sam sax (who styles his name in lowercase) is a queer Jewish poet and educator. His poems, which have been published widely, address the themes of Jewish diasporic inheritance and history—both personal and collective—as well as etymology, mental health, and power. In his poems, he considers how he both possesses and is dispossessed from power as a white Jewish man with an anxiety disorder and a queer identity. His work is also deeply rooted in Jewish culture, linguistics, and storytelling. In his poetry, he gestures to the beauty of a people in perpetual motion and continuous phases of adaptation, year after year, place after place.
In “Lisp,” sax contends with the forces of heteronormativity and anti-Semitism, which seek to shame him for his identity as someone both queer and Jewish. The resources in this kit offer students multiple ways to approach sax’s poem: in the contexts of Jewish history and religion, homosexuality and queer identity, family dynamics, poetry, mental health, and popular culture.
Note: The poem includes adult content and explicit sexual references.
Cover image: sam sax reading poetry, 2015 (found on Entropy Magazine, and used with permission from sam sax).