SLEEPING AS FAST AS I CAN
publication date: April 18th, 2023
Poems by Richard Michelson
Published by Slant Books.
With the rise of anti-Semitism, extremism, political polarization, mass shootings, the fraying of Black-Jewish-Asian alliances, and the loss of personal connections during the age of Covid, where is God, and how can we find the joy and wonder in our lives? How do we come to terms with loss? How can art and language help us to cope with life and honor the dead? How does one act responsibly in a world that is at once beautiful and full of suffering-balanced precariously on the edge of despair and ruin?
With humor, anger, and tenderness, Richard Michelson’s poems explore the boundaries between the personal and the political-and the deep connections between history and memory.
Sleeping as Fast as I Can, examines racism and antisemitism, the tragedies of history and the present… [Michelson’s] work reflects a deep concern for religion, familial love, and the music of poetry — even if these things are inadequate responses to the cruelties of the world….Yet he eschews both bitterness and archness… Michelson possesses an imagination that is, ultimately, generous and gentle. Jewish Book Council
Richard Michelson has a profound grasp of Jewish history, of antisemitism and pogroms, of moral teachings and midrash, of sinner and prophets. ..[Michelson’s] is an indispensable Jewish voice in this generation. Jerusalem Post
His poetry is ringed with the halo of a thousand questions that grief will not answer. Perhaps in one thousand years, like (the Biblical prophet) Ezra’s poetry , we will return to Michelson’s poems for solace… Michelson’s real gift is transmitting the decency of concern—A Writer’s World with Shaun Griffin (Audio)
Let us be grateful for Richard Michelson’s thoughtful, sometimes playful, lovingly crafted poems… Poetry as Memoir and More by Peggy Rosenthal
The triumph of Michelson’s collection is that…throughout, the poet wrestles between the sanity of love and the madness of rage—an ambivalence that makes Sleeping as Fast as I Can a deeply important, deeply American book. History and Fear: A Review of Reading as Fast as I Can by Kylan Rice
Where Michelson is writing from is a very old place that has outlasted numerous so-called civilizations. Moral ground is like that. On Moral Grounds by Baron Wormser
Richard Michelson walks among the angels in his new book of poetry. Martha’s Vineyard Times
A high-spirited romp with language and a tough spiritual struggle with suffering. Finishing this book, I turned right around and started over-it was that rich, that good. -Alicia Ostriker, author of Waiting for the Light and The Volcano and After
Sleeping as Fast as I Can is a book where prayers are filled with history, and history is filled with the urgency of the present; a book that isn’t afraid of tragedy because it holds music as a shield. -Ilya Kaminsky, author of Deaf Republic and Dancing in Odessa
With clarity and wit Michelson touches deep into pain. But then come the words of blessing in the midst of the dark that understands ‘Light is our only future.’ -Rodger Kamenetz, author of The Missing Jew: Poems 1976-2022
Sleeping as Fast as I Can brings prayers, rants, memoria, and rage against hatred, violence, racism, and anti-Semitism in a bitches brew of language on every page. This is a powerful collection deserving a wide and diverse readership. -Patricia Spears Jones, author of A Lucent Fire: New and Selected Poems
Read Religion, Death, Humor: Q&A with poet Richard Michelson, from Slant Books
Listen to For the Love of Judaism, an interview with Rabbi Pont and Richard Michelson.
Richard Michelson at the 2023 Brattleboro Literary Festival
Below is a tribute to my father, read by the actor Raye Birk, with photographs by my friend Martin Espada’s father, Frank Espada, of our old neighborhood.
Below is a poem lamenting the never ending cycle of gun violence, read by the actor Jay O. Sanders.
Rich Michelson discusses his newest collection of poetry, Sleeping As Fast As I Can. To learn more and register for the book launch (on April 19th, at 8pm EST) visit bit.ly/41P345B
Richard speaks with Arie Katz on the Community Scholar Program. “…it is Michelson’s sense of humor and acute awareness of Jewish history, with its ancient emphasis on the fundamental worth of human existence, that makes this accessible book, finally, celebratory and life-affirming.”
Read Poems from Sleeping as Fast as I Can:
Is it Good For the Jews?: from Tikkun
Angels with Guns Guarding the Gates of Heaven: from Vox Populi
Richard Michelson: Three Poems: from Vox Populi
Bless You: from the Hopkins Review
Envisioning the Life, Post-Parole, of my Father’s Murderer: from Solstice Magazine
“Maybe the Messiah”: from On the Seawall