Thursday, September 28, 2006

Susan Eisenberg

Blind Spot. Susan Eisenberg. (The Backwaters Press Greg Kosmicki 3502 N. 52nd St. Omaha, NE 68104

Many of us want to shed our past like it is a cheap, gone-to-seed suit. As a Jew, I saw my father, a child of Russian Jewish immigrants, shed his Jewish roots to fit in his Brooks Brothers suit, and an advertising job on Madison Ave. In poet Susan Eisenberg’s collection “Blind Spot,” the poet examines her grandmother’s attempts to erase her past as a refugee from the Pogroms of Russia. Eisenberg’s poetry is accessible and visceral, as she examines her grandma’s painful ghosts that she can’t seem to exorcize. In the poem “My Grandmother Hated the Neighbors,” Eisenberg capture’s her grandmother’s festering resentment toward her own people:

Was it just to humiliate her
that they prayed outside
wearing long coats and velvet hats,
their sideburns curled like girls,
davening their mumbo jumbo
like it was the Middle Ages
and we lived in a filthy shtetl?

Or, just to shame us all
in front of the goyim
that they grew their beards
untamed-like they wanted
someone to yank at them? Pull them
down to their knees, and her
--an American—with them. (15)

In the lead poem”Heirlooms” the grandmother literally unweaves the past and spins in the illusion of an America with streets paved with gold:

She unstitched all remnants
of the girl from the shtetl
and spun our gold into skeins of straw
washed, dyed, and sewn by hand into
her proudest dress woven
in perfect English: “I was born
in New York City.”



Tuesday, September 26, 2006

David R. Godine: Recipient of the Ibbetson Street Press Lifetime Achievement Award

The Ibbetson Street Press poetry award is presented every November at The Somerville News Writers Festival. It is presented to a person who has made substantial contributions to the small or alternative press scene. The first prize was awarded to Jack Powers (founder of “Stone Soup Poetry,”), the second award winner was the poet Robert K. Johnson, and the third was Louisa Solano, former owner of the Grolier Poetry Book Shop. On Nov. 12, 2006 at the “Jimmy Tingle’s Off Broadway Theatre,” we are proud to announce that Boston small press publisher David R. Godine will be presented with the award.

David R. Godine is the president of a small, but very well-regarded publishing house in Boston, David R. Godine, Inc; founded in 1970. Godine worked for Leonard Baskin, the renowned typographer and printmaker, and his master printer Harold McGrath. Later he opened a printing shop in a deserted barn in Brookline, Mass. Godine, who was educated at Harvard and Dartmouth, has published a list of non-fiction, fiction, and translation titles of the highest order.

In 1980 Godine published a number of children’s books that have become classics including: Mary Azarian “A Farmer’s Alphabet,” Dylan Thomas’s holiday classic “A Child’s Christmas in Wales,” as well as the Godine edition of “The Secret Garden.”

Recently Godine has started two new series. One is “Imago Mundi,” that specializes in photography and the graphic arts, and “Verba Mundi,” that publishes the best in contemporary world literature. Some of the authors on their list are: Georges Perec, Jose Donoso, and Issac Babel.

In July 2002 Godine was entrusted with the “Black Sparrow Press,” that publisher John Martin closed down. “Black Sparrow,” most notably is the publisher of the works of the late “bad boy” of poetry Charles Bukowski. Martin paid Bukowski a monthly stipend so he could leave his job at the post office and write fulltime. The rest is history. “Black Sparrow,” has also published the works of Robert Creeley, Charles Olson, John Wieners, Paul Goodman and Paul Bowles to name a few. Since Godine acquired “Black Sparrow,” they have released a number of titles including a reissue of “The Exquisite Corpse,” by Alfred Chester.

Christopher Carduff, the current editor and publisher wrote of “Black Sparrow:”

“In short, you’ll find an alternative history of twentieth-century American-one that somehow flew under the radar of the Norton Anthologies, “Poetry” magazine, Helen Vendler, and all the other Arbiters of Received Taste. Here is a band of poets and troublemakers who make a lovely sound as they cut against the American grain—if you’re not afraid of their music, and if you have ears to hear.”

This is exactly what the “Ibbetson Street Lifetime Achievement Award” celebrates.

Doug Holder for more info about the festival go to