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December 20, 2002 - Image 67

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-12-20

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poetry. In addition to her book,
Evidence to the Contrary (Plain View
Press; $12.95), Alvin's work has
been seen in highly respected jour-
nals like MacGuffin magazine,
Athelon and the Wayne State Review.
She also was poetry editor of The
Bridge magazine from 1990-2000.
Alvin, 66, was among the poets
included in the. anthology
Abandoned Automobiles, published
by Wayne State University Press in
2001, in celebration of Detroit's
300th birthday.
While Alvin loves poetry, she
acknowledges not everyone shares
her passion.
"We're the Rodney Dangerfields
Mitzi Alvin
of the arts," she said. "We don't get
any respect."
Poetry is her compulsion, Alvin said.
poetry, Alvin said, because it often
"I write to preserve time. A poem is
works "by association."
a verbal artifact, like a vase or a picture
"You say something and imply
— it's a thing made, but it's made out
something else. You have to figure out
of words."
what's between the lines," she said.
Alvin said her poems tend to have
"My work is full of puns. I like to use
strong concrete images.
a word once, but use it so the word is
"I don't like poems that are too liter- working on different levels."
al or too abstract. I see my poem as a
little drama," she said. "I write them
A Jewish Soul
for the voice. There's a certain sound
of voice that comes through that's
Unlike Tysh and Alvin, Sandy Supowit
unique to you."
is a relative newcomer to poetry. After
Alvin, a resident of Franklin, studied her book, Halves of Necessity (Plain
literature at the University of
View Press; $13.95), was published in
Michigan and earned her master's
1999, she exploded on the scene. In the
degree in literature from Wayne State
past two years, her work has been pub-
University. She is a retired school-
lished in Lilith, Midstream, Kalliope,
Oxford Magazine, Talking River Review
"Poetry is a calling, not a profession.
and the Jewish Women's Literary Annual
Nobody can earn money as a poet,"
Supowit, 53, also a retired school-
she said. "Earning money from poetry
teacher, is a member of Temple Kol
went out with working as bards for
Ami and has written poetry for the
the kings. Though maybe you have a
temple's Rosh Hashanah liturgy. She
chance if you're Bob Dylan."
also teaches a seminar called "Writing
There is a connection between the
Midrash: Giving Voice to the Unheard
twin Jewish traditions of studying the
Women of Scripture" at women's writ-
Bible and working as writers, Alvin said.
ing groups and other venues.
"The extensive reliance upon interpre-
"In my seminar, we explore our own
tation of the Bible makes a person very
relationships to Judaism and the world
conscious of words, literature and expres- by imagining the lives of the women of
sion, and of the mode of expression," she
the Bible. We expand on the story that
said. "I see myself as an ethnic Jew, but
is presented in the Bible," she said.
very bound up with my identity."
"Midrash is an explanation or develop-
Alvin is working on a new book of
ment of the Bible stories. When the
poetry she plans to call Dry Land in
ancient rabbis wrote Midrash, they
the Midst of Sea.
backed it up with verses from the
"That is a quote from Exodus, talk-
Bible. We use our own imagination.
ing about when the people crossed the
"Sometimes, we'll put biblical char-
Red Sea. My book is about escape and
acters in a contemporary setting, for
flight," she said.
instance looking at how Rachel and
"I see art as a way of escape. The
Leah would react today if they were
Jewish personality, like the artist's, is
both vying for the affections of Jacob."
always being the outsider. The escape
The poet, who lives in Commerce
is a place of grace outside of the pat-
Township, sees a close connection
tern of things."
People are sometimes stymied by
IN A LYRIC MODE on page 69

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