Aviya Kushner grew up in a Hebrew-speaking home in New York. For as long as she can remember, she has been fascinated by language, culture, and belief.

photo by Danielle Aquiline


Her debut poetry collection, WOLF LAMB BOMB, a conversation with The Book of Isaiah, was named a New and Noteworthy book by The New York Times. It is the winner of the 2021 Chicago Review of Books Award in Poetry and is a Chicago Reader Best Chicago Books of 2021 selection.

Her first nonfiction book, The Grammar of God: A Journey Into the Words and Worlds of the Bible (Spiegel & Grau/ Penguin Random House), is about the intense experience of reading the Bible in English after an entire life of reading it in Hebrew. 

The Grammar of God was a National Jewish Book Award finalist, a Sami Rohr Prize finalist, one of Publishers’ Weekly’s Top 10 Religion Stories of 2015, and a National Jewish Book Club pick for 2018-19.

She is The Forward’s language columnist. Her writing has also appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Wilson Quarterly, Longreads, The Gettysburg Review, The Chicago Tribune and Zoetrope: All-Story, and her poetry chapbook Eve and All the Wrong Men was published by Dancing Girl Press.

She is an associate professor of Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago, where she directs the MFA Program in Creative Writing, a founding faculty member of the Randolph College MFA program, and a member of the Third Coast Translators Collective. She serves on the Executive Board of the American Literary Translators Association and on the Executive Committee on Nonfiction at the Modern Languages Association.