Dan Bellm’s third book of poems takes as its starting point the Jewish practice of studying weekly portions of the Torah, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, in an annual cycle. Working in the midrashic tradition—imaginatively explaining or expanding a Biblical text, often well beyond its literal meaning—the poems offer meditations on faith, doubt, yearning, family ties, love and loss, and the age-old roots of modern-day war.
“Reading Dan Bellm's poems, I think: this is blessing. I think of Auden saying, ‘In the deserts of the heart / Let the healing fountain start.’ I am in awe of how Bellm’s poems perform a dance with and against Holy Scripture. And I keep coming back to his lines about ‘the way the body addresses the soul / lending it shape / lending it comfort and sorrow.’ Practice is like a long prayer of wonder, gratitude, pain and loss and tenderness." —Alicia Ostriker
“Something happened to Dan Bellm in this third book that I believe will propel him most deservingly as one of the foremost poets of his generation. Here, speaking the language of the prophets, revising it in a way that is both humble and heartbreakingly playful—remember Yeats’s ‘It is myself that I remake’?—Bellm achieves a quiet grandeur that casts a spell and does not let me be. I love Practice as a book-long sequence of parables, prayers, elegies, and incantations that are traditional and yet utterly contemporary. In assembling this formal collection, Bellm teaches us: We are living in Biblical times.” —Ilya Kaminsky