Cleave, a feminine epic

Gusman, Jaimie Eve
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [December 2014]
Cleave, a feminine epic is a three part epic poem that reimagines the figure of the Shekinah, the divine presence of God in Judaism, and her exile from God's Kingdom and Earth. As the title suggests, the work in this manuscript clings to and severs from the classical heroic epic tradition in both form and content. The structure of the work, an amalgam of prose and lyric, interrupts the epic form through poetic disjunction, nonlinear narrative, and the absence of a hero. As a feminine epic, the poems challenge the masculine epic tradition by subverting androcentric ideas about heroism, heroic action, female characters, and the lyric "I." In addition to calling into question the epic as a masculine tradition, the poems also speak to a personal journey about faith. Using the Shekinah as a vehicle for inquiry, I ask questions about how a female God's presence might be different than a male God, how the soul and body are connected or disconnected by faith, and how gender might shape belief in and of a higher power. The desire to do this creative work was influenced by secular Jewish women poets Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Alicia Ostricker, and Adeena Karasick, as well as experimental poets Anne Waldman, Fannie Howe, and Alice Notley. Fueled by my background as a secular American Jew, who is fascinated with the complex relationship between practice and belief, the poems in this manuscript are representative of an ongoing spiritual journey.
Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2014.
Includes bibliographical references.
feminine epic, Shekinah, poetry, secular Jewish culture
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