Poetry. Esther Cohen writes with humor and joy and lots of energy. You can’t help but smile when you encounter her delightful images. In her title poem, for example, you learn that she once wrote a poem and “‘God Is a Tree’ was the title. / Louis Savitsky didn’t like it./ He asked why / I had the chutzpah / to believe I knew. / A few years later, Louis’s daughter / became a Scientologist.” It is those seemingly unrelated comments, presented with a straight “face,” that startle and amuse as they challenge one’s thinking. These poems have a definite Jewish tone to them, but certainly one doesn’t need to be Jewish in order to appreciate them.
Esther Cohen (Book Doctor, Don’t Mind Me and Other Jewish Lies, BREAKFAST WITH ALLEN GINSBERG, PAINTING BROOKLYN and No Charge for Looking) lives in New York City where she is Executive Director of Bread and Roses, the national non-profit cultural program of New York’s union for health care workers. Winner of a Pure Visionary Award for a photographic project she initiated to give cameras and photography lessons to working men and women across the country, Cohen is a storyteller and humorist. For more on Esther, her books and a poem a day, esthercohen.com
Esther Cohen on her bio: Well it shouldn’t be impossible for me to write a biography that is honest and satisfying and helpful and maybe even funny. But it is. I am never entirely sure what to say, what details would be interesting and helpful and useful to you, The Reader, you reader of these sentences and many others. I am tallish. And curious. I am getting older.
Lauren Grosskopf –
I really enjoyed this book of poetry, as well as her Breakfast with Allen Ginsberg. She has a lightness, brevity and depth all at once.
Janet, Goodreads –
A tiny, fabulous book of poems, a distinctive quiet, humorous voice, about getting older. And who isn’t getting older? Sensible and yet original, nothing sentimental or smarmy, this is great great poetry couched in a ‘who, me?’ way. Esther Cohen has a brand new fan in me. I am going to buy a zillion copies of this, the perfect gift. Takes 2 0 minutes to read, if that, yet I know it will keep me company for years and years. I’d put it between Allen Ginsberg and a book of Rumi maybe.
They’re tiny prayers, numbered. Here’s Twenty Nine:
“The truth is I’ve had
a hard time with forgiveness.
Revenge is easier.
Last year I read four forgiveness books,
talked to a few serious Christians and Jews
even a Buddhist a Hindu a Sikh and an
agnostic. I don’t intuitively
turn the other cheek, and don’t know how.
And I’m talking about pettiness,
not wars or larger wrongs.
I’d like to learn, and thought one way might be
to say the word three times each day:
Cynthia, Goodreads –
Little gems from New York poet Esther Cohen. For more fun, look for her collaboration with Roz Chast, “Don’t Mind Me.”
Sparrow, Goodreads –
A collection of 72 prayers, in the form of poems, numbered like the songs – written by an agnostic. This exercise in devotion-without-God inadvertently founds a new school of Buddhist poetry.
was my last day,
what would I do?
Certainly not dust.
Naomi Firestone-Teeter, Jewish Book Council –
Just came across a lovely new book of poems by Esther Cohen entitled God Is a Tree, and Other Middle-Age Prayers. The publisher is dead on when describing the book: “You can’t help but smile when you encounter her delightful images.” A great gift, and it’s only $10! And, if you like this book, you may enjoy another title that Esther worked on with New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast called Don’t Mind Me, And Other Jewish Lies. A second little treat from Esther Cohen!