Schtick is a tale of Jewish assimilation and its discontents: a sweeping exposition on Jewish American culture in all its bawdy, contradictory, inventive glory. Exploring—in his own family and in culture and politics at large—how Jews have shed their minority status in the United States, poet Kevin Coval shows us a people’s transformation out of diaspora, landing on both sSchtick is a tale of Jewish assimilation and its discontents: a sweeping exposition on Jewish American culture in all its bawdy, contradictory, inventive glory. Exploring—in his own family and in culture and politics at large—how Jews have shed their minority status in the United States, poet Kevin Coval shows us a people’s transformation out of diaspora, landing on both sides of the color line....
|Number of Pages||:||232 Pages|
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It's been a while since I've read a book so far removed from my own experiences, yet so relatable. Kevin Coval proves that words still have power.
SLJ review:http://blogs.slj.com/adult4teen/2013/...COVAL, Kevin. Schtick: These Are the Poems, People. 217p. Haymarket. Apr. 2013. pap. $16. ISBN 978-1-60846-270-4. LC 2013006347.Adult/High School–From the title and cover image to the jokes about Mel Gibson, the primary mode in Coval’s collection is humor: puns and sex jokes, Don Rickles, and Barbra Streisand. Indeed, at times Coval seems positively eager not to be taken seriously, but hidden among his jokes and playful syntax is a major statement, or rather a series of statements, about how to integrate America and Judaism. In 10 sections of varying lengths, Coval manages to touch on seemingly every aspect of Jewish-American life–the family, assimilation, anti-Semitism, comedy, nose jobs, shiksas, Israel, and the relationship between blacks and Jews. That last topic, in fact, dominates, not only in length but in its integration throughout the collection, as Coval is particularly enamored of Hip Hop and makes copious allusions to rappers and songs, and use of Hip-Hop stylings. Only in the section on anti-Semitism does Coval falter, edging a bit too close to reverse-prejudice. But even here, his good humor and humanism shine through. Formally inventive and heavily allusive (in fact reliant on readers’ knowledge of at least the basics of Judaism), these poems demand serious attention, but no more than many of the modernists teens study in high school. And Coval’s poetry has the advantage of being much funnier than Eliot (though perhaps not as much fun as cummings at his finest), and is well worth the effort.–Mark Flowers, John F. Kennedy Library, Vallejo, CA
Many terms of the Judaic universe flew right over my head when reading this collection. I understood enough to be reeled in by these poems. Coval's life growing up Jewish in Chicago in the 80's and 90's, and subsequently trying to figure what it all means (meant), made for some deep, yet entertaining verse.
A reminder that great politics does not always produce great poetry. Intermittently interesting, but I wanted more depth and less cheesy wordplay.
It's been years since I read poetry but I did enjoy these poems.