Publication Date:  June 1, 2016
Paperback, 84 pages
ISBN:  978-1-937968-22-9
Booksellers:  Available from
Small Press Distribution
Judith Kerman has published eight
Postcards from America (Post Traumatic
Press), as well as three books of translations
(White Pine Press, BOA Editions, Mayapple
Press).  She was a Fulbright Scholar in the
Dominican Republic in 2002. She founded
Earth’s Daughters magazine in Buffalo, NY
Press, located in Woodstock, NY, since
1980. She is Professor of English Emerita
from Saginaw Valley State University, where
she previously served as Dean of Arts and
Behavioral Sciences.

A literary trailer of her poem, “Fragile,” and
her video documentary about Dominican
Carnaval, as well as clips of several readings,
can be seen on YouTube on the Judith
                                         My hands know more than I do,
                                         prayer shawls, braided bread.

The broken Aleph—first letter of the Hebrew alphabet—represents the chasm
between the author, a secular Jew, and her cultural and religious heritage.  The
poems in this collection explore her efforts to repair that breach and to find her
footing in the world, negotiating the path of history and tradition while fully alive to
the present.  
                                         A little at a time
                                         I begin to read the old language,
                                         though it is still an iron grate,
                                         a bricked-up window.

Though her journey is personal, the reverberations of the work are universal, doing
what the best poetry always does, permeating boundaries and opening up a space
for wonder to enter the world.
                                         A book tells secrets
                                         it's dying to share
                                         once the mourning ends.

"America is often described as a land of immigrants. It is less often noticed that
America is a land of diaspora. People from all kinds of backgrounds, religious and
ethnic, find themselves in an ambivalent relationship to assimilation and also to their
cultures of family origin. We work at finding a home here while also thinking about
the old home place (physical, cultural, spiritual) that may or may not be possible to
visit. We often feel tugged toward cultural memories that may be heavily
romanticized or traumatic or both.  
Aleph, broken appeals to readers, both Jewish
and not, interested in the tension between American identity and the other
resonances rooted in culture of origin."
                                         Judith Kerman

Praise for Judith Kerman's Aleph, broken:

"In this evocative and powerful collection of poems, where personal history collides
with ancestral memories, a sense of elegiac longing is tempered by language of
exquisite beauty. Questions about what is holy and what is human and how cultural
touchstones can help us make connections across the boundaries that separate us
from our deepest selves are the subject that Kerman returns to again and again,
often with wonder, sometimes with regret, but always with the confidence of a
master poet."
                                     Eleanor Lerman

"Aleph, the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, now broken, the poet tells us, that
language being 'one of the burned tongues' she never learned. In this America, in
this whole world that 'goes on beyond what anyone knows,' within this infrastructure
of disruption, displacement, violent din, political disgrace, & Hopkins' blear of
human activity that threatens god's nature, how can we center ourselves again,
connect, feel spiritual wholeness? Judith Kerman follows her own intuitional &
soundful voice the way in her beautiful 'Star-nosed Mole' that shroud-like creature
scrapes 'toward the knot of black roots' until, 'Even now, all these years later, / the
light of her star / gleams down the long tunnels' of space and time. This is a
remarkable book by a poet who helps us find our way despite such knowledge as
might entrap us."
                                     William Heyen

"Judith Kerman’s new collection of poems, is a gathering of restrained and thought-
ful mediations on her life, focusing on her secular Jewishness and the implicit impact
history has had on the way she experiences the world. Kerman is a poet who
observes everything with careful eyes, unsentimental about her own failings. She is
doing some meaningful witnessing— testifying to the simple power of living in the
non-dramatic and resisting the temptation to (over) dramatize it. Her best poems are
refreshing observations—her mother’s Florida garden, her difficulty trying to
describe a color, the flash of a diamond ring on her finger after she’s bought it for
herself at auction, mastering and using religious language, though it’s clear this is an
exercise, not a passion. Judith Kerman writes with substance, a wholesome
acceptance of an imperfect world, oneself included. Her poems are an admirable
reality-check for all of us.
                                     Diane Wakoski