Love, Inshallah reviews a beautiful collection of poetry from poet, mother and rabbi, Rachel Barenblat. In her fourth poetry collection, Waiting To Unfold (April 2013, Phoenicia Publishing), Rabbi Barenblat documents her pregnancy and the first year of her son’s life through her powerful voice, unfurling the jubilations and challenges of motherhood.
A perfect Mother’s Day gift – purchase your copy, here!
Love, Inshallah (LA): You are a writer, a poet, and a Velveteen Rabbi. Tell us a little bit about the link between creativity and a woman’s spirituality. Why is it important to write/speak/create art?
Rachel Barenblat (RB): For me, creativity is a tremendous spiritual gift. I’ve learned over the years that I am most spiritually healthy when I’m creating, which usually means writing poems. Having a regular writing practice gives me a creative outlet. And having a regular prayer practice gives me a spiritual outlet, too.
Some years ago, in my early 30s, I suffered from a few strokes, and the way I made it through that adventure (which was scary and unfamiliar) was through writing poems, and through working with my spiritual director on the spiritual qualities I needed most. For me, the two — writing and spiritual life — are deeply interconnected.
Jewish tradition says that God spoke the world into being, and that God continues to speak the world into being now. There’s a connection between words and creation, between words and life. When I write poems, I feel as though I’m connected with God — my words also create worlds, though on a much smaller scale! And when I became a mother, I felt a new kind of connection with God as the Parent of all creation.
(They will be) on couches inlaid
Reclining on them, facing each other
Round about them (serving), eternal boys
With goblets, beakers, and cups (filled) from
No after-ache will they receive therefrom,
nor will they suffer intoxication
And with fruits that they may select
And the meat of fowls, any that they may desire
And Companions with beautiful,
big, and lustrous eyes,
Like unto pearls, well-guarded.
-Quran: Al-Waqiah, 15-23 *
One of the most wonderful and talented women we know, American Muslim author G. Willow Wilson’s fantastic novel ‘Alif the Unseen‘ has been selected by The New York Times as one of the 100 notable books of 2012! If you haven’t read it yet, please get it today – it ranks up there with our favorite books of ALL time.
‘Alif the Unseen’ also made the Washington Post Top 50 Books of 2012 list and the Booklist Top 10 Debut Novels of 2012 list, and has been shortlisted for the 2012 Flaherty-Dunnan Award. Alif mabrook, dear Willow!