And no matter what answer we receive, we still have our faith that we did the right thing. We want the same faith from you.
We want you to understand that your words have feelings, that you being part of another poets words has meaning. That we are all here because we are a part of something. The better word to use for it is a "movement. Journey as an Author and college student views: They say that opportunity is everywhere; so are we. For who does the bell tolls? Common said if heaven had a height you would be that tall By Not even reaching the sky could erase the feelings of being small The feelings of not having it all, the space that encompasses it all Procrastination becomes a destination, mot The choice is yours Try a little harder Believe that you can do it You can always be better It is all in your mind Continue to reach Envision greatness So you can make your victory speech.
Damaged One simple word that describes me perfectly I am Often perceived to be something I'm not Hidden behind a mask to disguise my fears Can't run to my friends my family won't understand They'll think im crazy halfway through my explanat Sailing through the crimson fog to places never seen. Soaring past strange worlds, stars, galaxies and time, I be.
The polished brass of horns drags out a wah-wah shofar-blow. And copper from the sunshine jazz flames up in fire-bows. Unless otherwise noted, all translations in this article are by Michael Yashinsky. Korman would not publish another book of original poetry until the final year of his life.
In the intervening years, he would continue to edit, forge connections between Yiddishist centers in the Midwest and Canada, and, in his usual fashion, initiate innovative cultural projects, like his international journal Heftn - far literatur, kunst, un kultur Notebooks: Nor did he stop translating. Korman and I share Detroit. On a recent trip home, I found further traces of his life in the city. For over half a century it remained there, unseen.
But the enterprising new director of the shul's Berman Center for Jewish Education, Wren Beaulieu-Hack, has been curious about its contents. Now, appreciative of their cultural, historical, and spiritual worth, the shul is working to recover these old Yiddish books and restore them to a dedicated place in the recently renovated library. I was engaged to work on the project, to excavate this basement tel and separate out the Yiddish volumes, then catalogue and describe them.
Wading through the fascinating miscellany of the vault, past mountains of Goliath-sized soup pots and set dressing for what appears to have once been a Biblical masque a wooden well painted to look like stone, a rocking billy goat , I was greeted by this marvel: But literary pursuits were not the whole of his daily work, I have lately learned. The Leksikon fun der nayer yidisher literatur Biographical Dictionary of Modern Yiddish Literature gives but a few sentences on his life; likewise, his biographical entry at the back of the Midwest anthology.
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In our chat, Nina told me that, of course, her zeyde did not live by Yiddish cultural activism alone—who could? For most of his years in Detroit, he earned regular wages as the comptroller of Detroit's Jewish Home for the Aged, where Anna also worked as a nurse. Ezra Korman died only just after his long-anticipated final volume of poetry, Tseykhns un tseyrufim - lider un poemes Signs and Symbols: Verse and Long Poems was published by the prestigious Y.
Peretz Farlag in Tel-Aviv, in The tone such a title strikes is unmistakeable. To Korman, poems are not mere incandescence—they are incantation. They have the power not only to sum up, but also: This is an ample collection, including never-before-published pieces and revised versions of ones already seen. The Yiddish Book Center has in its collection a copy the poet enthusiastically inscribed to Kadia Molodowsky, whose work he had some thirty years earlier published to great acclaim in his anthology of women poets: For all his rumination on this theme, at the end of his life Korman claimed to have gained no more than the slightest idea of its great mysteries.
A sad thought, perhaps, but one we may comfort ourselves with—even minds and hearts tuned extra-sensitively to receive the waves of the world may not endure to grasp them. A whole life long in search of truth, and I only found a clue, a mere splinter, a suspicion, of the truth — a premonition.
The Signs and Symbols of Ezra Korman, Detroit's Soulful Yiddish Poet
In his wake, Korman left a world of words, and one woman, Nina, seeking to find her way in it. Nina knows Spanish but no Yiddish. So he laughs alone in the solemn twilight. A miserable laugh, a poisonous smile. He commands the supreme alchemists of his sky. Of overcast skies throughout all of time. And a church, with its holy cross, sank into the marshland nearby. The Leaves of Grass was a birthday gift from Jack, the glowing green tortoise represents gradual progress on the spiritual path.
There is more about Jack, more photos and more of his written thoughts and reflections about him on his memorial page. Thank you for leaving us so many haunting and beautiful poems Jack. When I read them, you are so present, so available. This one is seasonally appropriate and quite moving. A long, long, absence from the prison term, them being unwilling prisoners of education. Days to sleep, and the sleep on those winter days is the most luscious and beautiful.
Waking to crystal frost clinging diligently to the window with refractions of sunlight bursting through being refracted into magnificent colors splayed across the room subtly. Hearing the wind hiss, taunting you, believing you will be sulking outside into as usual? It is quite simply wonderful. And atop this celebration, feasts, gifts. The reunion of family around large candle-lit banquets, the cheering and anticipation of the new year awaiting. Friends and family of old.
Everyone was a-coming home to celebrate together. So I thought about all the friends I had here, and wanted to see them, to have a great reunion…. Many poignant journal entries, poems, and occasional class notes in a thick spiral notebook that Jack brought with him to the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg both times he went there—-when he was 18 and then after dropping out for a while when he was No entries in this notebook or elsewhere are dated, and rather than filling the notebook page-by-page in a characteristic way he apparently picked blank pages at random.
The consistent non order a precise reflection of Jack, someone who could not live comfortably bound to a schedule or long-term commitment but was relentlessly driven by the promptings of his restless soul. It was probably written in Winnipeg when he was eighteen or nineteen.
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It looks like it was tossed off in one take and yet, for me at least, it as a deceptively simple, soulful masterpiece. A poetic journal entry on restless longing from the same spiral notebook:. And surely I can not know if I have found it. I suppose I was just thirsting for drink from a new well. All my life I have felt moved and dictated, at least to some degree, by outside forces. Most all my life I have more or less walked ground pounded down by many feet and known well by many people. I have lived on a certain timeline which is the norm for most people but can so often be so unsatisfying.
Tongues controlled by gossip, feet aimed at fruitless ends, shallow mindedness. I wanted to live more completely and hear more stories and see other lives. I wanted to see the vast land which is my country as she is. I wanted to touch the world and feel it as it is not with a glove or protection. And I wanted freedom, obligations no more than what is necessary to sustain life, I wanted to breath this air that surrounds every body and object and let the wonder of this land sink into me, on some bustling Chicago street during a business day, or some warm and lazy Memphis afternoon or the crisp inhale of mountain air when only the immense collection of stars are your company.
To sing with my voice regardless of the idle carelessness of them dining at that most expensive restaurant, I wanted absolute freedom, I wanted my brain to cease trembling. Another page from the spiral, another one-take poem from a lonely night in Winnipeg.
Another tossed off Winnipeg poem that describes smoking a cigarette while taking a bath. There are three stranded lines Jack left in the upper right hand corner of the page, with no lines to indicate if he wanted them inserted into the poem anywhere:. One notebook is filled with poetry, much of it drafts of what is already published on his poetry page. The contents appear to be written during He left some interesting comments here and there on his approach to poetry.
Poetry is precise dealing with raw content, employing metaphor and symbol and subconscious association to depict, illustrate and portray life. It is a manifestation of ones own personal world. My poetry comes from deep self-reflection, from journeying deeply inward and howling out what I find to examine it in clear light. Poetry should have vitality, it should come alive and transfer, only by intuition, something powerful. There are a number of beautifully written travelogues in the archives that begin with Jack reflecting on his restlessness and why he had to leave situations that he found too confining.
I had left school for inarticulate reasons in search of vague dreams. The kind which were like butterflies on a cool spring afternoon, the kind which are dazzling and enchanting but impossible to pin down or capture, regardless of the persistence of the enchanter. A great deal of my life I felt a heavy guilt with my lack of bourgeois ambition or desire to fulfill the life style which a good well-rounded college education will provide.
But time and time again the standards to which I was to live my life stifled all the life out of me and left me, lifeless. The plain and undeniable voice of practicality never was able to illuminate a clear and pleasant path to me despite all the reassurance of everything I was supposed to value in life. And because of this I was deemed a fool, mentally unfit, and even mentally ill. And it took a great long while of conflict with my self to realize that in the face of an unforgiving and mechanical world I have no other choice than to follow my own feet.
Regardless of what everyone else will deem it, it is the only law that I understand and the only law I can follow. Though this is easy to speak it is much more difficult to truly live out. Facing resistance at nearly every turn, in an infinite number of situations and finding wills? It is a difficult in a world with infinite regulations, unwrit standards and precise formats for which each being is supposed to subscribe and retain as their fundamental grounding.
To be your own man. The only true, pure, and meaningful life is the one which seeks its own roads and refines constantly its individual and unique doctrine. So against all resistance I had chosen to leave university… omitting a few words—JZ So rather than live in a sate of eternal purgatory with absolutely no lust or zest for life I chose to leave. To find all the grandest adventures that had always lived in my mind.
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To search for far off exotic places to sink into my eyes, to dance on new grounds, to breathe new air, exhale new ideas and back in the warm wondrous story this world is always setting forth. But at some point in most of these travelogues, Jack seems to come to the realization that Emerson did in the 19th Century: Jack always framed his travel as a departure from a mundane, confining world.
Sometimes that departure is depicted as an ecstatic call to adventure and other times as a self-imposed exile from what Jack saw as a shameful failure to adapt or thrive.
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If you give birth to the genius within you, it will free you. If you do not give birth to the genius within you, it will destroy you. Jung said something with eerie parallels to what Jack wrote above in a passage that I encountered through a stunning synchronicity twenty years ago when I made the decision to leave my teaching career and go on the road.
Although this might seem like I am indulging too much of my own thoughts and words I am trying to make a point that could help you to help the next struggling young visionary you might meet. I have been the mentor to young visionaries both before and after Jack and the most classic and difficult problem to navigate is the need to help them find a practical, viable adaptation to life and the simultaneous need not to clip their wings and to encourage them to pursue their visions no matter how unlikely that pursuit is to help them make a living.
I have been on both sides of the equation myself—as the one giving advice and as the one needing it. Despite all the messages from the muse, this was no easy decision, as I had a tenured teaching job in the highest-paying county for teachers in the United States, where I made close to 60K a year quite a lot for a relatively young school teacher in and was provided with health insurance, an excellent pension plan, etc. My parents, and every voice of middle-class common sense and practicality, were urging me to return to the economic security of a profession I once loved.
I had been on the road ten months when the school district called, pressing me for a decision. I was traveling with some young friends with whom I had done volunteer work at a Navajo reservation near Big Mountain, Arizona. The little bit of money I had from cashing out my retirement fund had long since been exhausted, and I had been living close to the edge. We were camped out in a mesa near Sedona, Arizona, and the morning had arrived in which the decision had to be made.
With my friend Jordie as a witness, I did an I Ching reading that seemed to strongly support leaving the teaching job. As I was finishing the reading, another member of the group I was traveling with, Seth, who knew nothing about the decision I was facing, came over to show me a Jung quote he had just encountered in a book on mountain climbing. The quote turned out to be stunningly relevant. This was the second time in my life when it felt like Jung had stepped forward as a spiritual grandfather to give me his blessing.
Here is what Seth read to me:. The fact that many a man going his own way ends in ruin means nothing, he must obey his own law as if it were a daemon whispering to him of new and wonderful paths. There are not a few who are called awake by the summons of the voice where upon they are at once set apart from the others, feeling themselves confronted with a problem about which the others know nothing. In most cases it is impossible to explain to the others what has happened, any understanding is walled off by impenetrable prejudices.
There is no such thing, or if there is such a thing it is immediately branded as morbid. He is at once set apart, isolated as he has resolved to obey the law that commands him from within. The only meaningful life is the life that strives for the individual realization, absolute and unconditional, of its own particular plan. The undiscovered being within us is a living part of the psyche.
Classical Chinese philosophy names the interior way Tao, and likened it to a flow of water that moves irresistibly towards its goal. But in fairness to those, like my parents, who emphasized practical adaptation, and pursuit of vision in leisure, it was easier for Jung to go off the rails and stop seeing patients as he pursued visions because he was lucky enough to have married the second richest woman in Switzerland. So if you find yourself in the position of trying to help a struggling visionary, as I found myself when I met Jack, you will have to struggle, as they will, with these two hard to reconcile needs—practical adaptation and faithfulness to the creative muse.
You can find some of them linked elsewhere on the memorial page. A theme that emerges from the archives, is one that also emerges from the poems and from interaction with Jack. As much as he is capable of probing darkness and giving voice to alienation and bitterness, Jack also far surpasses the ordinary in his capacity for divine appreciation.
It can seem hard to reconcile, but makes perfect sense when you realize that Jack felt everything more intensely than ordinary. That is part of what makes him a great poet. Jack had great appreciation for both people close to him and sometimes strangers he passed on the street. While he could eloquently probe the dark side of places, especially Winnipeg, he could at other times celebrate places and seasons. She met Jack in She is a retired psychologist who will be 90 in November: I have kept trying from time to time and suddenly, by chance, found many, many poems, but no place for comments.
Like a Mozart, the rarest of prodigies, a special creation. There would be comfort for me, but maybe not for you, in the Jewish funeral quotation, The dust returns to dust,and the spirit returns to God Who made it. My mom was a child psychologist for 44 years and made a study of child prodigies she was a legendary one herself. Thank you for posting these poems, they are truly beautiful and painful — beautifully painful.
Poetry is our refuge. When you read these poems, draw close to them, sit across from this voice with a glass of wine or tea, it will be a very deep and intimate conversation. I was fortunate to be able to have so many still pictures of Jack, but it never occurred to me to record his guitar playing, singing, or just Jack being Jack—and he had so many unique gestures and phrases.
Does anybody have these who would like to see them put on this page? His poems incite such powerful resonance within me I felt the need to message you and thank you for perpetuating his energy in this way. My subconscious insists that we are like leaves of the same branch and this knowledge makes the connection to a man I never knew much more tangible, creating strange and powerful turbulence in my emotional and energetic bodies. If you read Savage Reflections before 3pm, April 29 go back and take another look.
Many words added, new formatting and photos. I never knew of Jack before coming across this site today. He is a lovely creature who wrote a lot of beautiful things. Thank you for sharing these pictures and poems! I think these are great poems. They are raw and honest, and express a beautiful and brilliant soul. Jack, on the other hand, is a deep thinker, feels deeply, and is lyrical. Whitman was an early inspiration for me too. The poems are also visionary in many respects. I think of a more clear-headed, less drunk Jack Kerouac.
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I saw Marty Matz as a beat poet who got marginalized because he retained a visionary and Neoplatonic, upward ascending and bardic lyricism in his poems. In comparison, his friends — Kerouac, Ginsburg, Corso — were just doing nihilistic existentialism. They are very readable and pull you in to his inner world.