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The Torah Garden (The Autumn House Poetry Press) Perfect Paperback – August 10, 2011

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Product Details

  • Series: The Autumn House Poetry Press
  • Perfect Paperback: 120 pages
  • Publisher: Autumn House Press (August 10, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932870512
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932870510
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,893,304 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


The speaker in this collection manages to combine the melancholy and the sensuous, to grieve and to celebrate, and to augment his old-world faith with gentle paganism. --Leslie Ullman, POETRY

Philip Terman s new poetry collection, The Torah Garden, reflects a local writer who is deeply concerned with what most of us know as well as the palms of our hands: the many struggles encountered living as Jews in America and the turbulent world in the beginning of what appears to be the very challenging 21st century.

The Torah Garden addresses, through poetry, some of the most difficult issues confronting contemporary Jews. Terman explores the tension between a heritage rich with commandments as well as proscriptions for living, and the ways in which that unique religious and cultural heritage impact who we are and how we can manage to live in this time and place.

The work is informed by the integration, in one voice, of a skilled poet thoroughly at home in the mainstream culture of America, as well as that of the thoughtful, Torah-educated Jew. Issues emerge in his ongoing attempt to blend, to integrate, to re-inform himself of his duties, his obligations, his longings. Would it surprise you to know that in these vivid pages we meet Terman s mother, his grandfather, his Uncle Hy, Moses, Kings David and Solomon, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, poets Osip Mandlestam and Robert Frost? That he finds himself at once connected and disconnected from his Judaism, from Israel? That he cares deeply and asks earnestly what G-d expects of him?

These are matters we know of. Terman s talent lies in the eloquent mirroring of ourselves the rendering of our deepest feelings about identity and purpose.

There is also a section of The Torah Garden that deals with the tragic loss of Terman s brother, Bruce. This is Part Two: To a Scientist Dying Young.

There are seven poems, beginning with The Accident, and ending with Speaking to the Woman With My Brother s Heart, that take us through the harrowing experience of premature death of a precious loved one the shock, the searing grief of separation, the limitations and blessings of memory, the anger, the Jewish ways of mourning, the yearnings for some form of immortality.

As a brother in mourning, reflecting on their shared past, Terman, an English professor at Clarion University and co-president of B nai Abraham Congregation in Butler, addresses Bruce in What We Own :

... and we own the whole country we passed through, all the way to the ocean, . . . and I remember how quiet you were, and I asked about it, and you said it s a feeling you get ...

... Oh, my brother of the other world, my brother who will perhaps greet me when I arrive at that place prepared for by our father, who is now joined by his own flesh and blood, which is not blood, which is not flesh, but bones and perhaps spirit, which we believe in, like the moon, or the unpredictable Cleveland weather, or the way the snow descends on the fallen leaves, or how the sun glazes them now, for their moment, stirred in the slight wind, the same wind that blew the Jerusalem dust in our faces, which we own.

Thank you for taking us with you, too, Philip Terman.

(Judith Robinson, who blogs about the Jewish Pittsburgh poetry scene for the Chronicle Good Poems can be reached at

Read more: The Jewish Chronicle - Questions posed through poet s eyes --Judith Robinson, The Jewish Chronicle

About the Author

Philip Terman is the author of four full-length collections of poetry including Rabbis of the Air and The Torah Garden, both published by Autumn House Press. A professor of English at Clarion State University, Terman lives with his wife Christine Hood and their two children in a renovated nineteenth century schoolhouse in Grove City, Pennsylvania.

More About the Author

Philip Terman is the author of six books of poetry: What Survives (Sow's Ear Press, 1993), The House of Sages (Mammoth Press, 1998),Greatest Hits (Pudding House Press, 2005) Book of the Unbroken Days (Mammoth Press, 2005), Rabbis of the Air (Autumn House Press, 2007), and The Torah Garden (Autumn House Press, 2011). His poems have appeared in several publications, including Poetry Magazine, The Georgia Review, The Forward, and The Sun Magazine. He has received the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Award for Poems on the Jewish Experience. He co-directs the Chautauqua Writers' Festival, is a Contributing Editor for the journal Chautauqua, and is a Professor of English at Clarion University of Pennsylvania.

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By HC on July 22, 2013
Format: Perfect Paperback
Whether you are Jewish or not, you have had these experiences. Terman explores his family history, his relation to certain relatives with expected quirks, church as an institution, and dealing with tragedy. Even if I wanted to, I could not stop reading at any given point thanks not only to his crafted use of enjambment, but also his Miltonic narrative that continues unfolding long after stanza breaks. This structure, in addition to thoughtful subjects that pull at the veins of every reader, forced me to finish the book in one sitting.
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Format: Perfect Paperback Verified Purchase
I found this to be a heart on your sleeve type of poetry. I really enjoyed reading this book. I found it moving, humorous, and an enjoyable read. I am not a poetry person, but this was recommended by a friend and I am glad I purchased it. The author obviously has been thru some moving experiences and found an insightful, intelligent way to share. It made me reflect on my personal experiences and helped me put words to some of my own life. Thanks for a great book.
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