publication date: April 18th, 2023

Poems by Richard Michelson

Published by Slant Books.

Order an autographed copy of this book

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.


“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

“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.

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

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.”

Past Events

Wednesday April 19– Virtual Book Launch 8 PM (EST) Poetry Reading/Discussion with Slant Books editor Gregory Wolfe. Register here.

Sunday April 23– 4 PM Publication Party and Poetry Reading with Martin Espada and Paul Mariani. At R. Michelson Galleries, register here.

Tuesday April 25– 7 PM Poetry Reading (Zoom ) On the Seawall– Featured Reader (link will be available April 25th)

Sunday May 7– 12:30 PM Jewish Poets of Western MA – with Joy Ladin and Jena Schwartz, Massachusetts Poetry Festival, Salem MA

Saturday May 20– 2PM Voices of Poetry with Howie Faerstein, Martha Mccollough, Suzanne Rancourt, Anthony Walton at Forbes Library

Sunday, May 21 – 1 PM (EDT) (Zoom) Orange County Community Scholar Program in conversation with Rich Michelson. Register and read more here.