On the Border: A Jewish Writing and Reading Workshop with Richard Chess, Director for the Center for Jewish Studies at UNC Asheville
Borders define and divide us. They can be sites of conflict, and they can be meeting places, where love, compassion, and kindness arise. Think of the threshold of a Jewish home, with its mezuzah affixed aslant there reminding us to love . . . and to compromise, to come together in a mutually agreed upon promise or intention, to make one out of two. In this workshop, we’ll look at the way poems by mostly Jewish writers consider borders of all kinds: political, religious, cultural, historical, and linguistic. The poets whose work we’ll consider include Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai and American-Jewish poet Jacquelyn Osherow, American-Israeli Jewish poet Peter Cole, and Palestinian-Israeli poet Taha Muhammad Ali, whose work has been translated by Cole. Our exploration of the work of others will include a variety of contemplative practices as a way of experiencing the poems deeply. We’ll talk about these poems, and then, based on what we notice in their work, we’ll write our own poems and prose exploring one or another of the borders that we as Jews encounter in our lives. I will also share a couple of poems and works of lyrical prose from my new book, Love Nailed to the Doorpost, and copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing at the conclusion of the workshop.