In 1990, the international bestseller, The Book of J, co-authored by David Rosenberg and Harold Bloom, was followed by several books of poetry and prose. A Poet’s Bible was the first biblical translation to win a major literary award and then, in 2013, A Life in a Poem began as a Guggenheim Fellowship project. Now, in this trailblazing narrative about where we are going as a species, Rosenberg shows us how he became a writer both ancient and contemporary.
The crucial Jewish poet of his time, rooted in the Hebrew of the Bible and the existential sublime of the New York School, Rosenberg has been read so far, by Jews and non-Jews, mainly for his experimental vision. Donald Hall described him as “an ancient Hebrew biblical poet as if writing today in the rhythms of the United States.” Among critics, Harold Bloom states that “the play of languages emerges in Rosenberg as it does not in King James,” while Frank Kermode wrote in the New York Times Book Review, “he must somehow be modern as well as faithful to the past, reproducing an ancient, strange, uncanny vigor, bearing in mind American poetry’s struggle with natural speech.” More recently, Adam Kirsch writes that Rosenberg is “replacing the doubtful miracle of divine inspiration with the genuine miracle of poetic inspiration,” and Oxford’s John Barton describes his work in the New York Review of Books as “neither epic nor romance nor tragedy nor comedy yet all these at once.” These words may now apply as well to Rosenberg’s innovative new memoir, A Life in a Poem.