Pirate's Alley Faulkner SocietyWords & Music


Rodger Kamenetz



Bestselling poet and non-fiction writer Rodger Kamenetz

Author of

To Die Next To You

In a nation of lies, sometimes only fiction tells the truth.

About the Author

Rodger Kamenetz is an award-winning poet, author and teacher. Of his ten books, his best known is The Jew in the Lotus, the story of rabbis making a holy pilgrimage through India to meet with the Dalai Lama. His account of their historic dialogue became an international bestseller, prompting a reevaluation of Judaism in the light of Buddhist thought. Now in its 35th printing overall, The Jew in the Lotus is a staple of college religion courses. The New York Times called it a "revered text." A PBS documentary followed, and a sequel, Stalking Elijah, won him the National Jewish Book Award for Jewish Thought. Kamenetz's five books of poetry include The Lowercase Jew. He has been called "the most formidable of the Jewish-American poets." His memoir,Terra Infirma was described as "one of the most beautiful books ever written about a mother and a son." When The History of Last Night's Dream appeared in 2007, Oprah Winfrey interviewed him on her "Soul Series" program, saying, "What's so exciting about this book is that it talks about how there's a whole other life that we are living when we sleep and that our dreams are there as offerings and gifts to us if we only recognize what the dreams are there to teach us." Kamenetz's 2011 work Burnt Books, in Schocken/Nextbook's Jewish Encounters series, once again crosses boundaries, between literature and religion. It begins as a dual biography of Franz Kafka and Rebbe Nachman, who each asked his best friend to burn his books. It ends with Kamenetz on his own pilgrimage to Kafka's Prague and to the rebbe's grave in Ukraine.
Born in Baltimore, Rodger Kamenetz has degrees from Yale, Johns Hopkins and Stanford. At Louisiana State University, he held a dual appointment as a Professor of English and Professor of Religious Studies and founded the MFA program in creative writing and the Jewish Studies minor. He retired as LSU Distinguished Professor and Sternberg Honors Chair Professor. He lives in New Orleans where he devotes himself now to his work with clients who seek spiritual direction through dreams.

About the Work

  Illustration for To Die Next To You by Michael Hafftka

NEW BOOK COMING
Rodger's newproject is To Die Next To You, a collection of poetry illustrated by the multi-talented artist/musician/author Michael Hafftka. This new book of poetry has grown out of Rodger's ongoing dream research. The poetry collection is: To Die Next to You.The book is being published by Six Galleries Press concurrent with Words & Music. And there is more news. Rodger has turned the poems into songs with his music partner Anna Byars. The songs will be performed during Words & Music by Rodger, Michael, and Anna, along with well-known New Orleans musician and author Ben
Sandmel,
whose new book is Ernie K-Doe: The R&B Emperor of New Orleans.

OTHER POETRY

Rodger Kamenetz is the author of five books of poetry. The latest is The Lowercase Jew published by Northwestern University Press. His poems have appeared in 25 major anthologies as well as in leading periodicals including The New Republic, Tikkun, Image, Callaloo, Grand Street, Shenandoah, Exquisite Corpse, Boulevard, Pequod,Southern Review,Western Humanities Review, North American Review. He received the Readers' Choice Award in poetry from Prairie Schooner and the St. Andrews Review award in poetry. Several reviewers have commented on the grace of Kamenetz's language, a reviewer in the San Francisco Review of Books noted "his ear is as good as William Carlos Williams in the early poetry" and Yehudah Amichai that "his poems are a secret and almost intimate meeting place of English and Hebrew." Louise Erdrich adds that "Kamenetz's poems whirl and shake on the page." Another strong appeal has been his evocation of Jewish diaspora life, and Jewish religion. Writing in the Forward, Joel Lewis declared Kamenetz a "modern day Rashi" and The Missing Jew, "The ideal Baedeker for the American Jewish Diaspora." The Jerusalem Post called his recent work "stunningly powerful", and called Kamenetz "a master at infusing seemingly plain words with resonance and depth, with subtle textures and playful ironies,wonderfully open to a whole gamut of human emotions." His readings are dynamic and entertaining: he has read his poetry at the Kisufim Conference in Jerusalem, the Glen Workshop in Santa Fe, at the Prague Summer Program, the Deep South Writers conference, The Tennesee Williams Festival, the Words and Music Festival, the Spoleto Festival, and at Yale, Harvard, Tulane, NYU, and dozens of other campuses, as well as on PBS and NPR.

OTHER POETRY

Rodger Kamenetz is the author of five previous books of poetry. The latest is The Lowercase Jew published by Northwestern University Press. His poems have appeared in 25 major anthologies as well as in leading periodicals including The New Republic, Tikkun, Image, Callaloo, Grand Street, Shenandoah, Exquisite Corpse, Boulevard, Pequod,Southern Review,Western Humanities Review, North American Review. He received the Readers' Choice Award in poetry from Prairie Schooner and the St. Andrews Review award in poetry. Several reviewers have commented on the grace of Kamenetz's language, a reviewer in the San Francisco Review of Books noted "his ear is as good as William Carlos Williams in the early poetry" and Yehudah Amichai that "his poems are a secret and almost intimate meeting place of English and Hebrew." Louise Erdrich adds that "Kamenetz's poems whirl and shake on the page." Another strong appeal has been his evocation of Jewish diaspora life, and Jewish religion. Writing in the Forward, Joel Lewis declared Kamenetz a "modern day Rashi" and The Missing Jew, "The ideal Baedeker for the American Jewish Diaspora." The Jerusalem Post called his recent work "stunningly powerful", and called Kamenetz "a master at infusing seemingly plain words with resonance and depth, with subtle textures and playful ironies,wonderfully open to a whole gamut of human emotions." His readings are dynamic and entertaining: he has read his poetry at the Kisufim Conference in Jerusalem, the Glen Workshop in Santa Fe, at the Prague Summer Program, the Deep South Writers conference, The Tennesee Williams Festival, the Words and Music Festival, the Spoleto Festival, and at Yale, Harvard, Tulane, NYU, and dozens of other campuses, as well as on PBS and NPR.
Hear him read "My Holocaust" and other poems here.

NON-FICTION
Rodger Kamenetz's memoir Terra Infirma appeared first in 1985. Walker Percy called Terra Infirma "a haunting memoir, deeply felt, poignant, tragic-- funny-- powerful, and memorable for the poetic precision of its language." The New York Times found it "impressively intelligent, maturely perceptive... a strange and moving book." Philip Lopate commented: "Entirely under the spell of deep feeling, yet never relinquishing the irony of complex intelligence, this is one of the most beautiful books ever written about a mother and a son." The book was reprinted by Schocken Books in 1999 and is widely considered a classic mother-son memoir. In 1994 Kamenetz's career as a writer took a major turn with the publication of The Jew in the Lotus. This landmark international best-seller has been reprinted 35 times, most recently in an updated 2007 edition which includes an afterword by the author. It is widely used as a textbook. The Jew in the Lotus also inspired a PBS film documentary of the same title, which first aired in 1999. The book became a model for writing about the spiritual journey with humor and a sense of adventure. As BOOKLIST noted "Kamenetz defines and comments upon complex matters with skill, personableness, and a welcome dash of levity." The Jew in the Lotus has been named one of the most important books about Judaism of the past thirty years, and is widely cited in histories of religion. The New York Times called it a "revered text". His follow-up, Stalking Elijah (Harper One, 1997) received the National Jewish Book Award for Jewish Thought. 2007's The History of Last Night's Dream was called by various reviewers: "smart" "funny", "affable" audacious" "fascinating" "beautifully written" "poetic", and "revolutionary". His latest venture, Burnt Books is another groundbreaking work, a dual biography, a profound meditation on the borderland between literature and mysticism, and a spiritual pilgrimage to Kafka's Prague and the Ukraine of Rebbe Nachman. Kamenetz has received grants for his writing from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Louisiana Arts Council, the Koret Foundation and the Nathan Cummings Foundation. His essays have appeared in Grand Street, Missouri Review, Southern Review, Exquisite Corpse and The New York Times Magazine.

DREAM WORK
Rodger Kamenetz helps clients in a path of spiritual growth through dreamwork. . In weekly hour-long sessions, dreams are used to lead clients on a journey of spiritual depth. Rodger received his training from Marc Bregman, the master teacher at North of Eden and now works with clients from all over the world. If you are interested in working with Rodger, or learning more about the process, please visit his dreamwork page.

LECTURES AND READINGS
Rodger has given lectures, talks, led text study, and conducted weekend retreats and shabbatons all over North America and Europe. He has spoken at Yale, Harvard and Stanford and many other universities and colleges; at Jewish, Buddhist, Unitarian and Catholic institutions; at the 92nd Street Y, the Rabbinical Assembly, the National Hillel Conference, the National Board of Trustees for the Union of Reform Judaism; at the Prague Summer Seminars, the Chrysostom Society, and the Glen Workshops.
man of Bratslav and Franz Kafka”




Faulkner Society events are made possible in part by important support from The Arts Council of New Orleans, the City of New Orleans, and the Decentralized Arts Funding Program of The Louisiana Division of the Arts; the J. J. and Dr. Donald Dooley Fund and administrator, Samuel L. Steele, III; Bertie Deming Smith and the Deming Foundation; the Hearst Corporation and Debra Shriver, Vice President; the Law Firm of Deutsch, Kerrigan & Stiles;Dorignac's & Butch Steadman; the English Speaking Union; Rosemary James, Joseph DeSalvo and Faulkner House, Inc; Randy Fertel and The Ruth U. Fertel Foundation; Arthur & Mary Davis, Quint Davis, and Pam Friedler; Alexa Georges; the Louisiana State Museum; Elizabeth McKinley; Hotel Monteleone; Mr. & Mrs. Hartwig Moss, III; Theodosia M. Nolan, Tia and James Roddy, and Peter Tattersall; Parkside Foundation; Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre; Anne and Ron Pincus; Other Press, a Division of Random House; E. Quinn Peeper and Michael Harold; Spring: A Journal of Archetype and Culture: Nancy Cater, Editor; the State Library of Louisiana; Judith "Jude" Swenson in memory of her late husband, James Swenson.

 
Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society
624 Pirate’s Alley, New Orleans, LA 70116
phone: (504) 586-1609 or (504) 525-5615
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