Welcome

I'll have to admit that one of my biggest regrets of my latest bout with cancer is that I was unable to go to Denver to spend time with Logan Riley and my new granddaughter Zoe Ann:

I'd originally planned on spending a week or two taking caring of Riley while mom and daughter recuperated, but I'll just have to hope that delaying my introduction to Zoe will mean in the long run that I will have more time to spend spoiling her.

Even in a dark time
a beautiful girl child
was born unto Them.

4 thoughts on “Welcome

  1. Dear Loren:

    I wonder if you have read any George Oppen? If not, I hope you do and I look forward to your comments.

    P.S.

    I have just recently published a collection of chassidic poems, Sea of Reeds, written in English. The general theme is Jewish Mysticism, where the spiritual is revealed in the physical.

    May I send you a copy for your perusal.

    Here are two poems in this collection:

    Mountain Air

    Note the ‘spring’ in the step of a mountain goat –

    that’s fresh air in motion.

    High fibre oxygen, helium-like

    high performance positive thinking.

    A mountain panorama.

    Seeing from the top of the soul.

    Cloud agile sun-powered moon-gliding

    like an eagle in flight minimizing the mundane

    flying straight to the point.

    Breath-taking common sense,

    ‘Saying less, doing more.’

    ****************************************

    B”H

    Humidity

    Another humid day:

    Humidity is fine if you’re a young raindrop

    into water-weight training, pumping moisture.

    But once you’re too muscular,

    you’ll be on your own without a parachute.

    Then, at best, you might join a scenic river,

    sailing out to sea to see the world.

    Alternatively,

    you may rain on an old broken road

    and disappear in a fissure like Korach.

    Or you might land on a dry surface

    and simply evaporate, leaving

    no audit trail of your existence.

    Worse though, would be the humiliation

    of falling in a sudden downpour and

    funneling away down the city sewer.

    But there are better scenarios, such as being

    gathered in by the chevra ‘mikvah’ kadisha

    and purifying keilim, and holy Yidden.

    Or better still, to be part of

    the joyous water-libation ceremony

    in the Bais HaMikdash.

    Or, the apex of dreams,

    to be the descending dew

    that revives the dead.

    But until that exalted moment,

    may it come speedily in our days,

    please top up the freeon,

    batten down the hatches and

    let me hear the air-conditioner hum.

    And here is a review I received in Toronto:

    Book Review

    “Sea of Reeds” A collection of poetry by Simcha Wasserman

    by Yehudis Danzinger

    “Sea of Reeds” is a lyrical gift to the Jewish community.

    In his book of finely crafted poetry, Wasserman spotlights the spirituality in our lives, and his work is neither strained nor contrived. In this he is unique.

    Wasserman has a true understanding and instinct about poetry, and a rare ability to merge art with Jewish values. Like all poets, Wasserman writes about what moves him, yet it is obvious from the natural smooth flow of his writing that he is not placing the message before the medium, but rather allowing his personal experience as a Jew to seep into his writing. This is what makes ‘Sea of Reeds’ stand alone in the arena of Jewish verse.

    “Sea of Reeds” is a lively, sometimes humorous, always moving work of art. It is delightful to find a religiously observant poet capable of experimenting with language in fresh ways.

    Wasserman’s collection includes a wide range of poetic forms, including haiku, lyrical, rhyming and free verse. The underlying theme of his work is our connection to G-d in daily life; his message is gentle and sincere. He speaks of spiritual journeys and revelations, his own and those of famous Jewish personalities, in a way that we can all relate to, translating the mystical into engaging English.

    He has an eye for seeing the sublime in the mundane. His poem Humidity, for example, begins lightly, from the perspective of a raindrop, with the verse;

    ‘Humidity is fine if you’re a young raindrop

    Into water-weight training, pumping moisture.

    But once you’re too muscular,

    You’ll be on your own without a parachute.’

    By the end of the poem, however, his imagery gradually swells to encompass the loftiest concepts in Judaism;

    ‘Or the apex of dreams,

    To be the descending dew

    That revives the dead.’

    His novel ability to smoothly join the ordinary with the holy is what makes his poetry so exciting. He reminds us that G-dliness is accessible everywhere, at all times, if we remember to look for it.

    His poems are loosely categorized into five sections, Torah and Tefilla, Tzaddikim, Children, Nature, and Redemption. The title poem, Sea of Reeds, is included in the Nature category, though even the first verse speaks as much of human growth and psychology as it does of nature.

    ‘It is natural when young

    To burn like the Mediterranean sun:

    To measure one’s shadow against

    That of a mountain’s,

    To stand before a vast forest

    And imagine a million trees

    Marching to your command.’

    In a few lines, this poem captures the essence of youthful ambition and optimism. Much of Wasserman’s other work is similarly succinct and poignant.

    This book would be an excellent resource for teachers working in the Jewish day school system, enriching the curriculum with quality poetry on Jewish themes.

    As an expression of spirituality, poetry dates back to the Song of Songs, and the Psalms. But today it is a neglected art form in the Torah-observant world, which is a pity, since a poem can transmit the spark of an idea, the heart of a feeling in a way that lengthier writing forms cannot. A good poem can jolt the reader with surprise, with the joy of language, with a pure concentrated feeling. It magnifies our view of life, like observing a common object under a microscope.

    Perhaps with his work, ‘Sea of Reeds’, Wasserman will revive the popularity of inspirational poetry, of poetry in general in the Jewish community.

What do you think?