Swimming in the Rain: New and Selected Poems 1980-2015
by Chana Bloch
Autumn House Press, 2015
A child of immigrant parents who was raised in an observant Jewish household, poet Chana Bloch has absorbed the details of her ethnic and linguistic heritage; this includes what she has called “the habit of questioning,” which is “not only sanctioned by Jewish tradition, it’s an honored part of it.” As a poet, biblical scholar, and translator of ancient and modern Hebrew poetry, she has followed her teacher Robert Lowell’s advice to “learn to write from [her] own translations.”
Swimming in the Rain: New and Selected Poems demonstrates that Bloch has converted that important lesson into a unique poetic voice that modulates from the homespun to the literary and shifts from wit and humor to a pull-no-punches toughness. Spare and musical, intimate while open to history, intelligent and emotionally rich in the details of divisions and connections, Bloch’s poetry negotiates the complexities of her identity as a first-generation Jew, a woman, a child, a parent, a wife, a lover, and a citizen.