The Kangaroo Girl
GenPop Books, 2011
Poetry, 6″x8″, 78 pages, trade paperback
Starting with a photo that spent four decades in her father’s wallet (“Photo of Author In Kangaroo Pajamas”), Judith Baumel shows us new ways of understanding family and history. In this quintessentially modern book, her third, The Kangaroo Girl detects religion at the scene of many crimes: from the great disasters of the past—Edward I’s edict of expulsion in 1290, the War Between the States, the catastrophes of twentieth century Europe—to the small calamities of Jewish American life in the ethnic neighborhoods of New York City. The Kangaroo Girl is also a personal book, a meditation on being a daughter and a mother, and, in a series of moving elegies, what it means to survive loss. Judith Baumel’s love affairs with the visual—great buildings, great paintings, great art—and with the mysteries of language in great books and great conversations combine in this testament to human inventiveness and resilience.
[A] book of rare power and beauty…. a playful nostalgia and a haunting regret…. a meditation on worlds and people lost…. Baumel’s subtle art is to pair lightness with gravity, touching on matters of mortality, faith, and history with extraordinary fluency….
Judith Baumel’s new poems are inspiring cabinets, loaded with gorgeous sounds, startling juxtapositions, and emotionally intricate quests. Sophisticated and subtle prosodic effects find their match in the poet’s intellectual alertness, her endearing inquisitiveness: her carefully modulated lines bend, hurry, linger, exult, and effloresce, with idiomatic inventiveness and grace. The Kangaroo Girl is an important achievement by a remarkable poet.