By Hilton Obenzinger
Ithuriel’s Spear, 2017
Paperback, 5 3/8” X 8 3/8,” 114pages
Blasphemy is holy—and exciting, outrageous literature in TREYF PESACH (Unkosher Passover). Novelist Paul Auster declares that this book “strikes with all the force of an exploding bomb—because it speaks the truth.” This collection of poems presents radical departures from traditional rituals, formats and conventions: alternative Passover Seders, Yom Kippur liturgy, Thanksgiving prayers, psalms and other poems in the form of proclamations, resolutions, jazz improvisations, incantations, rants, orations, comic monologues, oil spills, life spills, songs, visions, undocumented documents, borders, suns, farewells, minutes of meetings, talk-stories, and all accompanied by provocative drawings of Treyf Passover Seder plates by artist Charles Steckler.
In this book the symbolic plate is arrayed with treyf (un-kosher food) and the story of the Exodus with untypical meanings, whiskey instead of wine, recounting the continual slavery of wars and military occupations. The poems in TREYF PESACH have taken place over the course of years and various occasions, from vicious aggressions, to absurd walls, to smallpox blankets, to oil spouting across the Gulf, and more, all framed by the first months of the Trump regime.
Some have been read out loud at Seders, Yom Kippur services, Thanksgiving Day benedictions, Sunday fellowships, and other ceremonies. But those are the exceptions. For the most part TREYF PESACH has been placed under arrest and shoved across the borders of respectability.
Hilton Obenzinger writes poetry, fiction, history, and criticism, and is the recipient of the American Book Award. According to poet Diane di Prima, “he is the American Jonathan Swift.”
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