“The Russians Are Coming” and Other Poems

by Sparrow From our 2018 art calendar, dedicated to the theme of music   THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING The Russians are coming; the Russians are coming. They stole our election, and they are drumming. The Russians are drumming; the Russians are drumming. The president hears them, and he is humming. The president’s humming; the president’s humming. […]

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“Licorice Stick”

by Sherman Pearl LICORICE STICK When I came to accept that music was not my forte, that I was not Benny Goodman or Artie Shaw or player of a joyous klezmer clarinet, I stashed mine in the attic, maybe, with other relics I planned to revisit, or in the closet where passions go to die. But […]

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“How I Could Afford to Travel . . .”

by Robert Cooperman HOW I COULD AFFORD TO TRAVEL IN EUROPE, 1970 I’d saved money from my first job as a caseworker for the City of New York; plus, the settlement from a childhood accident that almost killed me: blood a crimson gusher from running into the hairline fractured foyer glass door to our apartment […]

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Israel’s National Poet

Modern Israel’s “national poet,” Haim Nahman Bialik, was born in Ukraine on this date in 1873. By his mid-twenties, Bialik was widely acclaimed for his writings in both Yiddish and Hebrew and had translated Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Cervantes’ Don Quixote, and other classics of world literature into Hebrew. In 1903, Bialik went to Kishniev as part of a […]

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The Uncivil Servant: Diaries of Doomed Writers

by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: Earthly Signs: Moscow Diaries 1917-1922 by Marina Tsetaeva, translated by Jamey Gambrell. NYRB Classics, 2017, 248 pages; and The Diaries of Emilio Renzi by Ricardo Piglia, translated by Robert Croll. Restless Books, 2017, 448 pages.   MARINA TSETAEVA (1892-1941) was part of the remarkable generation of Russian poets who had […]

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Leyb Kvitko and the Night of the Murdered Poets

Prominent Soviet Yiddish poet Leyb Kvitko, an editor of the literary magazine Heymland (Homeland) who became the head of the Yiddish Writers Section at the Soviet Writers Union, was born near Odessa on this date in 1890 (some sources say 1893). Kvitko “was welcomed by the [Jewish] urban literary community as a folk talent when he arrived in Kiev wearing […]

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