Shekhinah Speaks: Poems-In-Conversation and a Conversation

June 2, 2022

In the mystical Jewish tradition, the Shehkinah refers to the imminent, feminine aspect of the divine. Dwelling with human beings but not bound by human logics of time and space, the Shehkinah is at once intimate and elusive—and often, in traditional representations, silent. Now the poet and scholar Joy Ladin has given voice to this presence in her new collection, Shekhinah Speaks. Comprised of 22 poems, one for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Ladin’s text borrows from a disparate pair of sources—the Book of Isaiah and Cosmopolitan magazine—to turn over questions of personal and spiritual significance. In celebration of the publication of Shekhinah Speaks, Ladin will be joined by the poet Chase Berggun for a reading and conversation, where they will discuss themes common to their poems, including femininities, trans embodiment, Jewish thought, and the divine.

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Joy Ladin has published ten books of poetry, including her new collection, Shekhinah Speaks (Selva Oscura Press); The Book of Anna, winner of the National Jewish Book Award; and Transmigration, a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. She is also the author of a memoir of gender transition, Through the Door of Life, which was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award, and The Soul of the Stranger: Reading God and Torah from a Transgender Perspective, a finalist for the Lambda Literary Awards and the Triangle Award. Ladin has received fellowships and scholarships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fulbright Foundation, and the American Council of Learned Societies Research, among other honors. A nationally recognized speaker on transgender issues, she convenes an online conversation series, “Containing Multitudes,” which is available at Her writing is available at

Chase Berggrun is a trans woman poet and the author of R E D (Birds, LLC, 2018). Her poems and essays have appeared in The Nation, Poetry Magazine, American Poetry Review, and elsewhere. She lives in New York City.