Word from the Wild West Coast

June 3, 2015 Leave a comment

It’s been awhile since the last update! Woa. Lots happened. Firstly, I’m teaching at Kehillah HS in Palo Alto, which I love doing. I’m teaching creative writing, modern and post-modern lit, and Jewish studies. It’s a sweet gig.

Performance-wise, the most memorable recent gig was at Kelly’s Writers House at UPenn. The gig is up on my PennSound page, along with some other stuff, some more recent, and some older.

Current Musicology published a set of my Nign poems, which you can also read on Jerome Rothenberg’s blog, Poems and Poetics.

I also had a few articles out, including this piece on David Antin, and another on David Meltzer, both for Tablet. I had my first piece in Chicago Tribune, as well.


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Gigs Ahead

June 2, 2014 Leave a comment

We’re moving West – and so, Monday June 23rd I’m playing my last gig on the East Coast. I’ll be gigging with inimitable Frank London, Greg Wall, Eyal Maoz and Uri Sharlin on the roof of the JCC of the UWS. All ticketing info is here: http://www.jccmanhattan.org/evening-classes?page=cat-content&progid=29727.

And of course, KlezKanada’s annual Jewish Poetry retreat is happening again this August in the Laurentians. We got a tremendous program planned. Check it out here: http://klezkanada.org/poetry-retreat/

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Mar ’14: New Poems in the Forward

March 6, 2014 Leave a comment

A few new poems in the Forward! everwhere, Medievaluation Rag, Like Water Off the Goose, and One Year Plan.



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Feb ’14 Updates: Gig, Videos, Publications, and More!

February 9, 2014 Comments off

Hey friends!

A few things on the radar. Firstly, I’ve got a gig coming up with NY Klezmer Series, with very awesome crew: Frank London, Greg Wall, Eyal Maoz, and Uri Sharlin, on Tue Feb 25th at 7.30pm at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, 30 W. 68th St. All info.

Couple of videos from Hermeneutic Stomp CD release party:

Painters’ Nigun:




Klezmer Bulldog:


I also wanted to share this article, which I wrote for Tablet magazine on Amiri Baraka’s passing. I’ve got to say that nothing I’ve ever written, or done, has gotten quite as much response.

Also a new-ish poem, “One Year Plan” in the Forward.

The biggest bit of news in my bag: my family has radically expanded to include a precious little person, our daughter Ora.

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November 4, 2013 Leave a comment


on my 34th birthday
stayed in the house all day
my son, sick, asleep – held him on the couch
tore myself from the book for a moment
to look at him
“should do THAT more often”
same virus that got him coursing through my system
my wife, asleep next to us, propping
her big pregnant belly on the pillows
-back to the book,
floated in and out of my body, as Ginsberg
had it, “a new kind of Jewish Yoga”
what went wrong with the garbage
disposal? our new sink full, stagnant, ill-smelling
like some domesticated overgrown pond
       was shabbos
so we rested
when it ended and Lev went to his crib
I took out my new wrench, stuck it up the insinkerator
shaking stiffly then more vigorously, though still skeptical
I know nothing of objects that surround me
something gave way –
like a little self-imploding tornado the water swirled,
went down with all the gook, soap,
if not cleansing – maybe, emptying –

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Hermeneutic Stomp! CD-Release Party!

September 30, 2013 Leave a comment

-1 Massive news! “Hermeneutic Stomp,” my full-length album of poetry-and-music was released from the Blue Thread Records (Jewish Currents) on October 14th. The album features luminaries of avant-jazz-klez Frank London, Greg Wall, Uri Sharlin, and Eyal Maoz.

Combining music, poetry, and improvisation, Hermeneutic Stomp exemplifies Blue Thread’s goal of radical and profound engagement with Jewish heritage. Riffing on Talmudic forms and cadences, chasidic chants, and midrashic innuendos, the CD is also firmly rooted in the American avant-garde tradition.

George Robinson’s review for the Jewish Week here.

See Eyal Reuveni’s AllAboutJazz review here.

Menachem Feuer’s insightful analysis here and here.

And, Matthue Roth’s Jewniverse review here.

To order a copy of the record, see: http://jewishcurrents.org/jake-marmers-hermeneutic-stomp-blue-thread-music-21182.

Check out Mishnah of Loneliness track along with notes on methodology on Jacket2.

And, 3 AM Nigun in the Moment Magazine.


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KlezKanada 2013!!

April 8, 2013 Leave a comment

We’re doing it again – North’s America’s first Jewish poetry retreat – a week-long poetry gathering as part of the KlezKanada Festival, Aug 19-25. I’m honored to be collaborating with fabulous Adeena Karasick on this – and KlezKanada is one of hippest music/culture festivals out there, now in its 18th year!

There’re some scholarships available for folks under 35 (or under 35 in spirit) – deadline May 1st.

Here’s all the info –

KlezKanada’s Poetry Retreat (Three Millennia of Poetic subversion)

August 19-25, 2013

Seminars and Master Classes will be led by Minister of Semiotic Turbulence, Canadian poet and professor Adeena Karasick, and Chief of the Discordant Talmudic Crisis, poet and performer Jake Marmer. Sessions will include a combination of lectures, discussions, one-on-one faculty time, and solo writing time. A portion of each morning will focus on creating a polyvocal performance that will be showcased at the end of the week.

Workshops with Adeena and Jake:

Tuesday: Can Poems Be Jewish? Identity, Rituals, Rebellions and Vernaculars
This session will focus on what formal qualities or processes play a part in Jewish writing –Is it using overt Jewish themes? Its lexicon? Or is it about the way its written, its structure, form; its humor? The disruptions? The questions? Dialectics? Its obsessions? Over-thinking? The Music? This session will not so much as provide answers but open up the field of relations between writing and culture. Participants will be urged to write through the sonic environment of KlezKanada; and compose in immediate reaction to the music, viscerally experiencing the direct relationship of music and writing.

Wednesday: Found poetry: Poetics of Klezmer – Remixing your World
Focusing on how Conceptual Writing is a practice not so much of creation but re-formation, formed not ex-nihilo (out of nothing), but yesh m’yesh (“something from something”), we will traverse the campground – and our own minds – collecting scraps of conversations, rhythms, sounds as the landscape of new, circuitous meaning, graphically layered and intralingual text as a means of ever-expansive literary expression. We will practice spontaneous poetics and Jack Kerouac’s technique of “sketching”.

Thursday: Dialog & Rants: Talmudic and Hermeneutic Techniques
Focusing on both form and content, we will look at some of the ways we can use such texts as the Talmud for poetic inspiration. You want arguments? You want multiple people speaking from within a single poem? Laws referring to ethereal matters that have never existed, and loopholes created out of them? It’s all there for you. Secondarily, this session will show how cultural ancestry manifests through contemporary semiotic practice. With Darshening, we will focus on the necessity for continued active interpretation; the glee of compulsive thinking; highlighting that to be a good writer is to be a wild reader; and will encourage a continued dialogue with various texts in order to appreciate the infinite possibilities available with every letter, phrase, textured inscription.

Friday: Transcendence and Transience: Poetry as Spiritual Experience
Many poets – religiously observant or profoundly skeptical or self-proclaimed heretical – will tell you that writing is their chief access to what can loosely be termed as “spiritual experience”. Something about writing, the process itself that engenders the experience; a feeling of trance comes on; words that get unearthed feel as if not belonging to us, but something larger, unnamable. We will explore this experience, and capitalize on it, from various angles, focusing, among other things on various means of prophetic divination through letters, Kabbalistic meditations or Gematriatic methodologies, shamanistic technologies of the sacred, ecstatic writing, automatic writing, Oulippean techniques of seeking new structures and patterns — the profound way texts can become a source of visionary inspiration and cause us to see the world in a new way. Using both ancestral techniques of transposition, recombination, cut-ups and mash-ups intersection and juxtaposition, this session is dedicated to getting ourselves out of our own rutted ways of thinking and re-creating the world through language.

Throughout the week, participants will have the opportunity to engage in both a solo and multi-vocal performance, which we will prepare for during the Festival. Time in each session will be devoted to oral-based performance techniques. Additionally, workshop participants will be able to make their own chapbook from the work created over the week. Supplies will be provided.

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