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Lindsay Lusby

Lindsay Lusby

A poet, essayist, and translator, Aviya Kushner teaches both creative writing and translation at Columbia College Chicago and writes a language column for The Forward. She is the author of The Grammar of God: A Journey into the Words and Worlds of the Bible (Spiegel & Grau), as well as the chapbook Eve and All the Wrong Men from Dancing Girl Press.

Lindsay Lusby’s debut poetry collection Catechesis: a postpastoral (2019) won the 2018 Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize from The University of Utah Press, judged by Kimiko Hahn. The author of two previous chapbooks, her poems have appeared most recently in Gulf Coast, The Cincinnati Review, Passages North, The Account, and North Dakota Quarterly.

Lindsay Lusby reviews "Eve and All the Wrong Men" by Aviya Kushner

Eve and All the Wrong Men
Eve and All the Wrong Men
by Aviya Kushner

pages
Dancing Girl Press

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A poet, essayist, and translator, Aviya Kushner's first book The Grammar of God: A Journey into the Words and Worlds of the Bible, tackles a comparative reading of the Bible across languages: in Hebrew and in English. With her new chapbook of poems, Eve and All the Wrong Men from Dancing Girl Press, she returns again to this holy text and rewrites the story of Adam and Eve in the language of feminist dissent.


"You have no idea what happens / when you make one creature out of another" (5). So this chapbook opens with the idea of Eve as a kind of bride of Frankenstein, a monster made only to solve the problem of Adam's loneliness. But this is only her beginning, her creation myth. In Aviya Kushner's Eve and All the Wrong Men, we follow Eve from poem to poem as she asks all the right questions: Is a woman's identity defined entirely by the men around her and their intentions for her? Her appetite for them? Or is there a life to be had entirely removed from men?

Possessed by her own desires (but with a critical eye), she wanders alone through a landscape of so many wrong men looking for a cure to their loneliness and the women who have found contentment in solitude. With simple, precise language, Kushner describes a longing that neither of these can satisfy: "with one look I am / connected to earth, / and with another / look I am not" (6). But maybe that is because this has always been a threesome—Eve, the wrong man, and God. Because someone is always left out in a love triangle—someone is always loved less.

As "a renovation, a remodeling / of an earlier thought" (5), Eve is a revised version of Adam—an improvement, a better design. Her voice within the poems—Eve's, Kushner's—is of a quiet kind of defiance, both bold and vulnerable. She observes her world with wonder, but there remains that unscratchable itch driving her both outward and inward.

Aviya Kushner's chapbook collapses the millennia between Genesis and the twenty-first century; and, in doing so, shows us how much has not changed in the experiences of women in all that time. Our loneliness—"wide as the Pacific" (27)—always pulls us, like a refrain, back to water, where some idea of God or love or self looms like an all-encompassing fog.

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