In honor of National Poetry Month (that’d be April), the new Twin Cities-based website TCJewfolk.com is running a series called Poets with Chutzpah. Last week, they profiled St. Paul expat Yael Miriam, who currently lives and slams in Brooklyn. This week, they profiled me. I have to say, I gave a good run of being an interviewee, discussing (with the awesome host Leora Maccabee) what chutzpah really means, and defending myself about calling myself a “professional poet.”
Yael Miriam, though, is on fire. She’s been touring as a member of Birthright NEXT’s live slam stage show, and doing work as an activist and in the theatre. She’s all over the place as a creator, and just as all over the place with her Jewish identity. Maybe it’s just because we’re always wrestling with that question in our culture section at MJL — is this person Jewish? is their art? what does that even mean? — but her analysis of identity really hit home for us:
If only I could hyphenate every one of my titles. I am Jewish and I am a poet. I am also an actress-activist-humanitarian-educator-woman-daughter-sister-friendâ€¦in no particular order. Each part of my identity effects every part of my life, especially in my art. As a poet the relationship between my identity and my work is even more present as I am speaking about my own experiences, and in this particular case, experiences relating to my Judaism. The question then is which parts of my identity are permanent and which are ever changing. At this moment I am a Jewish poet, or perhaps a poetic Jew, and while I hope to always be both of these things, I know I will always be a Jew.