Current City, State, Country
Birth City, State, Country
Amy Dryansky (she/her) has published two poetry collections; the second, Grass Whistle (Salmon Poetry) received the Massachusetts Book Award, and the first, How I Got Lost So Close to Home, won the New England/New York Award from Alice James Books. Individual poems appear in Harvard Review, New England Review, Orion, Radar, The Sun, Tin House, and other journals and anthologies. She’s also received fellowships/honors from the Poetry Society of America, Massachusetts Cultural Council, MacDowell Colony and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.
Dryansky lives and works in western Massachusetts, where she teaches writing, parents two children and works as a grant writer for a regional land conservation agency.
What is the relationship between Judaism and/or Jewish culture and your poetry?
This is an interesting question for me. I was raised in a secular, political, academic Jewish family. My parents spoke some Yiddish in the house, but had given up going to synagogue, were not observant, and I received no formal Jewish education. I never learned to read or write Hebrew, except for a few holiday prayers. Nevertheless, I thought of myself as Jewish, and for me that identity was closely connected to art, literature, education, and being and thinking about the world in a particular way, a questioning, curious way. I felt as Jews we could take nothing at face value and shouldn’t. That it was important for us always to peel away the layers and look underneath. And, importantly, not to be afraid to look at whatever was revealed by that stripping away. To look, to look, and never stop looking. Always question. Never forget. Writing this it occurs to be that this way of being is kind of exhausting, and maybe it is easier not to look, but that’s not something I know how to do. And as a poet, of course, the seeing, questioning and recording are a natural course. The questioning that is embedded in Judaism is embedded in my approach to writing. Often, I don’t know what I need to write about until I start writing, and that, too, feels tied to my Jewishness: it’s a practice, a repetition, a prayer, a midrash that I keep refining until it feels true, until it becomes spirit. I’m not sure you can be Jewish without feeling our history of losses hovering, pressing in on us. I write into and against those losses, I write to remake a world that has often wanted to erase us.
Grass Whistle (Salmon Poetry, 2013)
How I Got Lost So Close to Home (Alice James Books, 1999)
Links to Sample Works
Syracuse University, B.F.A., Selected Studies; Painting & Art History
Vermont College of Fine Arts, M.F.A., Poetry