Page 22 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 36

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
14
have found their way into such collections. Carruth includes
three such poems by Shapiro:
My Grandmother, The Jew At
Christmas Eve,
and
The First Time.
Unlike Charles Reznikoff and Delmore Schwartz, Karl
Shapiro's literary career is far from over. It will be interesting
to see what figure his Jewish poems cut in the volume of his
Collected Poems,
which Random House has published this year.
And since he has never stopped writing, learning and experi-
menting, it will be interesting to see the shapes which his future
poems take.
DAVID IGNATOW
A year younger than Karl Shapiro is the 1977 winner of the
prestigious Bollingen Prize for Poetry, David Ignatow, who is
not to be confused with a relative bearing the same name who
was a well-known Yiddish writer belonging to the group known
as
Di Yunge.
It is ironic that the first recipient of the Bollingen
award in 1949 should have been Ezra Pound (a choice which
loosed a heated controversy and in which Karl Shapiro, as one
of the Fellows in Poetry of The Library of Congress who made
the award, refused to concur), while, twenty-eight years later,
it should have gone to a poet like Ignatow who is no more ill-
at-ease with his Jewish identity (nor crassly exploitative of it)
than Charles Reznikoff, whom he has on several occasions helped
to memorialize. In the days when
Commentary
was edited by
Elliot Cohen and later by Robert Warshow, by Martin Green-
berg and by his brother Clement Greenberg, Ignatow was a fairly
regular contributor to its pages. Not since then.
Fortunately, he has long since passed the stage where he is
in need of any encouragement from editors. He has published
in scores of magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He managed to
‘beat out his exile’ as well as any poet now writing. He is, as
many Jewish poets have been, an admirer, follower and devel-
oper of Walt Whitman. Among his early encouragers was
William Carlos Williams. His rooted conviction is, to quote
one of his early poems, that “an ordinary man is a message to
the world.” He has spent his life deciphering that message, and
the results are more verbally subtle than those achieved by
earlier poets such as Alter Brody and James Oppenheim (who