Tikkun Winter 2019 (34.1) - Page 134

poetry circles for her poems and her scholar- ship as well as to followers of Jewish literature. Her 2009 collection, The Book of Seventy, won the National Jewish Book Award in Poetry. Less known, possibly, to American readers is the work of Elaine Feinstein. Feinstein is a pro- digious English writer and translator. In 2018, Sheep Meadow Press will publish her new and selected poems, The Clinic, Memory. The Clinic, Memory is a wonderful introduction to Feinstein’s work. and translations. The Clinic, Memory provides an excellent overview of Feinstein’s work over the decades as well as fifteen new poems. Feinstein’s poems are rich in detail of the Eng- lish countryside, grounded in literary history, and wise and witty. Literary women fill these poems. Feinstein dreams of Amy Levy, “preco- cious, gifted girl, my nineteenth-century voice of Xanthippe,” asking “Here it is my name that makes me strange. / A hundred years on, is it still the same?” She listens to Edith Piaf, “a tiny woman in a black dress, / with an audi- ence ready to watch her collapse on stage,” in Babraham observing “she learned to sell her ordinary life for applause.” She imagines Ma- rina Tsevtayeva visiting Anna Akhmatova in a dream: “Marina is / trudging through frozen mud[.]” Her early poem about motherhood, “Mother Love,” begins with the same grimness as other early feminist assessments: You eat me, your nights eat me Once you took haemoglobin and bone out of my blood Image courtesy of Sheep Meadow Press. Like Ostriker, Feinstein’s poetry extends now across five decades and her themes dovetail with Ostriker’s: domestic life, motherhood, feminism, Jewish experience, reworking of myth, and commodious engagements with an imperfect world. Feinstein published her first collection, In a Green Eye, in 1966 (Ostriker’s Songs appeared in 1969). She has published more than a dozen collections of poetry since then as well as numerous novels, radio plays, 134 W W W .T I K K U N . O R G The poem contains only a small sprinkling of affection and ends with further observances of the grotesque. Feinstein’s stark assessments of women’s lives resonate with other feminist po- ets writing during the past fifty years including Margaret Atwood, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Joan Larkin, Lucile Clifton, and Sharon Olds. Since The Clinic, Memory gathers a lifetime of poems in a single volume, questions of age and aging arise organically; Feinstein exploits this structural condition. Selected poems from earlier volumes often end with a poem that considers aging. From her 1997 collection Daylight, Feinstein includes the poem “Mir- ror” with the observation that “A matron aunt WINTER 2019