|Samuel Menashe, 1925-2011|
Photo: Librado Romero/New York Times
Menashe wrote brief, highly concentrated poems that send subtle vibrations out in various directions at once. They are like pebbles dropped into still water. (You can read some here, here and here.) Well, trust me—never having read him before made reading him aloud a serious challenge.
After reading maybe a dozen poems, I began to develop a feel for his tactful, deeply engaged voice, and the rest of the session (I like to think) produced something useful. In the end, I was forced to imagine my own sight extinguished and hearing, out of nowhere (so to speak), Samuel Menashe’s poetry for the first time. (But one of his great strengths is that one always seems to hearing his poems for the first time.) Maybe a less than excellent reading like mine wouldn’t hamper the poems at all. I was sure it wouldn’t, in fact. They are simply that good.