Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies
Literature and Languages
The frst thing I learned about poetry from Chana was delight—delight in the world around us, pain and all. I studied with Chana at Mills College in Oakland, California, from 1996 to 1998, in the Master of Fine Arts in English and Creative Writing Program. For a period, our work-shops met at her house in the East Bay hills; I remember her living room with ornate red decorations and dark foor- to- ceiling bookshelves. We would sit in a circle as we read and discussed poems. However, the real focus of our class was on Chana’s stories, anecdotes, and words of guid-ance. Once, when we were puzzling through the contradictory ending of poem, she explained, “It’s not a real emotion unless you feel two con-ficting things at the same time.” This is one of Chana’s teachings that has stayed with me most powerfully, because it applies equally to life and poetry. It speaks to how we bumble along messy paths. For the poem, it refects the complexity that we are trying to articulate. From Chana, I learned that poetry can be both a guide and a diviner, that through poetry we can live more vivid and more present lives.- article excerpt -
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