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Yeshiva Boys: Poems Hardcover – November 17, 2009

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Disarmingly casual, unexpectedly serious, alert to his predecessors and mentors in literature and in life, Best American Poetry series editor Lehman (When a Woman Loves a Man) has produced a seventh book of uncommon variety. Some poems consider writing itself, as inspiration, as vocation, as business—That's the thing about ambitious middle-aged writers/ who used to be young: each has a secret problem,/ and if they confess it, they think it will advance/ their careers. Others seek the informality that Lehman's readers have come to expect. The Jewish content promised by the title arrives in force late in the volume, as the title poem cuts between Lehman's remembered childhood and his adult meditations on heritage and the Holocaust: I feel as if my real life is somewhere else, I left it/ back in 1938. (Lehman's mother, who speaks the prose epilogue, describes her life as a child in Vienna and as a refugee.) Lehman, who lives in New York, remains alert to many styles and forms; as a poet he has often followed in the tracks of Kenneth Koch and Frank O'Hara. The title poem, leaving those influences behind, will seem to some readers flat and without style, to others as personal and as profound as anything Lehman has written. (Nov.)
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"Disarmingly casual, unexpectedly serious, alert to his predecessors and mentors in literature and in life...Lehman has produced an eighth book of uncommon variety....As personal and profound as anything Lehman has written." -Publishers Weekly

"These poems comprise offerings, elegantly undercut with wit, to the gods and goddesses of language and wordplay, poetic form and poetry's rich history. But more than that, they reflect an expansive mind's enormous complexity as it recounts a lived life. The whole of a world is here, and the remnants of an era -- from Dinah Shore to Bob Dylan, from Hitler to Nixon. Under the pretense of a 'new project to ward off ennui' Lehman has written a brilliant slant-told story of coming-of-age in America in the Cold War era, a story that captures that period's disquiet and confusions, as well as its remembered pleasures. Each poem is a set piece in the history of becoming. They are intelligent, wry, and sometimes lacerating in their moments of melancholic tenderness." -- Mary Jo Bang, author of Elegy

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; First Edition edition (November 17, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439136173
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439136171
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,237,956 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Lewis R. Saul on February 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've read every book of poems Lehman has ever published. The The Daily Mirror was really great because the premise (a poem a day) partially motivated the poet to focus his art without being overly fussy or technical -- the poems fly off the page and into your heart ...

Here comes an even greater feat, in my opinion. While the "daily" poems seemed somewhat improvisatory (although of course they were obviously carefully composed), after several readings of this volume, I feel like I'm scoping out a larger structural dynamic -- each poem is vastly different than its neighbor -- but yet somehow related.

The very first sentence of the very first poem in the book thrilled me:


On Purpose

"What is the purpose of your poems?"


Two things that most directly hit me:

Lehman loves mystery and seems to equally love subtle humor. You may not "get" the joke, but it's funny nonetheless! And what chill is that creeping up my spine? Sometimes it's just hard to say!

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By J. Samson on January 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Interesting, often moving and I'm enjoying working through this. Gave it
to literate Jewish friends who say they like it too.

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Format: Kindle Edition
Lehman’s “ Yeshiva Boys” is a sweeping autobiographical collection of his best and brightest work. Entrancing and almost mystical, Lehman’s brand of innovative and realist poetry is evident throughout. He soars in his work connected to the Jewish faith, particularly his vivid account of growing up as a child of Holocaust survivors. Between his vivid accounts of awakened sexuality, and the restraint used in describing his repressive education Lehman crafts a picture of a confused and transitioning life. Judaism is a catalyst of his self reflection and change, as Lehman weaves his work into both his secular identity as an American, and his personhood as a Jew. The writing is nuanced in its seemingly causal structure, translating various messages of faith and philosophy in constantly changing narration.
My personal favorite poem from the book is 4. After Auschwitz . Here as Lehman deals with shame and disconnect, a real vulnerability is conveyed. The writing is haunting and melodic in its spoken world style, the run on sentences leave the reader breathless, and the ending is as horrifying as thought provoking.
The only critique I would offer is that the allusions in the writing can sometimes feel forced, as not all readers have the same academic background of poetry. Usually, this problem can be solved by a simple google search.
Overall the book was a thought-provoking​ and all encompassing journey of Lehman’s life and I’m happy I ordered it !
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