Books by Our Literature Faculty


Past Faculty


Literature Faculty 


Open Your Hand: Teaching as a Jew, Teaching as an American. Fifteen years into a successful career as a college professor, Ilana Blumberg encounters a crisis in the classroom that sends her back to the most basic questions about education and prompts a life-changing journey that ultimately takes her from East Lansing to Tel Aviv.
Victorian Sacrifice: Ethics and Economics in Mid-Century Novels.  A major reconsideration of the central Victorian ethic of self-sacrifice, suggesting that much of what we have taken to be the moral psychology of Victorian fiction may be understood in terms of the dramatic confrontation between Christian theology and the world of modern economic theory. 
Blumberg traces her own path from a childhood immersed in Hebrew and classical Judaic texts as well as Anglo-American novels and biographies, to a womanhood where the two literatures suddenly represent mutually exclusive possibilities for life.  Winner of the Sami Rohr Choice Award for Jewish Literature.

Dr. Blumberg's home page and full publication list.

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The Parting Gift: A Novel. An unnamed narrator writes a letter to an old college friend, Adam, with whom he has been staying since his abrupt return to the States from Israel. Now that the narrator is moving on to a new location, he finally reveals the events that led him to Adam's door, set in motion by a chance encounter with Uzi, a spice merchant whose wares had developed a cult following.
When We Danced on Water, a novel.  At eighty-five, Teo has had a full life as a dancer and prize-winning choreographer. But when Vivi enters his life, both experience a shift in their relationships to art and life itself, and the experiences they have tried to suppress – in Warsaw, Copenhagen, Berlin and Tel Aviv – resurface with a vengeance.
Light Fell, a novel.  Joseph Licht will host his five grown sons and his new daughter-in-law for the entire Sabbath, the first time the family will be reunited in twenty years.  In this novel of desire and need, of choices and consequences, no one is unaffected.
Meir Shalev, My Russian Grandmother and Her American Vacuum Cleaner (trans.).  A lighthearted tale of family ties and over-the-top housekeeping in the village of Meir Shalev's birth, where his unforgettable Grandma Tonia, who came to Palestine by boat from Russia in 1923, lived in a constant state of battle with the family's biggest enemy: dirt.
Yair Lapid, Memories After My Death (trans.).  The astonishing true story of the author’s father, Tommy Lapid, a well-loved and controversial Israeli figure who witnessed the development of the country from all angles over its first sixty years. 
Ron Leshem, Beaufort (trans.).  Runner up for the 2010 Times Literary Supplement Risa Domb/Porjes Prize for the Translation of Hebrew Literature, this stunning debut—winner of Israel’s top literary prize in 2006—is a haunting coming-of-age story set at an Israeli outpost in southern Lebanon.
Meir Shalev, A Pigeon and a Boy (trans.).  A finalist for the PEN Translation Prize, this mesmerizing novel is set in both contemporary Israel and during the 1948 War of Independence: two stories of love, separated by half a century, but connected by one magical act of devotion.
Alon Hilu, House of Rajani (trans.).  This rich and colourful novel is made up of the two opposing journals of Hilu's intriguing and extraordinary protagonists - a troubled Muslim boy anda handsome young Jewish settler - as they negotiate love, honour and betrayal in the changing world of nineteenth-century Palestine. 
Alon Hilu, Death of a Monk (trans.).  In rich, vivid language that startles in its virtuosity and versatility, Death of a Monk presents a fictitious version of the historical event known as the Damascus Blood Libel of 1840.
Batya Gur, Murder in Jerusalem (trans.).  The crowning achievement of a magnificent career, this final installment in the Michael Ohayon series is one last fascinating visit to an always tumultuous land, in the company of a writer and a detective so many devoted readers have loved so well.

Prof. Fallenberg's home page and full publication list.

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Dr. Feldman's home page and full publication list.

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The Last Rabbi: Joseph Soloveitchik and Talmudic Tradition.  Shows how Soloveitchik was torn between the traditionalism of his European ancestors and his own radical and often pluralist philosophy. A portrait of this self-professed “lonely man of faith” reveals him to be a reluctant modern who paves the way for a return to tradition that hinges on the ethical embrace of multiplicity.
John Milton's Areopagitica.  The great seventeenth-century English poet's impassioned defense of freedom of spech and the press, in a new Hebrew translation by Aviad Stier and an introduction by William Kolbrener.
Open-Minded Torah: Of Irony, Fundamentalism, and Love.  Brilliant and unorthodox essays that elicit unheard voices from the Jewish past for a 21st century Judaism at a time when fundamentalists and fanatics often dominate conversations about religion. 
Mary Astell:  Reason, Gender, Faith  (ed. with Michal Michelson).  A collection of essays that examine Astell's political, theological, philosophical, educational, and poetic writings, analyzing her role not only in developing early modern feminism but as a major figure of the period.
Milton's Warring Angels: A Study of Critical Engagements. Kolbrener argues that Milton resists the paradigms of modernity drawn from the Enlightenment.  His writing instead mediates between apparently contradictory positions. 



Prof. Kolbrener's home page and full publication list.

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S.Y. Agnon, And the Crooked Shall Be Made Straight (trans.). Agnon's first book-length work. written in 1912' told in the guise of a hassidic folktale masks the complex modern tension in the work. This is Agnon's great epic tragedy of a man faced with an impossible dilemma. Now available for the first time in English, translated by Prof. Michael Kramer, fully annotated and with a critical introduction.
Before the Flood: Early Jewish American Writing. A special issue of Studies in American Jewish Literature, the first ever collection of essays dedicated to the neglected area of Jewish writing in America before the East European immigration.  Edited with an historiographical introduction by Michael P. Kramer.  For an interview with the editor, click here.
The Turn Around Religion in America: Literature, Culture, and the Work of Sacvan Bercovitch. Edited with Nan Goodman.  "This collection addresses Bercovitch’s characteristic themes during a long career …This reviewer cannot imagine the Americanist who will not need to refer to this book at least once in his/her career…Highly recommended.'" Choice
Modern Jewish Literatures: Intersections and Boundaries. Edited with Sheila Jelen and Scott Lerner. Modern Jewish literature has neither a common geography nor a shared language and the field is so diverse that it strains the bounds of literary categories. These essays collected take on the challenge by describing movements across boundaries .... 
Jewish Bodies: The Flesh Made Words (Maggid 3). New essays, fiction, and poetry by Melvin Jules Bukiet, Haim Gouri, Rodger Kamenetz, Etgar Keret, Daniel Mendelsohn, Alicia Ostriker, Joseph Skibell, Steve Stern and Eleanor Wilner, among many others--. and new translations of S.Y. Agnon and Hanoch Levin. Dedicated to the memory of Shaindy Rudoff.
Jewish Lives: Memoirs and More (Maggid 2). "This volume is peopled by different kinds of Jews, with different kinds of lives, telling different kinds of stories in different ways.  These are stories of people whose lives mattered, and continue to matter.  Lives that define what it means to be a Jew in our times."
Jewish American Writing: 350 New Years Later (Maggid 1).  New writing by Max Apple, Rachel Back, Melvin Bukiet, Leslie Epstein, Rebecca Goldstein, Allen Hoffman, Shirley Kaufman, Alicia Ostriker, Cynthia Ozick, Robert Pinsky, Mark Rudman, Nava Semel, Alan Shapiro, Jospeph Skibell, Gerald Stern, Steve Stern, Aryeh Lev Stollman, Linda Zisquit, Rachel Zucker.
The Scarlet Letter & The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne.  Hawthorne's two most well-known novels.  Edited with a new introduction that places the reader at the "threshhold" of Hawthorne's romances.
The Cambridge Companion to Jewish American Literature.  Edited with Hana Wirth-Nesher.  This Companion addresses the distinctive Jewish American contribution to American fiction, criticism, poetry and popular culture. It establishes the broadest possible context for the discussion of Jewish American identity as it intersects with the corpus of American literature.
New Essays on Saul Bellow's Seize the Day.  A multifaceted introduction to Nobel Prize-winner Saul Bellow's most widely read, respected, and taught work of fiction. The essays in this volume examine the thematic, stylistic, and critical elements of Bellow's masterpiece and offer different approaches to how the novel may or may not be thought of as "ethnic."
Imagining Language in America: From the Revolution to the Civil War.  "Intelligent and subtle literary criticism: it reads the language of the writing it looks at, rather than merely mining the text for ideas.... The best sort of modern interdisciplinary work." Chistopher Looby, UCLA.

Prof. Kramer's home page and full publication list.

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Inventing the Gothic Corpse: The Thrill of Human Remains in the Eighteenth-Century Novel. From the early fiction of Aphra Behn and Daniel Defoe to the Gothic heyday of Ann Radcliffe and Matthew Lewis, Inventing the Gothic Corpse shows how a series of bold experiments in eighteenth-century British novels transform the dead body from an instructive icon into a thrill device that will become a fixture of mass culture.
Popular and Canonical: Literary Dialogues.  Edited with Omri Herzog and Tamar S. Hess.  This collection (in Hebrew) examines both the fruitful exchanges and the antagonistic conflicts that occur between the literary canon and popular literature. The eighteen essays included in the book consider the dialogue between "high" and "low" in a wide range of historical periods and national contexts.
British Women Writers.  A special issue of Partial Answers: Journal of Literature and the History of Ideas, co-edited with Miranda M. Yaggi.  The essays in this issue, which span nearly two centuries of women’s writing, all share an interest in the conversant acts performed along and across margins — be they the boundaries that separate genres, the borders that define and contain the nation, or the internal fault lines of a stratified society.

Dr. Shapira's home page and full publication list.

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Family Resemblance: An Anthology and Exploration of 8 Hybrid Literary Genres, Edited By Marcela Sulak and Jacqueline Kolosov.  When we talk about hybrid literary genres, what do we mean? Unprecedented in both its scope and approach, this seminal collection sparkles with inventiveness and creative zeal—an essential guidebook to a developing field. Winner of the 2015 INDIEFAB Gold Medal for Adult Nonfiction. 
Mouth full of seeds cover Mouth Full of Seeds Marcela Sulak writes a hybrid psalm to living, translating traumas and joys, the capaciousness of passion, and the stunning moments that take away the breath. From a divorce document folded into the shape of bird wings to an exposition on light, from Czech fairy tales to the cells in our bodies, she prisms the “cleanliness of laundry” and the “inherent bloodiness and destruction of love.” In a fairy tale, Mouth Full of Seeds would become a “God box,” an invention of Sulak’s daughter, who decrees: “whatever you put inside of it becomes part of God.”—Amy Newman
Decency, There is delight all through this collection—Gertrude Stein’s violent delightfulness. This poet strews coins, corn, meteor showers, and slender men in bright shirts. She also thinks through the most brutal things we do to each other. As lovers. As nations. As humans. Sulak’s gold isn’t adornment. It is Marianne Moore’s “unfalsifying sun.”.
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Bouquet of National Tales, by K.J. Erben, trans from the Czech with a new introduction. In thirteen ballads, from one of the foundational Czech literary masterpieces that inspired such artists as Dvorak, supernatural forces interact with peasants and kinds, graves open, the dead walk the earth, the animate become inanimate, ogres and monsters roam lake and wood.
  Twenty Girls to Envy Me: Selected Poems of Orit Gidali. Translated by Marcela Sulak. In this English-Hebrew bilingual volume by Israeli poet Orit Gidali, domestic dramas become the stage on which the region’s political impasses play out in individual lives,

Bela-Wenda: Poems from the Heart of Africa, by Mutombo Nkulu N'Sengha, translated from the French.  A playful, ironic and tender musical journey into the human condition in the age of globalization, set in a nameless Congolese village and narrated by a diverse cast of characters: an aged grandmother, the Chief's son, young immigrants and others.
Immigrant.  Poems. "Marcela Sulak has done something very strange and wonderful. She has given us a kind of history of humanity, or a history made human, as told through fruits and vegetables, often in sonnet form, though the ghazal, the haiku and the tanka sprout in this garden as well" (Tony Barnstone).
Of All the Things That Don't Exist, I Love You Best.  "These poems move from Caracas to the Czech Republic to France, from an imagined Portugal in the 1600s to an imagined Spain at war in 1936... Surrounded by so much, by all the objects of the world, Sulak hauntingly concludes...'your emptiness belongs/only to you and no one placed it there.'" Kim Roberts (Beltway Poetry Quarterly)
May, by Karel Hynek Macha, intro. and trans. from the Czech. Mácha (1810-1836) was the greatest Czech Romantic poet, and the most influential of any writer in Czech. May, his masterpiece, is a tale of seduction, revenge, and patricide. A paean to nature, the beauty of its music and its innovative use of language has ensured the poem's lasting popularity. 

Dr. Sulak's home page and full publication list.

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Past Faculty 


Make Yourself a Teacher: Rabbinic Tales of Mentors and Disciples.  A teaching book and a book about teaching. It discusses three Talmudic stories about the student and teacher Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus. The stories serve as teaching texts and models for reflection on the teacher/student relationship in Jewish tradition and contemporary culture ....
Torah of the Mothers.  Edited with Ora Wiskind Elper.
Essays by contemporary Jewish women Torah scholars on Bible, Talmud, Midrash and Chassidism. Along with their own expertise and novel insights, they reflect on those who inspired them, e.g., R. Joseph B. Solevechik, R. Menachem Schneerson, and Nechama Lebovitz.
Wisdom From all my Teachers: Challenges and Initiatives in Contemporary Torah Education.  Edited with Rabbi Jeffrey Sacks.  This book reflects on the reactions of Torah leaders to the pressing issues facing Jewish education today. It is both adroit and informative and touches both educators and parents alike.
Fragments of Redemption: Jewish Thought and Literary Theory in Benjamin, Scholem, and Levinas.   Analyzes the work of three 20th century thinkers who synthesized ideas from European and Jewish thought in different ways: a critic and philosopher; an academic historian of Jewish mysticism; and a philosopher in the continental tradition.
The Slayers of Moses: The Emergence of Rabbinic Interpretation in Modern Literary Theory.  This pioneering critical study compares and contrasts rabbinic interpretation of Jewish texts with contemporary literary theory, focusing on the differences between Jewish and Christian exegesis.

Prof. Handelman's home page and full publication list.

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Two for the Devil.  "Madness, absurdity, paralysis, state torture, political evil, distorted and grotesque sexuality, judgment, omens, portents, Jewish suffering, redemption, mysticism and ultimately sexual and sacred transcendence are all brilliantly and economically engaged in ... Allen Hoffman's stunning and unhinging novel." (Jonathan Wilson, NY Times)
Big League Dreams.  A luminous novel about the ambitious loves and unbounded dreams of the Polish Jewish villagers of Krimsk, now thriving in America. In the summer of 1920 in St. Louis, Matti Sternweiss, once the ungainly wonder child of Krimsk, now catcher for the St. Louis Browns, schemes to fix Saturday's game ....
Small Worlds.  "Hoffman's oddly haunting novel ... vividly chronicles the extraordinary daily lives of the citizens of Krimsk -- including a rebbe and a peasant, a heretical Talmudist, an idiot child and a witch ... reveals much about the tension between human desire and belief, about the complexities of conscience and commitment."  (NY Times) 
Kagan's Superfecta and Other Stories.  The stories in this collection are deeply felt explorations in to the Jewish mind and world--stories in the tradition of Isacc Bashevis Singer. At the same time, illuminated by compassion and humor, they transcend cultural boundaries and provide fascinating studies in the universal human experience.

Allen Hoffman's home page and full publication list.

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Reading the Underthought: Jewish Hermeneutics and the Christian Poetry of Hopkins and Eliot.  With Rachel Salmon Deshen.  What happens when readers from one tradition can approach the poetry of another?  In this book, two readers schooled in Jewish hermeneutic practices offer new insight into the interpretation and appreciation of mainstream Christian religious poetry.

Professor Meyer's home page and full publication list.

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Common Knowledge (Duke University Press).  Founded by Jeffrey Perl in 1992, CK “is the leading intellectual journal—the widest ranging, the richest in content, at once the most balanced and provocative forum for general ideas—of our time” (Sacvan Bercovitch, Harvard).   Read the TLS review..
"CK bravely shows how intellectuals fixate on questions about truth and justice--divisive issues--in order to evade questions about peace. The journal demonstrates that 'the assumption that strife is productive is a prejudice,' then leads us toward a methodology superior to the martial arts of polemic" (Caryl Emerson, Princeton).
Peace and Mind: Civilian Scholarship from Common Knowledge.  Addressed to veterans of the “culture wars” and their students, “Peace and Mind dares to analyze belligerence as a syndrome and to put our ongoing crises, our declinologistic tendencies, and our religious clashes on the irenic couch of scholarship” (Julia Kristeva, Paris VII). 
Literary Modernism: The Struggle for Modern History.  When The Teaching Company was established twenty years ago by Senator Edward Kennedy's chief of staff, nine professors were selected as the "best college teachers in America" and their most popular undergraduate courses were recorded for posterity.  These lectures constitute Jeffrey Perl's Columbia University course on modernist literature.  
Skepticism and Modern Enmity: Before and After Eliot  (Johns Hopkins). A quarter-century before T.S. Eliot’s collected prose began to see print, this book was the only source of quotations from and analysis of Eliot’s unpublished philosophical notebooks. With this study, “Perl has emerged as a major analyst and chronicler of Western culture” (Southern Review).
The Tradition of Return: The Implicit History of Modern Literature (Princeton).  This book—“as good an attempt as I know to make an imaginative coherence out of modernism” (Hugh Kenner)—enriches our understanding of the backward direction that literary culture has  taken since the Renaissance.  

Professor Perl's home page and full publication list.

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The Comic Mode in English Literature.  An introductory guide to comedy in English literature that systematically applies comic theory to a wide range of texts from Chaucer to Bridget Jones's Diary.  Choice’s annual review rated it as an “Outstanding Academic Title of 2012.”
Tradition and Subversion in Renaissance Literature: Studies in Shakespeare, Spenser, Jonson, and Donne.  Against Deconstructionist critics, this book offers detailed and essentially new analyses, arguing that the seemingly contradictory presence of traditional and subversive elements in their major works actually creates the source of much of their literary achievement.
Graham Greene's Narrative Strategies: A Study of the Major Novels.  Greene deliberately misled biographers and interviewers, so Roston focuses upon the texts themselves and their manipulation of reader response, highlighting the innovative strategies that Greene developed to cope with the mid-century invalidation of the traditional hero and the potential hostility of readers to his advocacy of Catholicism
The Search For Selfhood in Modern Literature. The scientific achievements of the modern world failed to impress the leading writers of this century, leaving them instead profoundly disturbed by a sense of lost values and of the insignificance of the individual in a universe seemingly indifferent to human concerns.
Modernist Patterns.  Even when there is no direct contact, artists and writers develop many comparable techniques for coping with problems specific to their time. This book explores the relationships between modernist artists and writers and their responses to the immediate challenges of their time.
Changing Perspectives in Literature & the Visual Arts 1650-1820  The central argument of this treatise is that for each generation there exist inherited ideas and contemporary concerns to which each creative artist and writer responds. This volume relates English writers and artists of the period to developments in visual arts.

Victorian Contexts: Literature and the Visual Arts. Imaginative and refreshing essays on the similarities and shared themes of the literature, painting, architecture, and crafts of the nineteenth century.


Renaissance Perspectives on Literature and the Visual Arts.  "Sweeping broadly through two centuries of art and literature, Roston has clarified and reified distinctions, comparisons, and theories in useful ways, and has produced what I believe will be one of the basic books in its field." --Roland Mushat Frye, Pennsylvania

Sixteenth-Century English Literature.   A volume in the Macmillan History of Literature.

Milton and the Baroque.  Offers an innovative interpretation of Milton’s Satan,  as well as of other aspects of the epic, by placing Paradise Lost in the context of the European baroque.     Described in The Times Literary Supplement. as   “…a study which itself partakes of the power and brilliance of its subject” 

The Soul of Wit: A Study of John Donne.  Relates Donne’s poetry to Mannerist art.

Biblical Drama in England.  Traces, from the medieval to the modern period, how the adoption of biblical themes in British drama was dictated by the cultural changes of the time.

Prophet and Poet: The Bible and the Growth of Romanticism.  Examines how the eighteenth-century discovery of biblical parallelism created  the new concept of the poet as inspired bard.

Professor Roston's home page and full publication list.


Scripturally Enslaved: Bible Politics, Slavery, and the American Renaissance.  By examining the intersections of the discourses of religion and race, the book complicates the study of both religious experience and cultural engagement in the texts of the American Renaissance and extends the argument for the centrality of the slavery experience in all American texts of the period.

Shaindy Rudoff's memorial page (under construction)..

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Word vs. Image: Cognitive Hunger in Shakespeare's England.  A cognitive study of the Reformation struggle between word and image arguing that Shakespeare contributed to the restoration of cultural sanity by adapting the Italian grotesque style to English needs.
Iconotropism: Turning Toward Pictures.  The essays in this collection are meant to recognize our human embodied need for pictures, exemplifying the ways in which that need is met. Edited with a polemical introduction.
Satisfying Skepticism.  A study of early modern skepticism in art and literature from a culture, historical, and cognitive point of view.
Gaps in Nature: Literary Interpretation and the Modular Mind.  Literary interpretation is discussed in terms of current cognitive theories of understanding.
Summoning: Ideas of the Covenant and Interpretive Theory.
The Uses of Adversity: Failure and Accommodation in Reader Response.
The Bounds of Interpretation: Linguistic Theory and Literary Text.  With Ellen Schauber 



Return From Elsewhere Co-winner of the competition for the 2014 Outriders Poetry Selection, the volume contains over fifty short poems ranging, in the words of critic Gabriel Levin, through "seemingly irreconcilable polarities: faith and betrayal, confession, secrecy, risk and failure [as well as] desire--licit and illicit."  “Zisquit's most brilliant book yet."—Alicia Ostriker 
Havoc: New and Selected Poems.  “Linda Zisquit is a lyric poet, a warrior fully armed with a phalanx of traditional, high-minded beliefs. Still, it is her demons that her poetry best serves. Often, she joins the battalions she fights against and sings.” --Stanley Moss
Ghazal-Mazal.  "Disciplined in form, elegant in utterance, fearless in self-scrutiny, this is a book of profound--can I say noble?--beauty.  These poems … shoot directly through the mind into the soul, vibrating there like arrows that have just hit their mark." --Alicia Ostriker
These Mountains: Selected Poems of Rivka Miriam. "In language characterized by an appealing simplicity, so effectively translated from the Hebrew by Linda Zisquit, Rivka Miriam shares with her readers a variety of moving responses to a lifetime of experiences which have spanned virtually the entire history of the State of Israel."  --David Jacobson,
Let the Words: Selected Poems by Yona Wallach "Wallach's sexually voracious, semantically scrambled poetry burst like a dangerous phoenix onto the Israeli poetry scene .... Zisquit finds an effective ... panoply of English-language equivalents for her mix of compression, blasphemy and eroticim ... a heretofore-unthinkable hybrid of Sexton and Celan."  --Publisher's Weekly
The Face in the Window.  The “poetry speaks from the veritable heart of the most complex of relationships, those with one’s mother and father. As ever her articulate poems manage a remarkable and deceptively simple clarity. They speak of things almost impossible to say, yet do so with directness and generosity.... a moving and altogether remarkable book.” --Robert Creeley
Wild Light by Yona Wallach.  "Zisquit’s translations … give the English reader a glimpse into the extraordinary achievement of both poets and at the same time, attest to the struggle of the English language to accommodate itself to such unyielding terrain.  {With] an introduction which contextualizes both the poetry and her own encounter with it."  --Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi
Unopened Letters.  "The poems read like intriguing fragments that have floated up from myth, daily like and the unconscious.  Consistently adopting a tone that is more exploratory than confessional, Zisquit is serious about situating the personal in the wealth of the wider world."  --Publisher's Weekly
Ritual Bath.  “The ease and directness of these poems make an unexpected testament of singularly complex feeling. Linda Zisquit’s work is uniquely present, yet timeless. Its clarity has no equal”  (Robert Creeley).  “Exact and delicate and strong, like lace. Soft and sensuous and yet powerful as a machine” (Yehuda Amichai).

Prof. Zisquit's's home page and full publication list.

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