Yermiyahu Ahron Taub’s poems draw his reader into an extended, elliptical conversation—confessional, yet enigmatic—with an array of vibrantly imagined selves and carefully scrutinized others. In The Insatiable Psalm, poetry becomes the meeting ground, the point of encounter, if not reconciliation, for disparate sensibilities: Yiddish, American, immigrant, pious, aesthetic, queer. Taub’s negotiation of these is moving and intelligent, infused with surprises.
—Jeffrey Shandler, Rutgers University,
editor of Awakening Lives: Autobiographies
of Jewish Youth in Poland before the Holocaust
The Insatiable Psalm is a beautiful portrayal of movement between two worlds of cultural reference. Yermiyahu Ahron Taub writes freshly and vividly about family, Jewish immigrant experience, and adult awakening without the distortion of idealizing the subjects of the poems and their multidimensional, and all-too-human, motivations. There is a sensuality and earthiness to the writing that is startling in its universality and draws the reader toward the questions that frame the poems: what does it mean to know and what does it mean to tell?
—Susana H. Case,
author of The Scottish Café and Anthropologist in Ohio
Yermiyahu Ahron Taub is the queer child turned prophet, a modern day psalmist for those displaced from home communities everywhere. In language of tremendously lyrical power, these risky, essential poems capture the ambivalences of a mother’s devotion to her faith and family. With The Insatiable Psalm, Taub has gathered the cast stones to form the cornerstone of a sacred space of love and longing.
author and editor of Speak My Name: Black Men on Masculinity and the American Dream
These stylish dramatic monologues convey the experiences of a bar mitzvah boy “late to prayer,” his refugee relatives, and his Orthodox family of modest means. The scenes shift from masturbation before synagogue services to the generation gap in musical taste (Moishe Oysher vs. Aretha Franklin) to a dialectic of chocolate chip cookies. One poem, “preparing to dance,” appears in both English and the poet’s own graceful Yiddish translation. The two languages capture the bicultural struggle of the Orthodox woman at her mirror and the little boy who watches her, and, indeed, of the whole book. Taub’s elegant poems play off art and artifice against forceful passions and raw stories. The resulting tension intrigues me.
translator of Paper Bridges: Selected Poems of Kadya Molodowsky and co-editor of Jewish American Literature: a Norton Anthology
This work is lavish in its descriptive depth, purity of conscience, and scrutiny of a way of life and a heritage that is sacred to many and yet ultimately fragile. The fragility that emanates from these poems has to do with the various characters and voices as they speak of the experiences of living within a tradition that has had to survive in a world that does not hold sacred its values. Equally moving is the exploration of the fragile natures of the children who inherit a culture that does not always fit into the emotional world in which they feel and live.
—Night Skye M.a.g.a.z.i.n.e: Journal of the
The Insatiable Psalm is coherent in tone, steeped in imagery, surprising with its language, and, I suspect, says as much about Judaism as it does about life. It evokes a flickering candle, illuminating both the secular and the religious.
—Tom Dooley, editor, Eclectica Magazine
The Insatiable Psalm is a cinematic archway onto a closed Jewish world. Not since reading Jay Frankston’s book, Yom Hashoah: Remembering the Holocaust, have I found a book so moving. It is one thing to appreciate the culture into which you were born; it is quite another to document it in not only such loving detail, but to educate and enlighten at the same time. Yermiyahu Ahron Taub writes with a voice that is a blessing in any ear.
—Muse Apprentice Guild