WHAT’S NEW WITH M.E.
Dad. Poet. Editor. Jew. Cat Owner.
Hello and welcome to my website. I’m a Dad first and foremost, but also a poet with a writing style that combines magical realism with a narrative style, focusing on family and Jewish themes. To know me is to know the family cat.
I’m so appreciative and delighted by the positive responses my work has received. Check out some of my featured publications and other writings below, including my forthcoming project on the Holocaust.
M. E. Silverman is the author of The Floating Door (Glass Lyre Press, 2018), The Breath Before Birds Fly (ELJ Press, 2013). He also co-edited 3 anthologies: The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary American Jewish Poetry (2013), which he co-edited with Deborah Ager, 101 Jewish Poems for the Third Millennium (Ashland Poetry Press, 2021), which he co-edited with Nancy Naomi Carlson, and a forthcoming Holocaust anthology co-edited with Howard Debs. His work has appeared in over 90 journals including: Crab Orchard Review, Blood Orange Review, December, Town Creek Poetry, Chicago Quarterly Review, North Chicago Review, Battersea Review, The Naugatuck River Review, Many Mountains Moving, Hawai’i Pacific Review, The Southern Poetry Anthology, The Los Angeles Review, Pacific Review, StorySouth, I-70 Review, UCity Review, Tupelo Quarterly Review. You can also check out his (defunct) journal, Blue Lyra Review, and his poetry chapbook press, Blue Lyra Press.
THE FLOATING DOOR
cover by Tommy Ingberg
M.E. Silverman’s The Floating Door moves from the peculiar and vivid details of growing up Jewish in America to a series of musings about the last Jew in Kabul, over whom “the sun snaps shut/ like a casket.” Noah and Abraham and Isaac vie for attention in a child’s mind with schoolyard rhymes like step on a crack, break your mother’s back. A menorah takes center stage, then a Captain America glass. Throughout, there’s a daring coupling of whimsy and pathos. Shoes from the piles in the Holocaust Museum, “rise leisurely, puppets on strings” to “sweep through the air like Astaire and Rogers.” -Jacqueline Osherow
101 JEWISH POEMS FOR THE THIRD MILLENNIUM
January 1, 2021
M. E. Silverman is extremely proud and excited to share his latest co-editing anthology from Ashland Poetry Press. Co-edited with Nancy Naomi Carlson, the book focuses on poems about Jewish themes that affect people in the Third Millennium. It includes poets who are Jewish and non-Jewish, American and not, featuring poems by Ellen Bass, Ed Hirsch, Jane Hirshfield, Ilya Kaminsky, David Lehman, and many more!
"Traditional and radical, secular and holy, the poems in 101 JEWISH POEMS FOR THE THIRD MILLENIUM come to us just as we need them. The poets here celebrate a culture and caution against hatred, all the while making incredible art. Silverman and Carlson have gathered a stellar and diverse group of poets and poetic visions."—Denise Duhamel
NEW VOICES CONFRONTING THE HOLOCAUST
Instead of dealing with the Holocaust as a static historical event, and only a Jewish tragedy, the NewVoicesProject advocates a more dynamic approach with a focus on the moral lessons for all of humanity. New Voices is a combination history lesson and inquiry into humanity’s inhumanity through the arts. New Voices recognizes the international growth of xenophobia, threats to democracy, and the challenge of alternative truth enabled by social media.
There are new voices arising to ensure truth and memory are preserved. This is something to which the NewVoicesProject is dedicated. One component of the project will be the book New Voices: Contemporary Writers Confronting The Holocaust — poets, essayists, and storytellers encounter pictures and pieces of the Holocaust and respond.
"Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves"
-Henry David Thoreau
"Every angel is terrifying." -Rainer Maria Rilke"
"everyone’s Jewish sometimes"
Because I always wanted one, my father has pulled a hairless cat out of my chest. He tells me about Abraham in Hebrew the way his father taught him. I stare at the door in his lips. My ears are full of winter. I try to hear, I really do. Water presses against my body, pushes salty grime inside my mouth, my nose, every pore. It swallows the sun. Darkness soaks through me, makes me heavy & sleepy. He lifts me from the water, whispers words from the only stories he knows, says God calls Abraham to the land, gives them a child late in life, calls them chosen. A part of me knows my father is not God & cannot breathe life into something so small as me, curled like the crescent moon this city is named after. I want to tell him something important as I hear him slap & slap the animal, first soft like a clap during service’s joy, then hard like a stomp during service’s dances until a loud smack like when I’ve been bad.
Above me, mumbling close to my face, his voice is scratchy like when he sings to Muddy Waters & Louis. Everything looks foggy, sounds like gargling. He says Noah would never have saved a sinner like me. I should stop my crying, start swimming so the great river can see me & keep me from going under, down where our house & car are taken back by the Almighty. Then I hear a trumpet warming up. A hungry noise, a gator’s open-teeth snap. I breathe & breathe & obey for the love of God, the way Isaac did with his eyes closed, without murmuring, aware of the sharp steel but not what his father hears, what his father knows, yet still willing to go through the floating door.
-from The Floating Door (Glass Lyre Press)
Father loves matzah balls more than me,
more than anyone. He doesn’t pause for them
to cool, a child with his prize.
I wait for the four glasses of wine,
the bitter herbs, the tightening
of his eyes & cheeks,
his shoulders & arms,
as he tells the same stories
every year: how he sacrificed
so much to be a Dad
after his own deserted them
with the rabbi’s most buxom daughter,
how he spent his monthly ten-cent treat
on sci-fi books, the buses it took to get
out of Sheepshead Bay,
how his mother threw away issue one
of Action, now worth a quarter of a million,
because he once asked where his Dad had gone,
how he shouted out the open door
about her refusal to learn to drive,
to move from the tired bricks of Brooklyn,
to breach her routine that lasted for forty years,
the hot months he peddled down Fifth like a commandment
& up First delivering silk for tips.
So I stay seated. I
look at my hands
in my lap. We say the final diaynu.
-The Floating Door (Glass Lyre)
THE BREATH BEFORE BIRDS FLY
Cover by Mary Sneddon
Interweaving the themes of longing and family, M. E. Silverman constructs beauty in the language of each line. He focuses on the important matters of life, combing his Jewish background and upbringing. But these poems are not just for Jews. It is much more universal. Through reoccurring imagery of water and earth/mud, one gets easily swept away with mud angels, a modern day Noah shopping at Lowes, the last mermaid, hurricanes, a victim of abuse, a dybbuk mud man, a modern day Baba-Yaga, and more. We discover a part of ourselves in each and recognize the longing of those who “stand savage with all one has.” Silverman has such rich subject matter. He sees Jerusalem “ghosting with holiness.” He watches “while the soapy, silent moon / gives what slender, tired light / it can.” In Russia, an old woman sees “tress are silent / with frost, / bitter like iron chains.” At the Holocaust Memorial Museum, a “miracle” occurs as “the stacked shoes begin to rise / leisurely, like puppets on strings / [and] silently sweep through the air like Astaire and Rogers”. This is more than a chapbook; it is a dance with language.
If you are lucky
you will find your echo,
not the cartoon version,
perched on a canyon’s edge
with the empty yelling
and cheeks like apples,
but the space that extends you,
fills the void
and becomes you
the way twigs return to a tree,