Page 225 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 24

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have typically tried to cultivate qualities of tight-lipped col­
loquial toughness, even verbal flatness, in their verse.
“Against this background, Simon Halkin’s new volume of
poetry stands out as a rare kind of achievement—his poems are
beautiful and the words of his poems are beautiful. In the
unusual range of his vocabulary with its resonant associations,
in his linguistic inventiveness, the plastic boldness with which
he shapes his verbal medium, in the almost tactile loveliness with
which he endows words and sounds, he produces an imaginative
sumptuousness which is, I suspect, the special kind of contribu­
tion that can be made to Hebrew poetry by a man whose forma­
tive relation with the language here in America was literary, not
colloquial. But these are not, let me hasten to say, the poems of
an aesthete, a writer merely interested in composing pretty sur­
faces. Simon Halkin never takes sentimental short-cuts to the
realization of beauty: his response to it, always part of a larger
imaginative realism, is bracingly unillusioned. With a full sense
of the terrible transience of things, of the inescapable human
condition of isolation and frustration, he can care honestly and
intensely about the kind of things that have always moved poets
—the sweet curve of a woman’s breast, the shape of a cloud, a
rugged wooded landscape, the enormity of the sea, the smell of
straw.
Crossing the Jabbok
is a book that people who care about
poetry will cherish, and it is a privilege for me to present its
author with the Jewish Book Council’s Hebrew poetry award
for 1966.”
Meyer Levin
The Harry and Ethel Daroff Memorial Fiction Award was
presented to Meyer Levin by the novelist and short story writer
Charles Angoff. His message read:
“Tonight the Jewish Book Council of America is honoring
a man who is pretty much the father of most that is good in
Jewish American literature in the past three and a half decades.
It is a young literature. It began as a matter of enduring im­
portance not much earlier than 1917, the year of the publication
of
The Rise of David Levinsky,
and its worthy companion, Meyer
Levin’s
The Old Bunch
appeared 20 years later.
“At the moment writings about Jews in the United States are
enjoying extraordinary popular acceptance and critical acclaim.
But this acceptance and acclaim are not always, to borrow a folk
expression, good for the Jews. So many of our popular novels
are so tawdry both as reporting and as art, and so many of the
allegedly authoritative critical pronouncements are so wrong­
headed and so ill-informed. No less an organ than
The New York
Times Book Review,
apparently not satisfied with printing a