Henry Israeli

b. 1967

Current City, State, Country


Birth City, State, Country

Toronto, Canada


Henry Israeli earned his BA from McGill University and MFAs in poetry and in playwriting from the University of Iowa. He is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Our Age of Anxiety (winner of the White Pine Poetry Press Prize) and god’s breath hovering across the waters (Four Way Books). The child of a Holocaust survivor and an immigrant to the United States, Israeli is keenly aware of how legacies of historical traumas shape and inflect his verse. He is also the translator of three critically acclaimed collections of Albanian poet Luljeta Lleshanaku. He has been awarded fellowship grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Canada Council on the Arts, and elsewhere. His poetry and translations have appeared in numerous journals including American Poetry Review, Boston Review, Harvard Review, The Iowa Review, Smartish Pace, Grand Street, The Literary Review, Tin House, Fence, and Verse as well as several anthologies. Henry Israeli is also the founder and publisher of Saturnalia Books He is currently Professor of English at Drexel University where he also serves as Director of Jewish Studies and Director of the Drexel Writing Festival.

What is the relationship between Judaism and/or Jewish culture and your poetry?

As the son of Holocaust survivors, I carry the burden of not only telling their stories but also of bringing awareness of how the genocide and its ramifications continue to live on in the children and even grandchildren of survivors. Our very existence is a testament to survival, and at the same time we continue to carry the burden of the dead. Having beaten all the odds to be here today, we remain on high alert at all times, continually questioning our environment for possible danger signs that could again metastasize and eventually obliterate us. These fears, this sense of dread, whether suppressed or not, always come through in my poetry.

Published Works

Lords of Misrule
: 20 Years of Saturnalia Books (editor; Saturnalia Books, 2022)
Our Age of Anxiety (White Pine, 2019)
god’s breath hovering across the waters (Four Way Books, 2016)
Praying to the Black Cat (Del Sol, 2010)
New Messiahs (Four Way Books, 2002)

(Blood Axe, 2011)
Child of Nature (New Directions, 2010)
Fresco (New Directions, 2002)

Author Site

Links to Sample Works

Current Title

Director of Jewish Studies / Drexel University


MFA (theater), University of Iowa
MFA (poetry), University of Iowa
BA (English), McGill University

Subject Matter