Judith Kerman’s Aleph, broken

The mud-luscious season we entered as soon as this past pile of snow started melting is perfect for poetry. Or at least its reading. The renewing holidays of Passover and Easter approach as the introspection of winter is passing.

In her latest book, Aleph, broken (Broadstone, 2016), Judith Kerman writes achingly of a Judaism never fully observed, yet carried deep within her ways of observing life, or at least its vestiges in memory. Her poetry is personalized, concise, attuned to allowing the universal escape from the particular. She visits her mother’s home in Florida, unearths mementos and recollections of her father. Observes her brother.

Moreover, Kerman reaches into the worlds of literature she has spent a lifetime in to create her own lyrical definitions of occasionally obtuse terms such as metaphor and metaphysics, consumerism and apocalypse, Israel and Diaspora. She creates three succinct sections — Conundrum, Vessels and Global Positioning — then allows echoes and rhythms to join the three. The result is a widening of discourse, of vision, of the heart, albeit in an unsentimental fashion. Until one realizes the sentiment inherent in all detailed observation reliant on a lifetime’s living.


The cut side of a fresh tomato
gleams like the world
seen from space:
jeweled lights,
swirls of flesh
flow and ebb.
Salt floods the open places
where my heartbeat pauses,
and I might, if I choose,
plunge in,
splash in the juice,
swim to the horizon,
Red Sea unfurling,
opening its arms.

Thus reads Salad, in the volume’s final section.

Or earlier, in Parable:

fall on the
ground around the tree,
hard enough to bruise. Something soft
appears where soil and apple kiss: rot begins to stain
the metal with something the color of blood, sweetness.

The very shapes of these poems tell stories: of a life lived in literature, but still reliant on all the senses, as well as that sense of what should, and does matter deep within.

Judith Kerman’s latest is a reach, but also a confirmation of long-nurtured and respected skills. While also funny. After all, how many books do you know, at all, that end with the simple line: “Don’t buy too many books.”




Kerman, Gerber, Israel to read at Book Launch

Local authors Judith Kerman, Leslie Gerber and Sharon Israel will participate in a Book Launch offered by Post Traumatic Press, 2 p.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, March 26 at the Woodstock Artists Association and Museum, Tinker Street, Woodstock.

Kerman, who has published eight collections of poetry, will read from and sign copies of Postcards from America. Gerber, who has published two collections of poetry and written thousands of music reviews and articles for this paper, will read from his collection The Edge of Sleep. Israel has published one collection of poetry and hosts the radio program, Planet Poet-Words in Space, on WIOX FM, in Roxbury.

The event is free and open to the public. Donation to WAAM are welcomed.