Jack Hirschman

Jack Hirschman


Jack Hirschman and Lawrence Ferlinghetti

In the beginning I was soused with words, the page wasn’t wide
enough to hold my spillover, I ran and ran and the puns and
brashbrandy flew out of my mouth slantrhymed.
In time I looked at her. The lines
broke. Look at mine, look at hers. And neither died of it.
That Irishman, they say, sang best
at seventy-seven.
It isn’t easy
to write the word, love,
and mean it
to speak open.

From Black Alephs (New York/London: Phoenix Bookshop/Trigram Press, 1969)


“Philosophically I’m an internationalist who knows that neither homelessness and poverty globally and specifically here in San Francisco, which the mayor is much concerned with, as well as war and violence will ever end until and unless the wealth of this world is redistributed and or appropriated for the benefit of all according to our needs as human beings,” Hirschman explained.
“All of my poetry and intellectual expression is, in one way or another, directed to that end.
“And since I believe that all human beings are poets in fact, and the writing of a poet is the most powerful action given to humankind, because unviable and unsellable in essence, and because a child of five years and a man or woman of seventy years in the act of writing a poem evoke the quality that is love at the heart of the world.
“I write to unfold the future of that equality with all my brother and sister human beings.
“The simplest thing in the world, imagine, three lines in Japan, thousands of leaves of grass of our own American bard, millions of variations throughout the world even unto intricate rhymes hip-hopping down the street, in schools, in prisons, slipped under your door, on the page or off the page, published between your ears, the simplest thing is the greatest weapon against the chaos, the fear, and war.”
Hirschman became the fourth Poet Laureate of San Francisco under the program Mayor Willie Brown initiated in 1998.

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