Hold It All

Philosophy/Poetics/Politics

On the New York Literary Establishment in the Fifties

“There’s no room for youth and vitality in New York. It is a city full of guilty academicians.”
–Gregory Corso

“Too big, too multiple, too jaded.”
–Jack Kerouac

“We want everyone to know that we had to leave the Village to find fulfillment and recognition.”
–Allen Ginsberg

— Interview in Village Voice; in Allen Ginsberg, Journals Mid-Fifties 1954-1958, edited by Gordon Ball

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A Poem, a History, a Novel

This fall Dianne, Lynette and I are reading the following books:


Read the rest of this entry »

Confessions of a Five

Over 25 years ago
On my month-long honeymoon in Italy

I brought along to read
Antonio Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks

Slow Reading

A young friend decided to read
Dear Layla Welcome to Palestine
(Her family are refugees from there)

Most chapters are a page maybe two
She is reading two chapters a day
H. D. Thoreau said: “I have no time to be in a hurry”

“Everything Must Be Told and Written Down”

Laura Jockusch,  Collect and Record: Jewish Holocaust Documentation in Early Postwar Europe  (Oxford University Press, 2012).

Laura Rockusch has performed a inspiring service in producing her book, Collect and Record. Contrary to many people’s assumptions that Holocaust survivors were quiet, traumatized, passive  from the war’s end to the Eichmann trial in 1961, she examines how Jews in Poland, France, and in Displaced Person Camps in Germany and Austria  immediately set work to gather anything they could on what he  just happened to their people during the 12 years of the Third Reich.

There were precursors for this kind of work; for example, at the end of World War I, the number of Jews killed in Ukraine in pogroms numbered between 50,000 and 100,00.   Researchers then sought to gather accounts from witnesses and survivors.  Here’s one message:  “Brothers! A curse of terrible pogroms is befalling Jewish villages and towns, and the world does not know, we ourselves do not know or know only very little about it. This must not be concealed! Everything must be told and written down. It is a duty for every Jew who has come or comes from the devastated Jewish towns to report everything that he has seen, for the news must not be lost.”   Khurbn-Forshung  was the name given to this activity—Yiddish for “Destruction Research.” Read the rest of this entry »

Gratitude/1053

Gratitude for the 11 people who’ve been reading, writing, and sharing the past two months in the online “Be in Love with Yr Life” Class.

Caroline Takes Refuge

“Breathing in,
I go back to the island within myself.
There are beautiful trees within the island;
There are clear streams of water,
There are birds, sunshine and fresh air.
Breathing out, I feel safe.
I enjoy going back to my island.”

–Thich Nhat Hanh

 

When It Comes to My Novel, Dear Layla Welcome to Palestine, Elie Wiesel Took the Words Right out of My Mouth

I no longer see literature as an art or entertainment. For me literature must fulfill a certain mission in categories of history and justice. Literature is the art of correcting injustices. If there is nothing else I can do, I write a book. This is precisely the task of the witness today, of the modern storyteller, of the Jewish writer. We use words to try to alter the course of events, to save people from humiliation or death.

–Elie Wiesel, Against Silence, edited by Irving Abrahamson, v. 3, p. 116

How to Have Fun

Mev taught me something very important: She taught me that when you go to Ted Drewes you could mix all different kinds of frozen custard flavors together. I would never have dreamed of some of the possibilities she tried. Mev loved ice cream and she loved desserts – the richer the better, the more varied the better.

—Teka Childress, eulogy from 1996; quoted in The Book of Mev

Gatha for Yoshifuji and Me

Breathing in, we don’t know the future.
Breathing out, we smile.