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The Art of Blessing the Day: Poems with a Jewish Theme Paperback – September 19, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; Reprint edition (September 19, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375704310
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375704314
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #385,615 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The Art of Blessing the Day: Poems with a Jewish Theme, by Marge Piercy, is that rare book of self-avowedly religious poetry whose devotional purpose actually enhances its poetic strength. Piercy's poems, organized in chapters with thematic headings like "Family," "Marriage," and "Prayer," are plainly presented as help for living. Readers will turn to poems such as "Putting the Good Things Away" when they need inspiration for understanding their self-sacrificing mothers. Yet Piercy's devotions are real poems with a literary integrity whose strength and beauty are free of sentimentality. They are also like liturgy, because they make room for readers to experience new aspects of contemporary life while simultaneously offering the security of very old frameworks for perceiving life. The Jewish themes of these poems are sometimes overt (as in "Chuppah"), but they are often more subtle (as in "The Art of Blessing the Day"). Throughout, they evince the careful balance of faithful attention to worldly life and the humble consideration of cosmic order that distinguishes Judaism among Western religions. "Attention is love," Piercy writes in the title poem, "what we must give / children, mothers, fathers, pets, / our friends, the news, the woes of others. / What we want to change we curse and then / pick up a tool. Bless whatever you can / with eyes and hands and tongue. If you / can't bless it, get ready to make it new." --Michael Joseph Gross --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

We tend to think of writers according to categoriesAnovelist, poet, essayistAand find it hard to imagine a writer who excels in more than one medium. But Piercy has written many wonderful novels (e.g., Braided Lives, LJ 1/82; Vida, LJ 1/80) and an equal number of deeply moving and exquisitely crafted books of poetry (e.g., What Are Big Girls Made Of? LJ 2/1/97). Her newest volume of poetry is in many ways the best yet. It brings together poems written to celebrate Piercy's Jewishness, reflecting and expressing the joy, pain, passion, and elegance of this rich culture. Her poems overflow with family, ritual, tradition, history, and food. In the amazing "The Ark of Consequence," Piercy plays with the meanings of "ark" and "arc," calling us to recognize the interconnectedness of all that we do and are and understand that our actions have consequences: "What we shoot up into orbit falls/ to earth one night through the roof." A group of Shabbat poems and a section on seder foods fervently capture the intensity and flavor of the Jewish tradition. Highly recommended for all libraries.AJudy Clarence, California State Univ. Lib., Hayward
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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It is a book that may be turned to repeatedly and thought about over time.
Robin Friedman
Although she is very famous, I never heard of the author Marge Piercy before I heard some of her poems from this book.
Trudy S Goldstein
In The Art of Blessing the Day, the poet opens her soul to her readers as she also at times amuses us.
Carolyn R. Swift

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Ruth Daigon on April 14, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I've just finished reading "The Art Of Blessing The Day" for the third time, and every time I read it, I discover something new. There is so much depth and so many levels of meaning that each reading seems like the first for me. It's such a rich, marvelous collection that it's almost impossible to convey how much it affected me. She composed it like a piece of music. Each section has its theme, and moves from poem to poem with so much variation and skill. There's a gorgeous rhythm to her work and the harmonies are equally beautiful. Her voice is like an instrument creating vocative music...elegiac...celebratory...even though pain surfaces from time to time. It's okay! It belongs! She has awakened in me so many memories, and in reliving them through her art, I arrive at new insights, new understandings. The poem about her mother refusing to wear her gifts really struck a chord. When my mother died, I returned home and together with my sisters went through all her stuff systematically, and we simply wept when we saw every gift we had ever given her over the years was wrapped in tissue paper and had never been worn. We could almost hear her voice saying "Es eez tzu goot far mihr" "It's too good for me. I am unworthy". That is a terrible weapon wielded by our mothers.You can't give them anything...but that's an old story and she tells it so well. To return to the music in Piercy's poetry: she begins with a fanfare "The Art of Blessing...."and I know what's coming but she continues to astonish me with the variety of rhythms, the way one poem flows subtly and skillfully into the next.Read more ›
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By August747@aol.com on August 31, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Since there are already some long reviews of this book, I will just make one specific comment. On reading about the book, a person could get the idea that these are poems for Jews & Jews alone. The publisher leads one to think that. However, even though the poems are thoroughly Jewish, they can be enjoyed by people of any religious background, including athiests such as myself. Marge Piercy transends the genre her publisher tries to confine her in, being a brilliant poet of incredible depth & talent.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
Among the many blessings to be found in American literature and poetry are the works of American-Jewish writers. Jewish-American poets have been celebrated in two recent anthologies: Telling and Remembring edited by Rubin and Jewish-American Poetry edited by Barron and Sellinger. Ever since Emma Lazarus, writing in the late 19th Century, the poetry written by American Jewish women have played a large part in this literature.
Marge Piercy may well be the best of the Jewish-American poets writing today. Her work is featured prominently in both the Rubin and the Barron and Sellinger anthologies with the latter collection including an essay as well. Both anthologies draw heavily from Ms. Piercy's "The Art of Blessing the Day" which prompted me to explore the entire volume.
The book as written, the dedication states, "for all who may find here poems that speak to their identity, their history, their desire for ritual -- ritual that may work for them". The collection is, indeed, specifically Jewish but its themes transcend any particular religious commitment and reach out to those who seek themselves in a spiritual path. The broad theme of the book is announced in the title poem (from which I have taken the title of this review) as "to taste/each moment, the bitter, the sour, the sweet/ and the salty, and be glad for what does not hurt." Again "Bless whatever you can/with eyes and hands and tongue. If you/can't bless it, get ready to make it new."
I was struck by the unity of the collection. Unlike most books of poetry where the reader may pick and choose among poems, this collection is best read as an integral whole from beginning to end.
Read more ›
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
Marge Piercy's poems are made of the substance and stuff of life. The taste of a fresh peach, the joy of picking the first garden tomato, become sources and places of contact with the mystery of creation and the Creator! However,it takes a disciplined eye that has time to pay attention to the detail of ordinary daily events to see something eternally extraordinary. !!Piercy's has the eyes to see , the mind to imagine and the skill to tell us where, and how to look!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sokste on November 29, 2003
Format: Paperback
Marge Piercy's poems are all treasures, many people know that. Here though are particular, specific treasures that relate to her Judaism. Especially poignant and full.
Easiest though, and most precious to me, are the ones available to each of us for our own siddur of our creation. Her Nishmat is, itself alone, priceless. For instance.
Unique and invaluable!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Torah student on November 14, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love this book. I use it frequently, especially when I'm asked to say "a few words" or just to look through for a bit of contemplation in the odd moments of the day. I always come across poems that speak to my mood or the situation I'm in. Wonderful range of topics and ideas.
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