Contains several bilingual English/Yiddish poems
The Education of a Daffodil is an extended reflection on violence on a small scale and its legacies. In the first section, “Brief Histories of Fear,” the poet constructs an atmosphere of foreboding and danger. This is a sequence of discrete narrative and portrait poems highlighting protagonists in a variety of historical and contemporary settings in moments of crisis and/or introspection. Crafted in sometimes ornate language, this section presents the conjured kindred spirits that have shaped the title character and evokes some of his principal literary influences and moods. In the second section, “Life Studies in Yellow and Other Primary Colors,” the lens is narrowed, and the poems are interconnected. Here, the effeminate eponymous hero moves from a state of innocence, or rather unknowing, through the crucible of brutality, into ultimately a state approaching equilibrium. Taken together, the book can be read as a Bildungsroman in free verse and a chronicle of tenacity and endurance. Six poems also have a Yiddish version.
Although he’s a prose poet, Yermiyahu Ahron Taub’s poems in The Education of a Daffodil demonstrate that he is also part storyteller and part playwright from another time. Somehow Taub weaves these genres together to create striking narrative tales of trauma, loss, displacement, sexuality, and xenophobia. Imagine a Yiddish bard from centuries past who creates scenes that mark his place in this post-modern world: that is Yermiyahu Ahron Taub. This courageous collection, which offers flickers of Lucille Clifton and flashes of Marge Piercy, won’t let us forget that the past flourishes in the present, and that the unexamined life is a terrible waste.
– Carmen Calatayud, author of In the Company of Spirits
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