Longing with Merle Feld: Author Engagement Series

Apr 16, 2024 6:00PM—7:30PM


Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine 1342 Congress St Portland, ME 04102

Cost $9 for in-person / free for virtual talk only

Event Contact Ilana Gilg | Email

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Join us for an in-person poetry reading with Maine Jewish poets and a virtual author talk with poet Merle Feld. Copies of Longing: Poems of a Life will be available for sale after the talk, courtesy of our friends at Longfellow Books.

What do we long for as we carry the traumas of our past and look into the future with guarded hope? In Longing: Poems of a Life, acclaimed poet Merle Feld tells her intensely personal story while naming profound human experience. Feld opens forbidden doors and long-shuttered windows, peering through the lattices of memory at moments of anguish, breaking, blessing, surviving. We accompany her through early family violence, isolation, the discovery of community and love; we witness her climb from the loss of possibility to the assertion of self-worth and purpose. Threading through the years are conversations with a mother long gone-“a slip of a girl” whose misplaced loyalty and endless capacity for loving are both cautionary tale and guidepost. Deeply Jewish yet universal, these gripping poems will stay with you.

About the Author:

Merle Feld’s journey has taken her from a too small Brooklyn apartment to the cornfields of Champaign, Illinois, onward to life as a rebbetzin amidst the Ivy’ed halls of Princeton. She facilitated ongoing dialogue on the West Bank during the first Intifada and engaged in feminist collaboration and activism with Jewish women in Ukraine. For the past 20 years, she has mentored rabbis and other seekers across thousands of miles and numerous denominations from her Western Massachusetts study via Derekh.org.

Merle’s writing life began with her iconic poem about women and men standing at Sinai and in time unfolded into three volumes of poetry – most recently Longing: poems of a life from CCAR Press. Additionally, her prose and poetry can be found in numerous anthologies and ground-breaking prayer books, including the celebrated volumes Mahzor Lev ShalemSiddur Lev Shalem and The Torah: A Woman’s Commentary. Her award-winning play, The Gates are Closing, has offered hundreds of synagogue communities and university groups from Boston to Beijing a powerful and moving introduction to the themes of the High Holidays over a span of 40 years; a 21st century reprise, Returning, explores HH themes in the midst of pandemic and quarantine.  In a third play, Across the Jordan, biblical characters share the stage with contemporary Israelis and Palestinians struggling for recognition and rapprochement. Merle has been honored by a variety of institutions and organizations, including her induction into the Brooklyn Jewish Hall of Fame, a homecoming of sorts.

Advance registration required by April 14 in order to receive the Zoom link.

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