Required Reading: Jack Hirschman

Throughout this month on the blog we are going to be asking some friends about books that they think should be required reading for back to school types; it’s time to sharpen those pencils and remember to pay attention to what’s not being said…

Jack Hirschman recommends The Communist Manifesto

“The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes” -Chapter One, Communist Manifesto

jackJack Hirschman was born in 1933 in New York City and grew up in the Bronx. A copyeditor with the Associated Press in New York as a young man, his earliest brush with fame came from a letter Ernest Hemingway wrote to him, published after Hemingway’s death as “A Letter to a Young Writer.” Hirschman earned degrees from City College of New York and Indiana University, where he studied comparative literature. He was a popular and innovative professor at UCLA in the 1960s, before he was fired for his anti-war activities. Hirschman has lived in California ever since, making an artistic and political home in the North Beach district of San Francisco. He is known for his radical engagement with both poetry and politics: he is a member of the Union of Street Poets, a group that distributes leaflets of poems to people on the streets. He has also been instrumental in the formation of the Union of Left Writers of San Francisco. The former poet laureate of San Francisco, Hirschman’s style has been compared to poets ranging from Walt Whitman, Hart Crane, Dylan Thomas, and Beat poets such as Allen Ginsberg. His poems’ commitment to leftist politics draws comparisons to Vachel Lindsay and Pablo Neruda. A communist since 1980, Hirschman told Contemporary Authors: “It is vitally important at this time that all poets and artists collectivize and form strong socialist cadres in relation to working-class cultural internationalism.”

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