A Brief History of Creation
Poems by
Barbara Leff
Born and raised in New York, Barbara Leff
discovered poetry at the age of twelve, and has explored the
genre ever since.   Co-founder of the Caselli Street Poets,
her work has appeared in numerous journals, including
Faultline, Fourteen Hills and Ibbetson Street.  She lives in
San Francisco with her partner and brood of four-legged
furry ones.  
And God Said . . . is her first collection.
"Barbara Leff's And God Said... is a brilliant retelling of The Book of Genesis, one of the
foundational texts of Western culture.  The biases, gaps and silences of the original are given voice
and texture by Leff's humane and compelling imagination which brings a fresh and passionate
angle of vision to these familiar stories, transforming in the process not only our understanding of
our religious past but also of the contemporary life which is in part a product of that past.  This
is a wonderful and exhilarating book."
                                                 Alan Shapiro, author of ten poetry collections,
Tantalus in Love and Old War Poems

"Barbara Leff 's challenge in And God Said... is not only to offer radical alternatives to Biblical
narratives, but to offer new structures for these familiar and time burnished tales.  In reading Leff's
poems, I relished the stark retellings of the stories of Adam, Eve, Noah, Abraham, and a host of
others. Among all the strategies of form Leff 's poetry displays, an excellent pantoum recreating
the story of Leah ("What's in a Name") and a marvelous list poem featuring all the names of the
divinity ("And By My Names Ye Shall Know Me") give ample evidence that this book is also
blessed with craft's mastery."
                                                 Eloise Klein Healy, author of
The Islands Project: Poems For Sappho

"Every now and then in literature comes a brilliant conceit.
Even rarer comes a great poem.
Here, in one work, is both."
                                                 Mark Dowie, Investigative Historian,
                                                 author of
Conservation Refugees:
                                                 The Hundred-Year Conflict between
                                                 Global Conservation and Native Peoples

"Barbara Leff’s poems stake their place in the landscape of modern Jewish poetry.  Her poetic
voice joins the open conversation of Modern Midrash.  Every generation layers its own words
onto ancient text.  This poetic task keeps our tradition fresh.  Her imagination brings the poet’s
truth to the lived experience of biblical life.  Her words bring the self-reflective quality of the
post-Modern era to the millennia of our tradition’s textual culture.  The voices we hear in her
poems mix our contemporary inner experience to the commonplace text and bring new possibility
to the ways we can understand our Master Narrative."
                                                 Rabbi Eric Weiss, Executive Director
                                                 Bay Area Jewish Healing Center

And God Said... Barbara Leff revisits The Book of Genesis.  Her 'what ifs' are the confronting
and interesting 'what ifs' people of faith have.  You can't explore something with this much
openness and intensity if you are utterly disinterested.  They are thoughtful, exposing poems.  
They do shake many of our creation stories and characters upside down by the ankles.  God can
handle it.  So can we.  In reading this calm, brilliant collection I made discoveries, which is the
point of revisiting any familiar story.  I was particularly taken by the voices coming out of these
poems, some of them internal thoughts shared from the likes of Cain, Jacob, Esau, fire personified,
Lot's wife, the baker....  Leff's voices - I can't emphasize the voices enough - will stay with you.  I
highly recommend this book.
                                                 Katy Giebenhain, Poetry & Theology Editor
Seminary Ridge Review (Autumn 2011, Vol 14 No 1)
                                         "God made everything out of nothing,
                                           but the nothingness shows through."
                                                                          - Paul Valery

In her debut collection of poetry, San Francisco author Barbara Leff fills in some of the
“nothingness,” the chinks in the Creation stories from the Book of Genesis.  Melding
traditional Judaic sources with personal insights and a vivid poetry imagination, she
recasts and fleshes out the familiar sagas of Adam and Eve, Abraham, Noah, Lot’s Wife
and a biblical host of characters who inhabit the heart of our culture.  In verse combining
mordant wit with intense immediacy, Leff offers a provocative new rendering of the
stories we think we know so well.
Paperback, 80 pages
Publication Date:  October 1, 2011
ISBN:  978-0-9802117-5-7
$18.50 retail price
Praise for AND GOD SAID...
About the Author
Cover art:  Creation, David Jackson, Copyright 2003
The Saint John's Bible, The Order of Saint Benedict
Collegeville, Minnesota
Used by Permission