Current City, State, Country
Birth City, State, Country
Rebecca Aronson is the author of three books of poetry: Anchor; Ghost Child of the Atalanta Bloom, winner of the 2016 Orison Books poetry prize and winner of the 2019 Margaret Randall Book Award from the Albuquerque Museum Foundation; and Creature, Creature, winner of the Main-Traveled Roads Poetry Prize. She has been a recipient of a Prairie Schooner Strousse Award, the Loft’s Speakeasy Poetry Prize, and a Tennessee Williams Scholarship to Sewanee. She is co-founder and host of Bad Mouth, a series of words and music. She teaches writing in New Mexico, where she lives with her husband and teenage son and a very demanding cat.
What is the relationship between Judaism and/or Jewish culture and your poetry?
The question of the connection between Judaism and my writing is not one I have a
clear answer to. I grew up in a non-religious family, but one that identified as “culturally
Jewish.” But what that means, exactly, is very hard to sort out.
Since we weren’t religious and only took half-hearted swipes at holidays in general –a
little Hanukkah, a little Christmas, an occasional Passover Seder—what it meant to be
Jewish for me was often a sense of difference from my particular social group. My
family ate different foods, we debated everything no matter how trivial, and of course we
didn’t go to church. But were these differences because of Judaism or due to the nature
of my particular family? My parents were East-coast transplants in the Midwest, they’d
both grown up in observant households and then each rejected religion in general once
they moved out of their respective homes, though they peppered their conversations
with bits of Yiddish and Hebrew; they were educated, they traveled frequently, and were
interested in foods and music and art from all over the world. They were avid readers.
All of this must have influenced my writing.
I can’t exactly sort out in what ways the culture of my family was Jewish, aside from a
love of latkes, but who doesn’t love latkes? But I do know that I was encouraged to
question things, including authority (or, at least I was not exactly discouraged from
doing so). We weren’t religious, but we were expected to do good things in the world, to
generally be “good.” Learning a little about the history of Jews in the world accentuated
my sense of Jewish identity, but did not help me sort out the ways in which I was
Jewish. My blood? What does that even mean?
I know that all the factors of my upbringing gave me a sense of wonder that is indebted
both to science and even more so to mystery. A friend once called me the most
religious atheist he knows, or something along those lines, because of the particular
kind of reverence or wonder that tends to pop up in my poems. Is this all tied to
Judaism? The answer is probably yes, somehow.
Anchor (Orison Books, 2022)
Ghost Child of the Atalanta Bloom (Orison Books, 2017)
Creature, Creature (Main-Traveled Roads Press, 2007)
Links to Sample Works
University of Washington, MFA Poetry, 2003
University of New Mexico, MA English/Creative Writing, 1995
University of Minnesota, BA English, 1988