Cover image for The art of blessing the day : poems with a Jewish theme
The art of blessing the day : poems with a Jewish theme
Piercy, Marge.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 1999.
Physical Description:
x, 175 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3566.I4 A89 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



About Marge Piercy's collection of her old and new poems that celebrate
the Jewish experience, the poet Lyn Lifshin writes:
The Art of Blessing the Day is an exquisite book. The whole collection is strong, passionate, and poignant, but the mother and daughter poems, fierce and emotional, with their intense ambivalence, pain and joy, themes of separation and reconnecting, are among the very strongest about that difficult relationship.
These striking, original, beautifully sensuous poems do just that. Ordinary moments-- a sunset, a walk, a private religious ritual--are so alive in poems like 'Shabbat moment' and 'Rosh Hodesh.' In the same way that she celebrates ordinary moments, small things become charged with memories and feelings: paper snowflakes, buttons, one bird, a bottle-cap flower made from a ginger ale top and crystal beads. She celebrates the body in rollicking, gusto-filled poems like 'Belly good' and 'The chuppah, ' where 'our bodies open their portals wide.' So much that is richly sensuous: 'hands that caressed you, . . . untied the knot of pleasure and loosened your flesh till it fluttered, ' and lush praise for 'life in our spines, our throats, our knees, our genitals, our brains, our tongues.'
I love the humor in poems like 'Eat fruit, ' the nostalgia and joy in 'The rabbi's granddaughter and the Christmas tree, ' the fresh, beautiful images of nature-- 'In winter . . .the sun hangs its wizened rosehip in the oaks.'
I admire Piercy's sense of the past alive in the present, in personal and social history. The poems are memorials, like the yahrtzeit candle in a glass. 'We lose and we go on losing, ' but the poems are never far from harsh joy, the joythat is 'the wine of life.'
Growing up haunted by Holocaust ghosts is an echo throughout the book, and some of the strongest poems are about the Holocaust, poems that become the voices of those who had no voice: 'What you carry in your blood is us, the books we did not write, music we could not make, a world gone from gristle to smoke, only as real now as words can make it.'
Marge Piercy's words make such a moving variety of experiences beautifully and forcefully real.

Author Notes

Poet and novelist Marge Piercy was born in Detroit, Michigan on March 31, 1936. She received a B. A. from the University of Michigan and an M. A. from Northwestern. She is involved in the Jewish renewal and political work and was part of the civil rights movement. She won the Arthur C. Clarke award. Besides writing her own novels and collections of poetry, she has collaborated with her husband Ira Wood on a play, The Last White Class, and a novel, Storm Tide. In 1997, they founded a small literary publishing company called the Leapfrog Press. She currently lives in Cape Cod.

(Bowker Author Biography) Marge Piercy is the author of 14 previous poetry collections and 14 novels. In 1990 her poetry won the Golden Rose, the oldest poetry award in the country. She lives on Cape Cod.

(Publisher Provided) Marge Piercy is the author of 35 books of poetry & fiction, including the best sellers "Gone to Soldiers" & "The Longings of Women".

(Publisher Provided)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Piercy is a poet of womanhood and compassion, conscience and spirit, and her poems are as magnetic as mirrors: no one can resist them, and all, at least every woman, will catch a glimpse of themselves in their warm and dancing light. In The Art of Blessing the Day, Piercy has assembled new and selected poems that reflect Jewish life as she has known it, both in the bosom of her family and out in a world hostile to the tradition. Piercy writes both of an inherited sense of Jewishness and of a faith she has come to live within, bringing to it her passions for language and justice. Piercy portrays her grandmother and her mother, her father and her uncle, using, in one poem, buttons in a tin as mnemonic devices to call up visions of the past. She dwells often on the blessings of food and of contact with people, pets, and the wilder world outdoors. Every thought and metaphor is fluid with life and sensuality yet contained by good sense and humor. These are the work of a practiced poet, but it is obvious from the bright, saucy, and shrewd early poems collected in Early Grrrl that Piercy's gift, like her Jewishness, is the fruit of both nature and nurture. Piercy has dedicated this collection of long-out-of-print and never-before-published works to the women of the vibrant Grrrl movement--a feisty form of feminist expression found in zines and music and on the Web--because Piercy had been Grrrl long before Grrrl got its name. --Donna Seaman

Library Journal Review

We tend to think of writers according to categoriesÄnovelist, poet, essayistÄand find it hard to imagine a writer who excels in more than one medium. But Piercy has written many wonderful novels (e.g., Braided Lives, LJ 1/82; Vida, LJ 1/80) and an equal number of deeply moving and exquisitely crafted books of poetry (e.g., What Are Big Girls Made Of? LJ 2/1/97). Her newest volume of poetry is in many ways the best yet. It brings together poems written to celebrate Piercy's Jewishness, reflecting and expressing the joy, pain, passion, and elegance of this rich culture. Her poems overflow with family, ritual, tradition, history, and food. In the amazing "The Ark of Consequence," Piercy plays with the meanings of "ark" and "arc," calling us to recognize the interconnectedness of all that we do and are and understand that our actions have consequences: "What we shoot up into orbit falls/ to earth one night through the roof." A group of Shabbat poems and a section on seder foods fervently capture the intensity and flavor of the Jewish tradition. Highly recommended for all libraries.ÄJudy Clarence, California State Univ. Lib., Hayward (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



"Growing Up Haunted" When I enter through the hatch of memory those claustrophobic chambers, my adolescence in the booming fifties of General Eisenhower, General Foods and General Motors, I see our dreams: obsolescent mannequins in Dior frocks armored, prefabricated bodies; and I see our nightmares, powerful as a wine red sky and wall of fire. Fear was the underside of every leaf we turned, the knowledge that our cousins, our other selves, had been starved and butchered to ghosts. The question every smoggy morning presented like a covered dish: why are you living and all those mirror selves, sisters, gone into smoke like stolen cigarettes? I remember my grandmother's cry when she learned the death of all she remembered, girls she bathed with, young men with whom she shyly flirted, wooden shul where her father rocked and prayed, red haired aunt plucking the balalaika, world of sun and snow turned to shadows on a yellow page. Assume no future you may not have to fight for, to die for, muttered ghosts gathered on the foot of my bed each night. What you carry in your blood is us, the books we did not write, music we could not make, a world gone from gristle to smoke, only as real now as words can make it. Excerpted from The Art of Blessing the Day: Poems with a Jewish Theme by Marge Piercy All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.