Walt Whitman and the Making of Jewish American Poetry by Dara Barnat
Iowa Whitman Series
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.
Year first published: 2024