Velveteen Rabbi Press, 2015
The lunar month of Elul (leading up to the Days of Awe / Jewish high holidays) is a time for self-examination, contemplation, and the inner work of teshuvah, repentance or return. Here are 29 poems, one for each day of Elul, which aim to open the reader up to awe, reflection, and the spiritual experience of being truly seen.
Print edition: $10 on Amazon | £6.25 on Amazon.co.uk | €7.98 on Amazon Europe
E-book edition: $6 on Amazon | £4.07 on Amazon.co.uk | €5.72 on Amazon Europe
(And if you buy the print edition, you can add the digital edition for 99 cents.)
Praise for See Me: Elul Poems
“This book is a gem. Not just inspiring poetry, but the messages of hope, forgiveness, family are embedded in every poem. Rabbi Rachel’s language is informal, and you feel like the poems are being read to you in your living room, or sitting outside in your favorite back yard places. She make us want to do the inner work of Elul, going deeply into ourselves to better our lives. And the poems do that without being preachy or teach – rather the images and metaphors just shine inside your heart and soul as your read them. Like mirrors the poems illuminate the reader him/herself.” — Rabbi David Zaslow, author of Jesus: First-Century Rabbi
Collection of miscarriage poems, 2009
Free download, or available from Lulu at cost
Read more in this blog post
I had a miscarriage. Every pregnant woman knows it is possible, but I doubt anyone feels prepared when it happens. / I was amazed by how many women came up to me, as word quietly spread, and said that the same thing had happened to them. Having tangible proof that I was not alone — that this was survivable — helped me through. / Writing offered me a way to externalize the roil of emotions. I wrote my way through the experience, and then as I felt ready I began to revise the drafts. To take the raw outpourings of my heart and turn them into poetry.
“This can’t have been an easy experience to write anything about at all, let alone to distill into ten brief, searing, and luminous poems. As with Rachel’s earlier chaplainbook, these are accessible poems with several different layers of meaning, so I think almost anyone who’s ever gone through a miscarriage will get something out of it. Which is not to say the audience should end there: miscarriage is a subject every bit as relevant and revealing of the human condition as warfare, for example. So why doesn’t it get more attention from writers and artists?”
— Dave Bonta, at Via Negativa
“The Velveteen Rabbi, Rachel Barenblat, has written a collection of poems about miscarriage — based on her own — and offers Through to any reader who wants or needs them. As Dave Bonta points out, miscarriage is not a widely discussed topic, certainly not by men too often, but not even by women. Find comfort and companionship in shared grief and experience. For yourself, or someone you know.”
— Deb Scott, at ReadWritePoem
Laupe House Press, 2006
$9.98; buy a copy here.
Hospital chaplaincy work highlights the central commonalities of sickness, fear, grief, and loss…but also opens the possibility of a sanctified encounter with the sacred. These poems dance and wrestle with the difficult realities of embodied existence, seeking blessing.
“Rachel Barenblat’s chaplainbook is work by one who is a poet first and foremost. Barenblat knows how to make a poem, and it is incidental that she has shaped these poems out of her hospital experience. Indeed, she has made seventeen strong poems for this collection. She recognizes that whatever the ‘obvious’ subject, a poem is always about the poetry of our existence, that ineffable lifting up that occurs when we are most fully human.”
— Tom Montague at The Middlewesterner
“The work has breath in it. Reading it at night, alone, in total silence, I can feel the capacity of my heart increasing. I think of the first time Adam laughed and wondered what that strange sensation was. I think of the way fluorescent lights gleam on polished hospital floors.”
Bennington Writing Seminars
Alumni Chapbook Series, 2002
$8; order a copy via e-mail.
My mother thinks its goyische
bringing flowers to a gravesite, but
she can’t resist the tin shed
on the Austin highway. Three dollars
and one yellow rose later
she’s back in her car
wheeling around the left turn
punching numbers on her cell phone,
waiting for an answer…
Pecan Grove Press
San Antonio, 1995
$7; order a copy here.
These hills ripple with bare matchstick trees like dogfur standing on end, brushed against the skin… (–from the poem “I knew a dancer once”)
As the leaves come off the trees these lines from one of Rachel Barenblat’s poems make one remember how Mount Greylock and the Taconic range will look in just a few weeks. Barenblat, a Williams senior who had her first collection of poems published by Pecan Grove Press last month, feels a deep love for her adopted home in New England and its images, along with those of her native San Antonio, Texas, run throughout her work… — Gail Burns, The Advocate, October 18, 1995