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Works of six SDJA student poets and a teacher showcased at Lawrence Family JCC

By Eileen Wingard

SAN DIEGO — For the second year, the Samuel and Rebecca Astor Judaica Library at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center hosted three evenings devoted to the works of local poets: Jewish Poets—Jewish Voices.

The second evening, February 24, featured student poets. Six seniors from the San Diego Jewish Academy, Yael Wulfovich, Amy Shoemaker, Ali Viterbi, Matthew Faraizadeh, and Itimar Lilienthal shared their poems in English and Jesse Artz, a student of Hebrew teacher Edna Yedid, read his poem in Hebrew. The SDJ Academy’s Humanities Teacher, Melissa McKinstry, accompanied her students to the poetry evening and, during the Open Microphone segment, read one of her own pieces. Those in attendance were impressed by the maturity and imagery of the young poets and their inspiring teacher.

Here are samples of the poetry heard:

Do you think the emptiness will ever disappear?
by Yael Wulfovich

Maybe the world was left unfinished,
a masterpiece lacking the one line that
allows us to move beyond
fragments of shredded incomprehensible single droplets of beauty
and form into a whole.
Maybe God was called upon by a worried angel
just as he was about to finish his work on earth
so he gave us a day of rest–Shabbat–as he sped away
looking anxiously at his watch and shouting commands at all those who listened
and he never got around to making us complete.
Perhaps his lover was dying,
or rebellion roared out in heaven
like one thousand silent screams
and God left us.
So here we are:
making war, love or anything that allows us to feel
-even for a second-
Mangoes from Peru
by Amy Shoemaker

Hold tight to those peppermint
mornings, cold like your
milk, subtle like the blueberries
in your Sunday pancakes.

Sing softly to those nectar-lit
evenings, the ones with tea candle
radiance and sweet smoking sighs.

Hail to those midnight drearies
that call sleep and cream-colored
blankets to the forefront of desire.

Ah, Rothko, forgive my once scathing
and fiery critiques. Paint me blue and
(resisting a c-section of syllables)
leave me Untitled.

I’ll close my eyes, and perhaps tomorrow
will bring mangoes from Peru.
The Song to Forgetfulness
by Ali Viterbi

Feisty, they call her, and she charges
back with the strength of a million
circles of freedom, kicking her highlighter
yellow pants behind her like hyenas.
She stalked around the room,
stringing her nine-year-old nails through
her tassled, mocha hair;
her turquoise eyes flushing a wilder
shade of naivete.
She seemed to cry: Emancipate yourself!
And, weary as I was, I shrunk
in pride and joined her song to forgetfulness,
throwing my head back,
and (falling, falling) I was given wings. 

by Matthew Farajzadeh

Rage, rage against the darkness of the night,
Against the demons that lurk in the shadows like one of Goya’s fiends.
Rage against the nightmares,
The monsters that mature in the darkest corners of your mind.

Do not go gently,
The fight is long and hard;
If you stay strong,
Nothing is impossible. 

Unsheathe your blade!
The battle begins, let not darkness take hold.
Fight hard and true, strong and bold:
Let your heart sing and your sword shine.
For the dying light,
For the fading love,
For the waning life,

Rage, rage against the darkness of the night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Lining Up
by Melissa McKinstry

This morning, early, when the sky was a fresh blue bowl
And the orange of the sun was just splashing the enamel
10 or 12 big black crows cackled in the tall eucalyptus
across the golden South Park canyon.

From my lazy purple pillow I watched them settle
Into the topmost branches and quiet themselves
For a second of anticipation.

Then, one would take the lead
And fall ferociously headfirst into the canyon.
The others would caw and clack in approval,
Lining up in their black feather suits,
Almost pushing each other out of the way
To be the next to fall until all 10 had
Performed high dives,
Collecting themselves again
To squawk and caw their way to the next perch.

All this took me back to Friday nights at Forward Thrust Pool
Where we lined up our winter-white, soft flesh
In its new pubescence of eighth grade.
Toes clutching the slippery pool deck,
New bodies silhouetting against steamy windows,
We lined up for the high dive
Anxiously cawing and cackling
And watching to see who was watching
While Chinook winds whipped wild over the Enumclaw plateau.

Lining up, always watching, waiting for the free fall,
The joy of the silence rushing into our ears.

Wingard is a freelance writer based in San Diego

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Copyright 2010 San Diego Jewish World

No Responses to “Works of six SDJA student poets and a teacher showcased at Lawrence Family JCC”

  1. I wish I could have attended one of the events! Please keep us informed as to when the next one will be!

  2. Alan King says:

    Here’s an essay about a young poet’s journey through craft and the lessons learned along the way. Please read it at


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