Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel this week joined the campaign to oust New Jersey Poet Laureate Amiri Baraka, who has come under fire for implying that Israel had advance knowledge of the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
"I think a man who writes such things should not be a literary voice for New Jersey or any other group in the United States or any civilized society," Wiesel told The Jewish Week.
A new book explores Bob Dylan’s Jewish inspiration and prophetic voice.
Bob Dylan showed up in Greenwich Village in 1960 dissembling tall tales of who he was, riding in as a mystic, mythic, out of the American West, one of Woody’s children, raised by Bessie Smith or Mother Goose, now you see him, now you don’t, born in a dustbowl or on the Burlington Northern, a never-ending kaleidoscope of biographical masquerade.
Just after the attacks of 9-11, as the intifada simmered outside, Peter Cole, a poet and publisher living in Jerusalem, sat down at the breakfast table to read the morning e-mail from New York. One message contained a verse by the great scholar Gershom Scholem, and it represented one of the first translations of Scholem's poetry into any language.
The New Jersey state Senate last week took a step toward ousting embattled state poet laureate Amiri Baraka when it voted to eliminate the post. The vote was 21-0, with 19 abstentions. The measure now goes to the state Assembly, but it is not clear when or if that body will take action.
As a backup plan, senators are considering a resolution to censure Baraka, who caused an uproar last year when he read his 9-11 themed poem "Somebody Blew Up America" at a poetry festival.
When history touched Yonia Fain's life, it hit with gale force. For 30 years he was "dragged by the storm of events over half a world," the Brooklyn-based painter and Yiddish poet once wrote.
Between 1923 (when a 9-year-old Fain and his family fled Bolshevik Russia, and 1953) when he settled in New York City: Fain outran Nazi troops in Poland, was imprisoned by the Soviets, escaped to Japan, was deported to China and eventually made his way to safety and artistic success in Mexico.
Newark, N.J. — Controversial New Jersey poet laureate Amiri Baraka, whose recent poem “Somebody Blew Up America” suggested that Israel knew in advance about the Sept. 11 terror attacks, blasted his Jewish critics Wednesday, calling the Anti-Defamation League “the voice of imperialism.”
Baraka is refusing to resign his post despite calls from New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey that he step down, adding Wednesday, “I will not apologize.”
Last Sunday’s New York Times declared that Jewish life on the Lower East Side was in its death throes. Meanwhile, a gathering at the historic Eldridge Street Synagogue proved that, at least in some corners, the neighborhood’s Jewish activity was not yet gone, just showing its age.
A group of about a dozen poets aged 65 and older, and an audience twice their number, had gathered in the 115-year-old sanctuary that mellow morning for the Eldridge Street Project’s second annual Poetry Slam for Seniors.
New Jersey poet laureate Amiri Baraka says he will fight legislation aimed at removing him from the state-appointed position, telling The Jewish Week Tuesday he was prepared to take legal action if a bill being drafted this week in the state Senate passes. “I certainly will sue,” he said Tuesday by phone from his home in Newark.
Legal experts say the controversial poet could have a good case on free-speech grounds.
Only the gentlest prodding gets Dave Isay and Henry Sapoznik to sputter superlatives about “The Yiddish Radio Project,” the serendipitous act of cultural reclamation they co-produced, which airs on National Public Radio starting this Tuesday.
“It’s like opening King Tut’s tomb,” says Sapoznik. “It’s like the Rosetta Stone,” says Isay.
When New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey didn't like what state Poet Laureate Amiri Baraka had to say about Israelis in a poem about 9-11, he took action.
McGreevey, with the nearly unanimous support of the state Legislature, abolished the state-funded post through budget cuts several weeks ago to get rid of Baraka.
In recent weeks McGreevey has said he didn't like the "abhorrent" views of a Rutgers University pro-Palestinian student group that is sponsoring a national conference in October at the state-financed institution.