"Mermaid Esther, An Astonishing Fire”
(4 min) This poem envisions Queen Esther as a mermaid. It speaks to the journey we each make to find meaning and courage from pain and to use our own lives as a map to move forward. The mermaid metaphor is compelling because Esther belongs neither to land nor water. She is able to “pass” in the royal court but finds the courage to reveal her Jewish identity to the King and speak out on behalf of the Jewish people.
I love thinking about Queen Esther as a mermaid. Esther summons her courage to confront evil and reveal her Jewish identity to her husband, the King. To find her courage she must go deep within and revisit her oaths to herself. We each of us need to undertake this search for our “heart-home” and to find the lighthouses beaming out messages.
I chose this poem for the contrasts it contains: water and the shore, dark and light. Just as the holiday of Purim contains pain and joy, suffering and relief. Mermaid Esther breaks through the suffering, which is a “knock at the door of the heart from inside.”
The month of Adar is connected to the Hebrew word adir, meaning strength and power. Here, Esther connects to her own inner strength, which is born of pain.
It is inspiring that Kann and her collaborator Brad Cooper created this video on an iPhone.
Rachel Kann is a poet, teaching artist and facilitator. Her poetry collection How to Bless the New Moon was published by Ben Yehuda Press in 2019. She was the featured poet at the New England Jewish Poetry Festival in 2019. To learn more about her work and courses, go to: https://realizeparadise.com/ .
“Mermaid Esther, An Astonishing Fire” (Video)
*CURATOR’S CHOICE: Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival
An excerpt from “The Quickening.”
Watch the (27 min) full film here.
Rachel Kann: Poet
Brad Cooper: Director
Randy Greif: Directorial Assistant
Atom Smith: Vocal Engineer
“The Quickening” received support from: Eileen Levinson’s Custom & Craft Studio / Haggadot.com
The Bruce Geller WORD Memorial Grant through the Institute for Jewish Creativity at American Jewish University
Deborah Leipziger is a poet, author, and advisor on sustainability. Three of her poems have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Born in Brazil, Ms. Leipziger is the author of Story & Bone, forthcoming from Lily Poetry Review Books in early 2023. Her poems have been published in the UK, US, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Is...
“I call on you to remember you”
What do you think the poet means by this? How does this relate to Purim?
“You must spill forth this light
or be consumed from the inside.”
As Jews, we face both external and internal threats. Purim is a time in which we survived threats to our existence. Can these lines refer not just to Esther but to the Jewish people as a whole?
In the video there is a book which floats in the water. What book do you think this might be?
Do you see Queen Esther as a feminist role model?
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