The Next Abraham

The day after the women's march, I was blessed to be present at my grandson Abraham's bris. My step-daughter had invited me to contribute something to the ceremony, but in the days leading up to the bris I didn't have a minute to think about what I might contribute. On Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, while most of the family went to the march in NYC, I stayed at my step-daughter's house with her, baby Abe, his brother Hassan, and my wife. During a few quiet hours that afternoon, I wrote a poem for the bris. You can find the poem, "The Next Abraham," at the end of my recent post for "Good Letters," the blog published by Image Journalhttps://imagejournal.org/2017/01/30/the-next-abraham/. Enjoy!

Faith in Literature: A Festival of Contemporary Writers of the Spirit, Oct. 21-22, 2016

Faith in Literature
Festival Features Conversations for On Being

Two sold-out conversations with Krista Tippett, host of the public radio program On Being, headlined UNC Asheville’s first Faith in Literature Festival, jointly convened with the Wake Forest University School of Divinity with radio productions thanks to WCQS—Western North Carolina Public Radio. The two-day event from Oct. 21-22 brought together 14 writers of the spirit, whose work deeply engages—by embracing, complicating, or wrestling with—a faith tradition or spiritual practice. 

Rick Chess in conversation with Alicia Jo Rabins, Laurie Patton and Amy Gottlieb in the Laurel Forum.


Among those authors, poets and playwrights reading and discussing their work were poet Marilyn Nelson, a chancellor in The Academy of American Poets, and Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson, who received the 2015 National Humanities Medal from President Obama just a month before the event. 

“For many years, I’ve been dreaming of organizing an event that would bring together a group of first-rate writers who deal seriously and honestly with the spiritual and religious life,” said Rick Chess, a poet and writer who is the Roy Carroll Professor of Honors Arts and Sciences, director of the Center for Jewish Studies at UNC Asheville, and author of Third Temple. “I don’t know what it’s like for other folks who take their spiritual and religious lives seriously, but I’ve always turned to the work of poets, fiction and nonfiction writers as part of my own spiritual and artistic life. I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to feature the life of the spirit and literature in this festival.”

Conference co-organizers were Chess and Evan Gurney of UNC Asheville’s faculty, and Fred Bahnson from the Wake Forest University School of Divinity, with many partners and supporters.

Website Development

I am in the process of developing this website.  Also, because I am also learning how to work with Square Space some of the design elements may be a little messy.

Over the coming months, new material will be added. I will add info on other anthologies in which my work--poetry and prose--has been published. I will be adding and categorizing links to short essays I've written (more than 90!) for "Good Letters." 

Thanks for visiting the website, and thanks for your interest in my work.

New Book Coming in March 2017!

I'm happy to announce that my next book of poetry, Love Nailed to the Doorpost, will be published by the University of Tampa Press in March 2017--just in time for the celebration of the Center for Jewish Studies at 35 and my 25th year serving as the CJS director. From time to time between now and then, I'll post on a poem on this page. Also, I will be setting up readings for the summer and fall. Stay tuned for announcements of dates, times, and places.