This Passover or The Next – Review Excerpts

Review Excerpts

This Passover or The Next, I will Never Be In Jerusalem

By Hilton Obenzinger


The title of the first book by Hilton Obenzinger, The Day of the Exquisite Poet is Kaput, immediately declares itself political. Its themes of personal and social responsibility, the marginality of oppositional art in a monocultural stranglehold, are announced in the flow of poems of simple everyday pleasures. Reflecting an insouciance associated with the New York school of poetry, his work in California begins to address themes central to his identity as a Jewish American radical poet. This Passover Or The Next I Will Never Be in Jerusalem brings together poems, autobiographical narratives, and charged polemics focusing on an interrogation of the Zionist nation of Israel. It is an extraordinary and courageous work, problematizing knotted themes of exile and homeland from the twice-removed Jewish American vantage point. Drawing metaphors from the white Anglo-American usurpation of the American continent from its indigenous people, Obenzinger accuses Israel of a similar theft and a similar (and familiar) demonizing of a native population. . .

-David Meltzer
The Before Columbus Foundation Poetry Anthology
Selections from the American Book Awards, 1980-1990

. . . He digs into the past, brings us from Moses to Christopher Columbus through Adolph Hitler to Charlie Chaplin and Woody Allen. And he digs into his own heart and expresses the sadness, anger, joy and laughter he feels . . . and, if that weren’t enough, there is also some truly wonderful poetry here.

—Jonah Raskin

. . . This book raises all the questions I grew up with — questions about the validity of Zionism, about personal and social responsibility, and the whole validity of the mythology of chosenness. I hope many people will read it though I am also rather afraid that Obenzinger will be cast from the temple rather than educate it.

—Herb Kohl

Book Excerpt