70 faces / Torah poems
Phoenicia Publishing, 2011
Each of the poems in 70 Faces arose in conversation with the Five Books of Moses. These poems interrogate, explore, and lovingly respond to Torah texts — the uplifting parts alongside the passages which may challenge contemporary liberal theology. Here are responses to the familiar tales of Genesis, the liberation story of Exodus, the priestly details of Leviticus, the desert wisdom of Numbers, and the anticipation of Deuteronomy. These poems balance feminism with respect for classical traditions of interpretation. They enrich any (re)reading of the Bible, and will inspire readers to their own new responses to these familiar texts.
(This just in: “The Akedah Series” from this collection was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2011!)
“These poems are so out there, so radical, and at the same time so gentle and inviting. Barenblat manages to do work that has passion and truth behind it, without ranting. I love the simple and confident way she deals with the akedah — and I love the final poem in this collection — gliding right past heartbreak into renewal, which is what her poems all seem to do.” — Alicia Ostriker, author of For the Love of God: the Bible as an Open Book and The Book of Seventy
“In the poetry of 70 Faces, Rachel Barenblat continues the work of translation and commentary that has occupied her for years as the Velveteen Rabbi. She is as young as our century and as old as Judaism. Her poems have the classic cadence of the scriptures and the fresh wonder of a new mother. These are old words for the modern mind. This is ancient wisdom we can feel and know.” — Pastor Gordon Atkinson, author of RealLivePreacher.com and Turtles All The Way Down
“Rachel Barenblat’s Torah poems open the doorway into sacred text so that we can walk in and make it our home. She invites us to bring all of our passion, doubt, humor, humility and chutzpah as we encounter these ancient words and bring them to Life. Through Rachel’s skillful, joyful, playful and profound poetry, the Torah opens her secrets to us and invites us into an intimate conversation with Truth.” — Rabbi Shefa Gold, author of Torah Journeys
“The book is infused with smoke, milk, blood, stars, curls of lemon, saddled donkeys, sinew, rafters hung with garlic, sand, apple skins, mountains. The scenes are well-set. The layout and forms support the narratives and the pacing for reading. The questions — and there are plenty of questions — are asked with the best sensitivity one could want in midrash explorations.” — From the review in Seminary Ridge Review, issue 14:1, Autumn 2011