Into My Garden by David Caplan

Into My Garden by David Caplan

Jewish Poetry Project

“These remarkable poems blend spiritual unease with religious confidence, an investigator’s fascinated spirit with a sense that the poet has almost—but not quite—come home. Caplan writes to portray this Orthodox Jewish world as a set of real people with serious joys and concerns, neither figures for trouble elsewhere (the land of Israel never appears) nor idealized Others from an ancestral past. Other poets have made American poems from Jewish interpretive traditions; Caplan stands out in that he makes poems about the present-day people who try to live by those traditions. Caplan’s lines try to bring into their pace and their phrasing, their details given and withheld, a way of life that he shares in part, and stands outside in part, and has brought into his circumspect and introspective American English. This project of sympathy with the yeshiva students never seems more successful than when Caplan shares their joys: the third person of ‘Chassidus by Telephone,’ asking ‘To get religious—what does that mean?’ might be somebody the poet observes ‘on the train home’ or it might be the poet himself, without an epiphany or a ‘wonder story,’ who nonetheless finds that ‘a lecture on fear and love’ has become ‘a wordless tune,’ an experience at once aesthetic, sociable, discursive, and religious, a credible form of communal sacred song.”
—Stephanie Burt

Year first published: 2020

The book's page at the publisher's site

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