Roots in the Air

Shirley Kaufman

Drawing upon six previous books and offering a generous selection of new poems, this collection spans more than twenty-five years and a life lived in two countries. Kaufman’s poems flourish in the spaces between life in Israel and life in the United States, and in those moments when the differences between Palestinians and Israeli Jews, mothers and daughters, history and the immediate moment play themselves out. Her poems evoke what it means to value one’s roots, yet not be rooted, speaking beyond the individual immigrant’s experience to a larger global interconnectedness.

ISBN: 9781556591112

Format: Paperback

About the Author

A prize-winning American-Israeli, Shirley Kaufman was born in Seattle, Washington, and lived in San Francisco until 1973, when she immigrated to Jerusalem. Eight volumes of her poetry have been published in the United States, including Roots in the Air: New & Selected Poems (1996), Threshold (2003), and Ezekiel’s Wheels (2009), all from Copper Canyon Press. Her Selected Poems, translated into Hebrew by Aharon Shabtai, with Dan Pagis and Dan Miron, was published by the Bialik Institute in Jerusalem in 1995. …

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“Kaufman’s poems flourish in the spaces between what is familiar and unfamiliar.” —American Book Review

“In this intelligent selection of work spanning 26 years, Kaufman sensitively addresses lives which… persist despite adversity… Kaufman is adept at revealing the human face behind politics, carefully accumulating familiar details to make a large portrait of suffering… Her acute, original observations convey the obligation, despite the difficulties, of the human conscience to situate itself knowledgeably in history.” —Publishers Weekly

“Shirley Kaufman started her life over again in Israel in 1973. Poems from her book that antedate that upheaval as well as from the several that followed them are richly represented in this collection. The new poems, ever more deeply rooted, are made even more poignant by current events. The powerful exactitude of these lucid, lyrical poems makes this a book to cherish.” —Maxine Kumin

“Shirley Kaufman’s poetry dwells on many things which are unsayable, perhaps even unthinkable, in our daily lives, but they are indubitably real… This great drama of human passion is played out in poems which enchant because of their visual accuracy and their sensitivity to the finer nuances of rhythm and sound… Using all the power and skills of the modernists, Shirley Kaufman returns poetry to the human dimension seen through a woman’s eyes.” —Jerusalem Post Literary Supplement

“The outstanding qualities of these poems are their clear-sightedness, their straight-forwardness, and the accuracy of their simple metaphors… Their emotional message lies on the surface and soaks, like water, into the heart. Ms. Kaufman sustains a high quality and consistency of tone, strategy and diction over the poetry of a lifetime… The collection as a whole reads fluidly and logically… This is no small achievement in a mannerist age.” —American Book Review

“There’s such solidity to Shirley Kaufman’s writing: emotional, imagistic, sensuous. You feel in conversation with someone wise and passionate, someone you can trust.” —Poetry Flash