CONTACTS

For lectures, contact  lectures(at)kamenetz.com

For dream work contact  dreams (at) kamenetz.com

You can visit Rodger on Facebook at Rodger Kamenetz FB page

You can find him on Twitter at Jewinthelotus

BIOGRAPHY

Rodger Kamenetz is an award-winning poet, author and teacher. Of his eleven books, his best known is The Jew in the Lotus, the story of rabbis making a holy pilgrimage through India to meet with the Dalai Lama. His account of their historic dialogue became an international bestseller, prompting a reevaluation of Judaism in the light of Buddhist thought. Now in its twentieth year of publication and its 35th printing overall, The Jew in the Lotus is a staple of college religion courses. The New York Times called it a "revered text." A PBS documentary followed, and a sequel, Stalking Elijah, won him the National Jewish Book Award for Jewish Thought.

Kamenetz's six books of poetry include To Die Next To You and The Lowercase Jew. He has been called "the most formidable of the Jewish-American poets." His memoir, Terra Infirma was described as "one of the most beautiful books ever written about a mother and a son."

When The History of Last Night's Dream appeared in 2007, Oprah Winfrey interviewed him on her "Soul Series" program, saying, "What's so exciting about this book is that it talks about how there's a whole other life that we are living when we sleep and that our dreams are there as offerings and gifts to us if we only recognize what the dreams are there to teach us."

Kamenetz's latest work of non-fiction 2010's Burnt Books, in Schocken/Nextbook's Jewish Encounters series, once again crosses boundaries, between literature and religion. It begins as a dual biography of Franz Kafka and Rebbe Nachman, who each asked his best friend to burn his books. It ends with Kamenetz on his own pilgrimage to Kafka's Prague and to the rebbe's grave in Ukraine.

Born in Baltimore, Rodger Kamenetz has degrees from Yale, Johns Hopkins and Stanford. At Louisiana State University, he held a dual appointment as a Professor of English and Professor of Religious Studies and founded the MFA program in creative writing and the Jewish Studies minor. He retired as LSU Distinguished Professor and Sternberg Honors Chair Professor. He lives in New Orleans where he devotes himself now to his work with clients who seek spiritual direction through dreams.

NON-FICTION WRITING CAREER

Rodger Kamenetz's memoir Terra Infirma appeared first in 1985. Walker Percy called Terra Infirma "a haunting memoir, deeply felt, poignant, tragic-- funny-- powerful, and memorable for the poetic precision of its language." The New York Times found it "impressively intelligent, maturely perceptive... a strange and moving book." Philip Lopate commented: "Entirely under the spell of deep feeling, yet never relinquishing the irony of complex intelligence, this is one of the most beautiful books ever written about a mother and a son." The book was reprinted by Schocken Books in 1999 and is widely considered a classic mother-son memoir. In 1994 Kamenetz's career as a writer took a major turn with the publication of The Jew in the Lotus. This landmark international best-seller has been reprinted 35 times, most recently in an updated 2007 edition which includes an afterword by the author. It is widely used as a textbook. The Jew in the Lotus also inspired a PBS film documentary of the same title, which first aired in 1999. The book became a model for writing about the spiritual journey with humor and a sense of adventure. As BOOKLIST noted "Kamenetz defines and comments upon complex matters with skill, personableness, and a welcome dash of levity." The Jew in the Lotus has been named one of the most important books about Judaism of the past thirty years, and is widely cited in histories of religion. The New York Times called it a "revered text". His follow-up, Stalking Elijah (Harper One, 1997) received the National Jewish Book Award for Jewish Thought. 2007's The History of Last Night's Dream was called by various reviewers: "smart" "funny", "affable" audacious" "fascinating" "beautifully written" "poetic", and "revolutionary". His most recent venture in prose Burnt Books is another groundbreaking work, a dual biography, a profound meditation on the borderland between literature and mysticism, and a spiritual pilgrimage to Kafka's Prague and the Ukraine of Rebbe Nachman. Kamenetz has received grants for his writing from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Louisiana Arts Council, the Koret Foundation and the Nathan Cummings Foundation. His essays have appeared in Grand Street, Missouri Review, Southern Review, Exquisite Corpse and The New York Times Magazine.

POETRY

Rodger Kamenetz is the author of six books of poetry. The most recent are To Die Next To You (Six Gallery Press, 2013) and The Lowercase Jew published by Northwestern University Press. His poems have appeared in 25 major anthologies as well as in leading periodicals including The New Republic, Tikkun, Image, Callaloo, Grand Street, Shenandoah, Exquisite Corpse, Boulevard, Pequod,Southern Review,Western Humanities Review, North American Review. He received the Readers' Choice Award in poetry from Prairie Schooner and the St. Andrews Review award in poetry. Several reviewers have commented on the grace of Kamenetz's language, a reviewer in the San Francisco Review of Books noted "his ear is as good as William Carlos Williams in the early poetry" and Yehudah Amichai that "his poems are a secret and almost intimate meeting place of English and Hebrew." Louise Erdrich adds that "Kamenetz's poems whirl and shake on the page." Another strong appeal has been his evocation of Jewish diaspora life, and Jewish religion. Writing in the Forward, Joel Lewis declared Kamenetz a "modern day Rashi" and The Missing Jew, "The ideal Baedeker for the American Jewish Diaspora." The Jerusalem Post called his recent work "stunningly powerful", and called Kamenetz "a master at infusing seemingly plain words with resonance and depth, with subtle textures and playful ironies,wonderfully open to a whole gamut of human emotions." His readings are dynamic and entertaining: he has read his poetry at the Kisufim Conference in Jerusalem, the Glen Workshop in Santa Fe, at the Prague Summer Program, the Deep South Writers conference, The Tennesee Williams Festival, the Words and Music Festival, the Spoleto Festival, and at Yale, Harvard, Tulane, NYU, and dozens of other campuses, as well as on PBS and NPR.

Hear him read "My Holocaust" and other poems here.

DREAM WORK

Rodger Kamenetz helps clients in a path of spiritual growth through dreamwork. . In a series of hour-long sessions, dreams are used to lead clients on a journey of spiritual depth. Rodger has been working with dream clients one on one since 2002. If you are interested in working with Rodger, or learning more about the process, please visit his dreamwork page. You may contact him at   dream@kamenetz.com

LECTURES AND READINGS

Rodger has given lectures, talks, led text study, and conducted weekend retreats and shabbatons all over North America and Europe.

He has spoken at Yale, Harvard and Stanford and many other universities and colleges; at Jewish, Buddhist, Unitarian and Catholic institutions; at the 92nd Street Y, the Rabbinical Assembly, the National Hillel Conference, the National Board of Trustees for the Union of Reform Judaism; at the Prague Summer Seminars, the Chrysostom Society, the Glen Workshops, and the Sivananda Ashram in the Bahamas.

He gives formal lectures, informal talks, seminars, poetry readings, and leads text study.

A list of his current topics follows.

  • “What  I Learned About Judaism From the Dalai Lama”
  • “Buddhist Questions and Jewish Answers”
  • “Dreams and the Journey of the Soul”
  • “The Three Gifts of the Dream”
  • “What if Jacob Forgot the Dream of the Ladder?
  • “The Case of the Disappearing Dream: The Rabbis, the Church Fathers, Freud and Jung”
  • “ Burnt Books: Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav and Franz Kafka”
  • “ Dreams and Poetry”

If you are sincerely interested in having Rodger speak to your group, please send for details, dates, and fees at lectures@kamenetz.com

 

Literary agent for Rodger Kamenetz:

Katinka Matson
Brockman, Inc.
rights@brockman.com