Shadow Architect

Emily Warn

Mystics have long considered the Hebrew alphabet a key to divine intent, believing that God brought the world into being through speech. Shadow Architect is Emily Warn’s midrash: her exploration of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet—the alef-beit—in which she considers the limits and generative power of language. She writes in her preface: “I studied the letters in the same way I study Zen koans: I absorbed their source texts and interpretations (Torah stories, psalms, poems, paintings, calligraphy), living with them until an experience or insight shattered their language and logic, revealing what they concealed.”
Within the set boundaries of this alphabet, Warn unites her own distinctly American poetics with the language of sacred texts and commentaries. The result is an alluring, multilayered, and polyphonic investigation of what language means: an architecture not only of shadows, but of “correspondences, analogies, / binaries, metaphors, keys.”

ISBN: 9781556592775

Format: Paperback

About the Author

Emily Warn’s latest book is Shadow Architect. Her previous books include The Leaf Path and The Novice Insomniac; she has also published two chapbooks, The Book of Esther and Highway Suite. Her poems and essays appear widely in such publications as Poetry, Poetry Northwest, Bookforum, The Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, Blackbird, Jacket2, and Narrative. She is a former Stegner Fellow and founding editor of She teaches at the Richard Hugo House and has taught previously at Lynchburg College and the …

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“Emily Warn’s poems passionately search for the answers.” —Jewish Times

“Warn has created a serious meditation on Jewish prayer and cosmogony—in lyrical prose and in accessible verse, a book that belongs not only on poetry shelves, but amid other Judaica and books of prose and verse on religious themes.” —Publishers Weekly

“… a sincere exploration of spirituality and the line between the abstract and the concrete…” —Library Journal

“By holding words to the light, Emily Warn interprets their shadows… These works are poured from the ‘invisible forge’ of eternity.” —Brooklyn Rail