|BROADSTONE BOOKS presents
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 appeared in numerous journals, including Faultline,
Fourteen Hills and Ibbetson Street. She lives in San
Francisco with her wife 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,
including 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
Rabbi Eric Weiss, Executive Director
Bay Area Jewish Healing Center
"In 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
$18.50 retail price
|Praise for AND GOD SAID...
|Cover art: Creation, David Jackson, Copyright 2003
The Saint John's Bible, The Order of Saint Benedict
Used by Permission
And God Said...
A Brief History of Creation