Notes From Underground: Jack Hirschman

Jack & Ruth Hirschman, outside Cinema Theater on Western Avenue in Los Angeles, 1962. Photograph by Charles Brittin.

When you walk up to the City Lights poetry room, on your right there’s a bookshelf with a few handmade chapbooks, some poetry in translation, much of it translated by the people’s poet, Jack Hirschman.

Jack hand delivers new titles, written by poets from all over the world, and occasionally his own chapbooks. This is a fantastic time line of Jack’s life, with a line or two about many different eras and lives lived by the man… He just dropped off a new chapbook, a remembrance of Djuna Barnes that is quite remarkable; the last batch sold out swiftly so I recommend walking upstairs to the poetry room and grabbing one for yourself…

You can listen to 1963 Jack interview John Cage here, or maybe you want to watch a movie?

“The film was accepted into 8 film festivals including the Rome Independent Film Festival in Italy & the Bradford International Film Festival (hosted by the British National Media Museum). Film Maker Matthew Furey’s “Red Poet” paints a soulful picture of San Francisco’s own Jack Hirschman and brings to the silver screen the singular life of this troubadour for modern times. A modest Bronx childhood first gives way to a shooting star career in academia. Controversial teaching stints at Dartmouth and UCLA make him anathema to the academy; he is fired for his opposition to the Vietnam War. Soon Hirschman finds himself penniless and homeless on the streets of San Francisco. Through it all, Hirschman perseveres, continues to write his poems and publish over 100 books of poetry. Red Poet recounts a tale of a life lived on its own terms: against all odds, a unique poetic talent finds personal redemption through his art and his poetry.”

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