of being neighbors


ISBN: 978-7-938900-39-6

Publication date: September 2021
98 pages, 7” x 9”
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Daniel Biegelson reimagines the lyric “I” as a neighborhood. Hybrids of influences and interlocutors—ranging from Julian of Norwich to Muriel Rukeyser, Sam Cooke, and Adrienne Rich—reveal the permeable borders of self, family, and nation. Biegelson’s poems throw us “back onto the shards / of questions we thought we had answered” and—among the ruins of violent prejudice, economic collapse, and ecological extinction—find in those questions a space of reinvention and potentiality.

In poetry and prose, Biegelson meditates on the complexity of Jewish identity, the responsibility of parenthood, and the experience of community and isolation in a politically polarized environment. With George Oppen’s linguistic precision and Walt Whitman’s ecstatic revelry, of being neighbors dwells where the limits of language give way to possibility, allowing us to imagine the liberatory moment when “maybe, someday, past the evening eclipse / past forgiveness… We’ll see a beach cleared of connotations—bright and ready to be returned.”


Daniel Biegelson has given us a tour de force meditation on being a self among others. It's a rich and difficult context rendered with a deep caring and brilliance that brings several strands and achievements of 20th Century poetics (especially the Objectivists) into our historical present. When we talk about the importance of art, we're talking of books like this.

John Gallaher
author of Brand New Spacesuit

Biegelson's rich collection enacts a musing and very moving contemplation-through-conversation with a wide range of neighbors in thought and feeling as disparate as Sam Cooke, Aesop, Chicken Little, and you. "Dear you," he says, and then "Dear me," and in that linguistic flip, we get a glimpse of the exceptionally attentive and complex interaction with language that drives the whole book, and drives it always toward the ineffable in both the sacred and the secular. "is there a gift without a giver," he asks. This book seems to come from there.

Cole Swensen
author of On Walking On

“These poems charge forward, bringing together the ecstatic and the intimate, while remaining grounded in erudition and ethics. Biegelson’s expansive vision is grounded in Jewish thought and Yiddishkeit, but with an outward focus. Ultimately, Biegelson wants to know how to live in human community, how to return to the commons that have been privatized out of existence. of being neighbors continuously opens up onto inquiry, rather than arriving at answers, and yet it is precisely the guide I need now.”

Jason Schneiderman
author of Hold Me Tight



Purple clematis wraps around the black mailbox.

Leaf stems curl around the thin netting. Are you 

held by the tendril of sky just outside the frame.

Heirloom marigolds bought from Mennonites

at a farmer's market bloom from shaken seed

year after year. After all this, somehow we arrived

at couplets. 'The arc of the moral universe is long,

but it bends.' 'A curve is but a straight line frightened 

by its own daring.' In my meta-heart I know I would 

marry you again. Though for all our place settings,

there is an empty seat. Forgive me for what I want

to say. When every close breath smells of milk

and feels like a betrayal of every vibrating atom. 

You see me. The uprooted trees alter the earth. Forever

and ever. And lastly the land will hold us both 

even as we cling to ourselves and break open into flower. 

 -- from “The Metaphorical Heart”




Daniel Biegelson is the author of the chapbook Only the Borrowed Light (VERSE). He serves as the Director of the Visiting Writer Series at Northwest Missouri State University, where he also works as an editor for The Laurel Review. He holds an MFA from the University of Montana, an MA from the University of Massachusetts--Amherst, hails from New Jersey and lives near Kansas City with his wife and children. Find him at danielbiegelson.com.

Cover Art by Margot de Korte.
Book design by David Wojciechowski.


“Review: On Of Being Neighbors” – The Shore

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