kerman, a poet, performer and artist with broad cultural and scholarly interests. I have published ten books or chapbooks of poetry, most recently Aleph, broken: Poems from My Diaspora (Broadstone Books, 2016). My next book of poems, definitions, will be published by Fomite Press in May 2021.

I have also published three books of translations of Spanish Caribbean poetry and fiction by women, and edited or co-edited two scholarly anthologies.

My revised webpage is powered by WordPress. I may not blog very often, but I will post my current activities and publications, as well as my resume, bibliography, photos, etc.

The video documentary, Carnaval in the Dominican Republic, which I made in 2005, is now available on YouTube on the Judith Kerman channel, where you can also find videos of a number of my readings and  experimental videos.

For information about possible readings and interviews, please contact my publicist, Mary Bisbee-Beek, at mbisbee.beek@gmail.com.

Buy my books (from me): Judith Kerman – Books for sale (opens a new page)

My Author Page on Amazon: www.amazon.com/-/e/B00IZQ6WPI (opens in a new page)

Virtual Reading at Congregation T’Chiyah

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On Monday, March 8 at 7 p.m. EST, I will read from my last book, Aleph, broken: Poems from My Diaspora, at my original home synagogue, Congregation T’Chiyah in Metro Detroit. Please contact me for the zoom link.

Cholent

The tradition is a stone building
windows filled with yellow light.
Black letters, square and mysterious as granite.
Wrought iron, that other voice:
Arbeit Macht Frei
spreading its arms across the gate.
The sword turns at the door.

I sit by Grandpa,
a wriggling toddler,
the only female in the shul.
I do not see a balcony, a curtain
hiding the women.
Old men in black fedoras
bow and sing.
The echo of the flames
is close in our ears; I do not know
the names of Grandpa’s brothers
who died before I was born.

Fridays, women in other houses
rush about, cleaning and cooking,
heating the oven to keep the cholent hot
meat and fruit, a stewing sweetness
I’ve never tasted.
My mother didn’t stand
white cloth on her head
lighting candles.
At Chanukkah, when I put the menorah
in the window, I hear the glass breaking.

Those who understand these images
Those who don’t

The books open the wrong way.
Yellow light
lies under the apple trees
like honey.

New book!

My next collection of poems, definitions, is in press and will be available in May 2021. It is a collection of poems in an innovative form, pretending to be dictionary definitions, organized as an alphabetic palindrome and consisting of wordplay, imagery and bits of memoir.

Here’s the first poem, as a sample:

air
\ˈer\\
—noun; verb

  1. Walk out and breathe deeply:
    fresh scent of pine, leaf mold,
    rain coming. In August,
    first drops on road dust.
  2. A lovely song, fresh and light,
    sometimes with variations.
    An aria. I fill my lungs, trying to
    feel my back ribs stretch
    for a full breath,
    an extended phrase.
  3. Put it out for broadcast.
    We need more of it,
    flushing the dark rooms
    where politicians
    plot.
  4. In winter, it bites.

Upcoming reading

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Caffe Lena, Saratoga Springs, October 5, 2016, 7 p.m.

Also open mic

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Pet Peeve (wearing my publisher/editor hat right now)

One of the things that makes me nuts when I’m reading manuscripts is pages that don’t end where my copy of Word (or my Submittable feed) says they should. I get the title for the next poem, chapter or story at the bottom of the page, often disconnected from the body of the text. It’s amazing that many writers don’t know about Page Break. I don’t know how you do this on a Mac, but it must be available – on a PC, it’s EASY. No, you don’t use the Enter key to shove the cursor onto the next page. PLEASE don’t do that. Because if my Submittable screen or copy of Word isn’t set with exactly the same margins, the page break won’t be in the right place.

How to do it right? When you get to the end of the poem, story, etc., hold down the Ctrl key and hit Enter. That will force a Page Break, which will work no matter how long the reader’s page is set to be. Carries over into PDFs and makes it easy to do layout (if your book is, as we hope, accepted). But even for reading manuscripts, and whether read online or printed out, this matters to a reader.