by Alicia Ostriker

Winner of this year’s Charlotte Newberger Poetry Prize

This was an amazing year. There were so many excellent poems, of so many different sorts. The winner I have chosen is “The Fifteenth of Av.” In Israel, the Fifteenth of Av has become a sort of Valentine’s day. This rich poem crosses so many boundaries in its capturing what this Jewish holy day might mean to a woman in our time. Is it a secular poem, is it a religious poem? It is really both. It shows how an ordinary surface life can be deepened by letting Jewish meanings in — Judaism of present and past, earth and heaven, nature and spirituality, war and peace, girlhood and womanhood speak to each other in this poem. The voice of the Lord and the voice of the Shekhinah are both made real. This is a woman’s poem celebrating life — two good hands in the good dirt of it.

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Winner of this year’s Charlotte Newberger Poetry Prize

The articles in this special section:

The Fifteenth of Av

poetry by Jane Seitel

I Sing the Shekinah’s Praise

poetry by Joanne Seltzer

From My Kitchen Window

poetry by Rochelle Mass

Questions for the Feast of Weeks

poetry by Marnie Heyn

Eve to the Serpent

poetry by Ruth Kessler

‘As it is Said’

poetry by Bonnie Maurer

Elegy to Uncle Jack