Kann, Rachel. “How to Bless the New Moon: The Priestess Paths Cycle and Other Poems for Queens”, (Jewish Poetry Project), Ben Yehudah Press, 2019.
I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Rachel Kann last week and to hear her read her poetry. It was quite an experience. She lets us know that being a prophet is not dead and that each of us has the possibility of reaching that point. We can all be touched by “forces far beyond our [your] mundane knowing.” It is best to be clear here about what is a prophet. It is not someone who sees the future, a definition it has claimed through modernism. Rather, a prophet is one who speaks to God and to whom God replies. Kann’s words take us to the place where we feel that God is with and in us and that our conversations are meaningful, healing and transformative. Kann celebrates that we are the “very mystery we are discussing. ”
Reading Kann’s poems at home did not bring me to this point. It was when I heard her read them that I recognized the truth she espouses. That does not mean that you cannot enjoy the poem by just reading them— they just become more powerful when she relays what she writes. I want to believe that poetry is for everyone even though I know that many do not want to be bothered with it. The bother becomes what transforms us and I can only hope that these words will make you want to bother. Remember, it is perfectly okay to approach a poem with no knowledge of the genre. When you feel the results of that, you become that much of a better person.
Kann writes about women, specifically feminist women in the bible and she presents us with a new way to see life. We also see these women differently that we usually do when reading the holy books. Our imagination allows us to see how they were once and Kann brings them into our lives today. We begin to see them as part of us and as part of those we know. The fact that they lived thousands of years ago no longer holds importance.
we need to not only imagine that these women once.
I found something cosmic yet earthy in the poems in this collection and this allows me to look at things differently and tempts me to try things I have not done before. This is transformation. Mixing the wisdom of life with the wisdom of Biblical women provides a new outlook on things that we so often take for granted. Those of you who know me and read my work know that I see fine literature as a transformative art and I look for that in everything I read and review. Seldom does it jump out at me as quickly as it does here.
I could do as I usually do when reviewing poetry— pull lines out of contest to show my point but to do that would take away from the volume as a whole. I want you to be able to approach these poems knowing as little about them as possible so that they can affect you in the ways that they affect me. These poems are more than a read; they are a total experience.