Walt Whitman and the Making of Jewish American Poetry (Iowa Whitman Series) (Paperback)

Walt Whitman and the Making of Jewish American Poetry (Iowa Whitman Series) By Dara Barnat Cover Image
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Walt Whitman has served as a crucial figure within the tradition of Jewish American poetry. But how did Whitman, a non-Jewish, American-born poet, become so instrumental in this area of poetry, especially for poets whose parents, and often they themselves, were not “born here?”

Dara Barnat presents a genealogy of Jewish American poets in dialogue with Whitman, and with each other, and reveals how the lineage of Jewish American poets responding to Whitman extends far beyond the likes of Allen Ginsberg. From Emma Lazarus and Adah Isaacs Menken, through twentieth-century poets such as Charles Reznikoff, Karl Shapiro, Kenneth Koch, Muriel Rukeyser, Adrienne Rich, Marge Piercy, Alicia Suskin Ostriker, and Gerald Stern, this book demonstrates that Whitman has been adopted by Jewish American poets as a liberal symbol against exclusionary and anti-Semitic elements in high modernist literary culture. The turn to Whitman serves as a mode of exploring Jewish and American identity.

About the Author

Dara Barnat is senior faculty member and head of the Division of Languages at Tel Aviv University. She is author of The City I Run From: Poems of Tel Aviv. Barnat lives in Tel Aviv and New York.

Praise For…

“The arrival of this virtuosic study is surely cause for celebration. Barnat brilliantly illuminates the rich tapestry of complex intersections between America’s ‘Bard of Democracy’ and generations of significant Jewish American poets whom he inspired and provoked. Truly groundbreaking, it is an indispensable gift to scholars of Whitman and Jewish literature alike.”—Ranen Omer-Sherman, author, Imagining the Kibbutz: Visions of Utopia in Literature and Film

“In Barnat’s highly readable, well-researched account, the enduring affinity between Jewish poets and Whitman becomes a prism through which to understand the history of Jewish American poetry itself. A welcome and timely contribution to the ongoing conversation about the remaking of Jewish culture and identity in the United States.”—Julian Levinson, author, Exiles on Main Street: Jewish American Writers and American Literary Culture

“From Emma Lazarus to Allen Ginsberg and beyond, Jewish American poets’ reactions to Whitman have been intense and nuanced, and formative of some of our country’s most impressive and influential literature. In this compact, long-overdue study, Barnat shows how these poets and others, have interpreted Whitman as ‘implicitly Jewish’ and in doing so redefined Whitman, themselves, and the American poetic tradition.”—Matt Miller, coeditor, Every Hour, Every Atom: A Collection of Walt Whitman’s Early Notebooks and Fragments
Product Details
ISBN: 9781609389079
ISBN-10: 1609389077
Publisher: University Of Iowa Press
Publication Date: August 1st, 2023
Pages: 215
Language: English
Series: Iowa Whitman Series