‘Going nowhere’: movement and dislocation in Shirley Kaufman’s poetry

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The themes of dislocation, transition, and motion run like a scarlet thread throughout Shirley Kaufman’s poetry. Born in Seattle (1923-2016) to a family of immigrants, she subsequently moved to San Francisco, Jerusalem, and back to the US. As an American-Israeli poetess, she described herself as ‘hyphenated,’ adding in an interview with G. Levin: ‘I felt all along that I’m living between two cultures, two languages, two identities. … in the space between two worlds, which is what my poetry is about’ Framing her existential condition in terms of ‘running back and forth,’ in her essay ‘Roots in the Air,’ Kaufman positions herself in eternal movement–a stance that many of the themes, images, and metaphors she employs reflect. In this article, I focus on these two central aspects of Kaufman’s poetry–her thematic usage of spatiality and movement and the way in which this functions in her metaphorical world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1709-1727
Number of pages19
JournalTextual Practice
Issue number10
Early online date21 Mar 2019
StatePublished - 2 Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

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© 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Shirley Kaufman
  • dislocation
  • movement
  • poetry


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