The predicament of Jewish American poetry

Source document: Brno studies in English. 2008, vol. 33, iss. 1, pp. [127]-132
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The identity of the Jewish American writer has been often analysed through the prism of American fiction and nonfiction (ie genres which many Americanists consider to be the umbrella terms for all of Jewish American literature). Criticism of Jewish American poetry, especially its less orthodox proponents who have entered the canon of mainstream American literature, has been quite rare. This paper aims to analyse the presence of a distinctive Jewish identity in twentieth-century American poetry in English. After a brief historical overview, the poetics of several notable twentieth-century American poets of Jewish origin will be discussed using sample poems. The paper finally claims that Jewishness is an essential presence in the poetry of twentieth-century American poets of Jewish origin even if their work betrays more eclectic influences.
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