Tom Laichas: 9 Poems from “Naming the Animals”

Named and Nameless In the midst of the naming, the boy asks: What’s your name? The Voice remembers: years in the future, others will ask this question. The reply is the same: I am what I am. The boy: That’s not an answer. We’re all what we all are, nameless or no. The Voice: But…

Allen Ginsberg’s “Kaddish” (Forerunners)

While I’d like to say that after Four Quartets, I don’t know of another long poem from the last century that’s meant as much to me as Allen Ginsberg’s elegy for his mother, Kaddish for Naomi Ginsberg, 1894-1956. But it’s so powerful that even describing it as a poem seems silly: it really doesn’t matter…

The Song of the Sea (Forerunners)

“The Song of the Sea,” which comprises Exodus 15:1-18 and tells of the Israelites’ escape from Egypt via the Red Sea, is one of the oldest parts of the Bible. Explaining the early form of Hebrew in which it was written, James Kugel notes that the Hebrew prefix ha- (a definite article corresponding to our…