Two Worlds Exist
poems by Yehoshua November
Finalist for the 2017 Paterson Poetry Prize
Finalist for the 2016 National Jewish Book Award in Poetry
76 pp. / $16.00
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Publication Date: November 1, 2016
A poem from Two Worlds Exist was recently featured
in The New York Times Magazine !
Yehoshua November’s second poetry collection, Two Worlds Exist, quietly considers the harmonies and dissonances involved in practicing an ancient religious tradition in contemporary America. November’s beautiful and profound meditations on work and family life, and the intersections of the sacred and the secular, invite the reader—regardless of background—to imaginatively inhabit a life of religious devotion in the midst of our society’s commotion.
PRAISE FOR TWO WORLDS EXIST
“November inspires, welcomes, surprises, enriches, wrestles and consoles in these poems that matter.”
–THE NEW YORK JEWISH WEEK
“Each [poem] nearly bursts from its taut parameters, aching with sorrow and reverence, stitched with humility, love and pain, pulsing with passions both earthly and divine. […] [November] allows a radiant spiritual light to shine through deeply human fissures.”
–THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE
-ELIE LICHTSCHEIN, The Jewish Book Council
“[November] looks at the world around him, at the world within himself, and proceeds to tell a story about human fragility, and by association, divine fragility. [. . .] The poet then turns from the worldly to the mystical realm. [. . .] The strength of his poetry lies to a great extent in the way he navigates both realms with such quiet command.”
-ROBERT HIRSCHFIELD, The Jerusalem Report
“The divisions between secular culture (poetry, literature) and Jewish tradition (liturgy, ritual), interactions with God and interactions with mankind, and the mystical spheres of heaven and life on earth are all cardinal directions on a greater compass, imbuing November’s personal recollections with conceptual weight. […] [Two Worlds Exist] is an urgent wrestling match played out on the page between opposing axes.”
-EMILY JAEGER, Salamander
“These poems are like a documentary film—close to life, narrating episodes from everyday life (many of them happening within the Chassidic community). But under the skin of these poems a flame of passion—or compassion—is hidden. Hidden and palpable at the same time. That’s how Yehoshua November creates such beautiful surprises for his readers.”
“I have read these beautiful poems many times over. Each time I find something new and wonderful and deeper and more spiritual therein. Two Worlds Exist is an even stronger book than November’s first collection. So full of sorrow and humility and reverence, love and pain and the actual stuff of our lives—the guilt of the small cruelties we inflict; the large cruelties life inflicts; wavering and unwavering faith that there is something greater than ourselves behind it all.”
“Yehoshua November’s poems are deeply felt, carefully crafted, insightful, and moving. While contemporary American literary culture tends to view ‘religious’ and ‘literary’ values in opposition, November’s poetry brilliantly bridges this divide. He writes with tenderness, understanding, and disarming modesty; at the same time, his characteristic subjects—the challenges posed by married life, child rearing, and suffering, both physical and spiritual—are among the great subjects of literature and life.”
SAMPLE FROM THE BOOK
The Soul in a Body
is like an old Russian immigrant
looking out his apartment’s only window.
Yes, yes, he says.
The landlord printed my name in block letters
on the lobby directory
has been forwarded to this address.
But I am not from here. I am not
from here at all.
from City of Modern Jews
I would like to rise up
in the middle of the life I’ve lived
until now. Like Abraham
circumcising himself at 99 years old,
as if everything he’d accomplished
had been forgotten.
copyright © 2016 by Yehoshua November, from Two Worlds Exist (Orison Books, 2016)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Yehoshua November’s first poetry collection, God’s Optimism, won the Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award and was a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize. November’s poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, The Sun, Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Writer’s Almanac. He teaches at Rutgers University and Touro College and lives in Teaneck, NJ with his wife and children.