Photo Credit: Alexis Rhone Fancher

Judy Kronenfeld

b. 1943

Current City, State, Country

Riverside, California, USA

Birth City, State, Country

New York, New York, USA


Judy Kronenfeld is the author of eight collections of poetry. Her six full-length books include If Only There Were Stations of the Air (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions, 2024), Groaning and Singing (FutureCycle, 2022), Bird Flying through the Banquet (FutureCycle, 2022), Shimmer (WordTech, 2012), and Light Lowering in Diminished Sevenths, 2nd edition (Antrim House, 2012) – winner of the 2007 Litchfield Review Poetry Book Prize. Her most recent chapbook is Ghost Nurseries (Finishing Line, 2005). Her poems have appeared in four dozen anthologies and in such journals as American Poetry Journal, Cider Press Review, Cimarron Review, DMQ Review, Innisfree Poetry Journal, MacQueen’s Quinterly, New Ohio Review, Offcourse, One (Jacar Press), Poetry International, Rattle, Sequestrum, Sheila-Na-Gig, Slant, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Verdad, and Your Daily Poem. She is a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, and has also been nominated for Best of the Net. A Stanford PhD in English, Judy has also published literary criticism, including King Lear and the Naked Truth (Duke, 1998), short stories, and creative nonfiction. She is Lecturer Emerita, Creative Writing Department, University of California, Riverside. She lives in Riverside, California, with her anthropologist husband. They have two far-flung children and four grandchildren.

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

I am the only child of Yiddish and German-speaking immigrants, raised in a tiny apartment in the heavily immigrant working-class Bronx of the 1940s and 1950s—Jewish, Italian, Irish. My father managed to leave Nazi Germany for the U.S. in 1934, following his parents and most of his siblings; his eldest sister and her family felt too settled to leave, and delayed until it was too late. My mother and most of her family arrived in 1927, from Vienna, on one of a relatively few visas granted at that time. My relationship with my parents was intense, and their lives, and the lives of wider family—long after their deaths—their language and expressions, as well as my experiences as a first generation Jewish-American, and the urban scene of my childhood remain profound sources of fascination and mystery for me and provoke many of my poems. For me, these poems are like pebbles left on grave stones. For me, as in the epigraph, from Theodor Adorno, to one of my poems, “Saving the Dead,” Our memory is the only help that is left to them.

My nonfiction and my poetry emerge from a person who feels inescapably Jewish, but has complex, mixed, and wavering feelings about religion, and who continues to think about what membership in a religious institution offers, and might or should offer. I am also fascinated, in my nonfiction, as well as in my poetry, by what it felt like to be an undergraduate English major in the early 1960s, before multiculturalism, when to study English literature was, in effect, to study Christianity, and when, as the New Criticism emphasized, poems were meant to be immersive experiences for the reader. I fell in love with all the priest-poets—Donne, Herbert, Hopkins. And I emotionally internalized the trajectories of their poems, even Donne’s Holy Sonnet XI, beginning “Spit in my face, you Jewes, and pierce my side.” Literary training at the Ivy League college I attended on half-scholarship was bracketed from the full reality of my being a first generation Jewish-American; it was part of my passport to a wider, more socially elite world. In my poem, “The Heresy of Paraphrase” (in Bird Flying through the Banquet, 2017), the speaker, reading in her college carrel, fully imagines “Donne / imagining the crucifixion,” but “not once” does she “think Jewes / Jews.”

Published Works

Groaning and Singing (FutureCycle, 2022)
Bird Flying through the Banquet (FutureCycle, 2017)
Shimmer (WordTech, 2012)
Light Lowering in Diminished Sevenths, 2nd ed. (Antrim House, 2012)
Light Lowering in Diminished Sevenths (Litchfield Review Press, 2008)
Ghost Nurseries (chapbook; Finishing Line, 2005)
Disappeared Down Dark Wells, and Still Falling (chapbook; Inevitable Press, 2000)
Shadow of Wings (Bellflower Press, 1991)

Literary Criticism
KING LEAR and the Naked Truth: Rethinking the Language of Religion and Resistance (Duke, 1998)

Author Site

Links to Sample Works

Video Reading

Current Title

Lecturer Emerita, Creative Writing Department, UC Riverside


Smith College, 1964, B.A. summa cum laude
Stanford University, 1971, Ph.D.

Subject Matter