Yermiyahu Ahron Taub’s new collection of poems is rich with intimacy and longing, culled from the dual influences of both contemporary gay culture and timeless Jewish tradition. The speakers in Taub’s poems find themselves squarely displaced between these two extremes, between the obligation to duty and the surrender to pleasure, the lightness of daily foibles and the darkness of long-held secrets and shame. The poems—bold, unfettered—are draped around the reader like “a necklace of whispers”—as objects both of beauty and of restraint. Taub is a poet in whose hands I feel moved and informed, comforted and implored.
Author of The First Risk
This book is a dazzler for any of us who live between cultures and find it hard to negotiate between absolute identities. In poems more urgent than well-mannered, Taub cuts to the bone again and again, making lyrical incisions through history, memory and myth in a spirit of comic melancholy and lament. “Rosa, Rosa, how did it come to this?” he asks, as if speaking for all of us who have emerged from the last century complicated, thinking and feeling too much. Here is a mind embodied enough to imagine the resiliency of “a foreskin … spontaneously sprouted!”
—Julia Spicher Kasdorf
Author of The Body and the Book:
Writing from a Mennonite Life
Uncle Feygele is a funny, insightful, and amazingly humane collection of poems. While the poems cleverly connect the seemingly disparate identities of being openly queer and an Orthodox Jew, they also manage something much bigger—illuminating the tiny struggles and tricks of memory that are a part of all human experience.
—T. Cole Rachel
Author of Surviving the Moment of Impact
Who is this Uncle Feygele, this little bird, who moves and loves though the ages? Yermiyahu Ahron Taub has created a voice of longing in a persona embodying the female, male and child caught being both outsider and insider—a gay Orthodox Jew. He is a man in a community of faith, family, place and history. Taub writes in a lyrical language strikingly sensual, rolling in long lines that seem to wash over the edge of the page and splash in limpid beauty crossing all borders civilization places on human interaction. Feygele, a derogatory term for Jewish homosexual, becomes a persona incorporating all the same wishes, fears, and history as “straights.” We are the same—gay, lesbian, straight, bi or trans—all deserving respect not oppression.
Author of Dear Suzanne and Outcasts
In Yermiyahu Ahron Taub, Queer Yiddishland has finally found its poet laureate. Weaving together the rich languages of diaspora Jewish longings, Uncle Feygele revisits the worlds of revolution, religion, and Eros, finding their resonance in a contemporary world in which such impulses lie buried just beneath the surface. The model for Taub’s poetry is not the Oedipal struggle of Harold Bloom’s “strong poets” against their father-precursors, but rather the radical recovery of the forgotten uncles at the Jewish table, who find their multilingual voices through the poetic-historical queer imagination of Taub, their playful, irreverent “nephew.”
Author of Faithful Renderings: Jewish-Christian
Difference and the Politics of Translation
Switching back and forth from English to Yiddish, Yermiyahu Ahron Taub’s poetry is at once socially engaged and sexy. The collection as a whole, which includes poems in honor of the social democrat Rosa Luxemburg and the Hebrew poet Rahel, and the “unnamed and unremembered,” is beautifully crafted. His poems on men … sizzling.
Author of Through Soviet Jewish Eyes:
Photography, War, and the Holocaust