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crop-Franco-Vogt-copyright-2014Judith Kerman is a poet, performer and artist with broad cultural and scholarly interests. She has published ten books or chapbooks of poetry, most recently Aleph, broken: Poems from My Diaspora (Broadstone Books, 2016). Her next book of poems, definitions, will be published by Fomite Press in May 2021.

She has 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.

For my Author Page on Amazon, go to www.amazon.com/-/e/B00IZQ6WPI

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

image

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.

 

Diaspora issues

I attended an enjoyable and stimulating gathering of poets at the Gell Center in Naples, NY, this weekend. The theme was pilgrimage, which somehow hooked up to diaspora at one point, and it gave me a new idea for the “elevator pitch.” So here’s a new version:


 

America is often described as a land of immigrants. It is less often noticed that America is a land of diaspora. People from all kinds of backgrounds, religious and ethnic, find themselves in an ambivalent relationship to assimilation and also to their cultures of family origin.  We work at finding a home here while also thinking about the old home place (physical, cultural, spiritual) that may or may not be possible to visit. We often feel tugged toward cultural memories that may be heavily romanticized or traumatic or both. One obvious example of this phenomenon is the situation of American Jews.  Although the dominant experience of American Jewish life is assimilation and attenuation of religious meaning, much Jewish poetry takes the religious tradition as a given. However, this leaves out the large percentage of American Jews who are secular and whose relationship to Judaism is ambiguous or conflicted.

Aleph, broken, a collection of poems by Judith Kerman, will appeal to readers, both Jewish and not, interested in the tension between American identity and the other resonances rooted in culture of origin. The book explores an unconventional but not atypical Jewish identity, one that is scientific and secular but yearning for connections usually found in Jewish observance, history and belief. These poems center around ways in which life and Jewishness are not what Kerman was taught to expect. They reflect both real and imagined personal experience, related to Judaism but also to larger contemporary issues and Kerman’s explorations of other cultures as they connect to personal identity.

Kerman was raised in an atheist home with a strong sense of history and progressive politics as part of Jewish identity. She acquired a broad knowledge of both the Hebrew Bible and Jewish culture through reading. In her late forties, she became active in Jewish religious and community life. However, the conventional understanding of Jewishness remains problematic for her, while the tradition of argument, exploration and dispute remains compelling—a challenge faced by all those who still feel rooted in their culture of origin while finding a deeper meaning in the great scope of human experience.


Comments welcome.