On Bearing the Hunger Whole

If anyone out there knows anything about Barbara Naftali Meyers, please drop me a line.

I found what I think is her one and only book in the poetry section of a rare and used book store in downtown Tampa three days after Christmas. I had really just walked in to browse, and I almost never buy poetry anthologies, but (at the risk of sounding dramatic or pretentious, and I’ll go ahead and allow you an eye-roll) I felt an immediate connection to Bearing the Hunger Whole.

Bearing the Hunger Whole, The Nut Tree Press (1986)
Bearing the Hunger Whole, The Nut Tree Press (1986)

There was a time in my life when I dissected verses and pored over song lyrics and just really, really cared about poetry. I still find myself moved every now and then by a poem, but most of the time I’ll crack open an anthology and the writing will feel more removed. Not because the work is inaccessible, but because I’m out of touch. Like I haven’t worked those muscles in a while and I’m remarkably out of shape.

But then I flipped to this page and it felt like Meyers was speaking to me directly with these two poems.

See Black/Poetry

I’ve talked a lot about the importance of giving oneself permission to be bad in writing (and Zumba). First drafts are bad. But, we need them. We have to embrace them and accept them for what they are. We need them to get to the less crappy second draft, the better third draft, the nearly final eighth draft… We need to show them to the people we trust so we can receive honest and helpful feedback. Crappy first drafts – pass them out like bread!

And “See Black.” I feel like there’s so much here. But what rises to the surface is clear instruction to be honest and present and to recognize the role you play in the universe.

Of course, all poetry is up for interpretation and we human beings will see and hear the messages we want and need to receive at any given time. Perhaps Meyers had other themes in mind. Maybe she’s not my soul sister in verse.

Based on my internet research findings, Bearing the Hunger Whole is Meyers’s only published book of poems. I can’t find any articles or poetry sites that reference her or her work. And according to the half-page bio on the last page, she died in 1982, long before the age author blogs and twitter accounts. It’s feels strange (and a little unfair) that all I’ll ever know about this author starts and ends with one book.

So, my question remains: Anyone know anything about the life and work of Barbara Naftali Meyers?

If not, Did you ever pick up a book and feel an immediate connection?