Page 25 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 36

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17
HINDUS / JEWISH AMERICAN POETRY
And is therein awakened
”—
Rabbi Nachman’s preachment on the word
,
Which I gloomily thumb
Wondering how it is with me
That I am not yet on the first
Rung (and many with me!).
To move a bit of air!
If a man ask, can he have
This thing, whether it be
An infusion of soul, or souls,
Steadfast to complete the journeying?
Words moving a bit of air
So that the whole morning moves.
Though his poetry will have to stand apart from his professional
work as an editor, his service in displaying prominently before
the public the work of Reznikoff, Ignatow, and other writers
he admires, deserves to be gratefully mentioned.
Despite my preference for letting poems speak for themselves
rather than just listing names of poets, this article would fail
with respect to coverage even more than it is bound to do in
any case, if I did not mention at least by name certain distin-
guished writers of American poetry who are Jews. First, there
are the principal associates of Charles Reznikoff in the his-
torically important ‘Objectivist’ movement: Louis Zukofsky,
George Oppen, and Carl Rakosi. Finally, there are Stanley
Kunitz, Muriel Rukeyser, Louis Simpson, and Howard Nemerov.
These seven names must strike the knowledgeable reader as be-
ing, at the least, as important as any of those I have mentioned
before. They include Pulitzer Prize winners for poetry, National
Academy and National Institute of Arts and Letters members,
figures with claims on the history of American poetry. No slight
is intended to any of them, and most of them, I venture to say,
would understand and approve the reasons that have prompted
me, in relation to my topic, to select those poets whom I have
discussed rather than themselves.