The Kangaroo Girl
ISBN: 9780982359433 | Poetry | 6″x8″, 78 pp., pbk | 24 May 2011
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Starting with a photo that spent four decades in her father’s wallet (“Photo of Author In Kangaroo Pajamas”), Judith Baumel shows us new ways of understanding family and history. In this quintessentially modern book, her third, The Kangaroo Girl detects religion at the scene of many crimes: from the great disasters of the past—Edward I’s edict of expulsion in 1290, the War Between the States, the catastrophes of twentieth century Europe—to the small calamities of Jewish American life in the ethnic neighborhoods of New York City. The Kangaroo Girl is also a personal book, a meditation on being a daughter and a mother, and, in a series of moving elegies, what it means to survive loss. Judith Baumel’s love affairs with the visual—great buildings, great paintings, great art—and with the mysteries of language in great books and great conversations combine in this testament to human inventiveness and resilience.
Praise for The Kangaroo Girl
Judith Baumel’s new poems are inspiring cabinets, loaded with gorgeous sounds, startling juxtapositions, and emotionally intricate quests. Sophisticated and subtle prosodic effects find their match in the poet’s intellectual alertness, her endearing inquisitiveness: her carefully modulated lines bend, hurry, linger, exult, and effloresce, with idiomatic inventiveness and grace. The Kangaroo Girl is an important achievement by a remarkable poet.
I love Baumel’s poems, their restless bravura intelligence, their verbal pyrotechnics leavened with sorrow and the wisdom they’ve earned in sorrow. The Kangaroo Girl is interested in everything historical, from the medieval persecution of the Jews to the toys of technology, to the stories of our bodies. She charts the inexorable changes that choose us, and those we choose.
Readers of Judith Baumel’s poems know to expect a perfectly-heard line, a self-deprecating charm and indulgent wit that can turn the smallest occasion into a matter of weight, a blend of strong intelligence and sheer friendliness. But throughout The Kangaroo Girl, and especially in its last third, they will also find the collision of a new silence and a new intensity. This is Baumel’s best work yet.
Judith Baumel writes fierce and delicate meditations, combining an intimate personal lyricism with a broadly historical vision. This is a wondrously moving, rousing, and often very beautiful book.
About Judith Baumel
Judith Baumel’s previous books of poetry are The Weight of Numbers, for which she won the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets, and Now. Her poetry, translations and essays have been published in Poetry, The Yale Review, Agni Review, The New York Times, and The New Yorker, among others. Her work is represented in a number of anthologies including Telling and Remembering: A Century of Jewish American Poetry; Gondola Signore Gondola: Poems on Venice; and Poems of New York (Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets).
Readings & Events
(reverse chronological order)
28 January 2012: London, UK
“The Shuffle” at The Poetry Society
22 Betterton Street
Covent Garden, London WC2H 9BX
Tel 020 7420 9887
19 November 2011: New York, NY
6 pm @ Cornelia Street Cafe
29 Cornelia Street
19 November 2011: New York, NY
A Season In Poetry: Poetry Society at the New York Botanical Garden
with Michael Dickman and Jennifer Grotz
Bronx River Parkway at Fordham Road
31 October 2011: Cambridge, MA
8 pm @ The Blacksmith House
42 Brattle Street
5 July 2011: NYC
7 pm @ The Bowery Poetry Club
w/Michael Klein & Alan Semerdjian
308 Bowery (Between Houston and Bleecker)
F train to 2nd Ave, 6 to Bleecker
5 May: 2011
Featured Poet, Poetry Daily
11 April 2011: Brooklyn, NY
Judith Baumel and Jacqueline Jones LaMon
686 Fulton Street (at South Portland)