Ever wondered what would happen if you take dozens of hyper-literate Jews and give them a microphone and five minutes on a stage to riff on the weekly Torah portion? Look no further than SermonSlam, a succinctly self-described “poetry slam, but for sermons,” which will be making its New York debut at Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope on Thursday night, January 22.
“I had to make sure that she was converting for herself, and not for me,” says John Newmark. Jen says: “I fell in love with both the man and his faith.”
John, a St. Louis grant writer by day, spends much of his free time on penning science fiction and poetry. He performs at poetry slams under the stage name Gavroche. For the constructive criticism and the friendship, he has belonged for more than a decade to WUTA (Writers Under the Arch).
For the first half of her life, the woman born Adrienne Cecile Rich, in Baltimore, 1929, lived the life you would have expected. She was baptized and raised in the Episcopalian church; her father was a medical professor at Johns Hopkins; her mother a pianist and composer. Adrienne went to Radcliffe and wrote poetry. By 1950, the kingmaker of mid-century poets, W.H. Auden, helped her publish her first collection, “A Change of World,” which featured accomplished if rather dull formal English verse—punctual meters, rhymes, etc.