Newspaper Archive of
Heritage Florida Jewish News
Fern Park , Florida
May 4, 2012     Heritage Florida Jewish News
PAGE 22     (22 of 24 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
PAGE 22     (22 of 24 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
May 4, 2012

Newspaper Archive of Heritage Florida Jewish News produced by SmallTownPapers, Inc.
Website © 2019. All content copyrighted. Copyright Information.     Terms Of Use.     Request Content Removal.

PAGE 6B By Elaine Durba'ch New Jersey Jewish News Celebrated poet and critic Alicia Suskin Ostriker, who lives in Princeton, N.J., re- cently published her 14th col- lection of poetry, "The Book of Life: Selected Jewish Poems. 1979-2011" (University of Pittsburgh Press). Ostriker, 74 is a professor emerita of English at Rutgers University and is currently teaching in the master of fine arts pro- gram of Drew University in Madison, N.J. She answered emailed questions from the New Jersey Jewish News. This new book, she said, "is a gathering of my Jewish poems written over the course of 30 years a 'diaspora' of poems I wanted to bring together. "So there are family po- ems. poems dealing with the Holocaust, with Israel. with spiritual quest, with what it means tobe a woman within Judaism. and how our under- standing may change as we move into the future." she By Dan Pine j. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California Murray Gershenz has gone around and around trying to solvehis problem, and prob- ably at 33 rpm. There he is. sitting on 500.000 rare record al- bums the inventory of his Los Angeles store--all of which he needs to unload before time catches up with him. At age 89, he knows that could happen sooner rather than later. Gershenz's quest to gell off his vast vinyl legacy is the subject of "Music Man Murray." an affectionate and affecting 22-minute documentary from Oakland filmmaker Richard Parks. Created as Parks' thesis J.P. Ostriker Alicia Suskin Ostriker recently published her 14th collection of poetry, "a dias- pora" of her Jewish poems. said. "Certain biblical'phrases remain central to me: 'Choose life.' 'Seek justice.' 'Love is stronger than death.' Whether I am exploring personal life. or politics, or what we can possibly mean by God, the urge and the urgency remains the same." Ostriker told the Jewish I[J I With new bo '00ife poet celebrat i writing, l npleasant )n' is. of t the hope can reach my own touching r my read- lgs, we all lore than nize. Our lity is just "g...or the News, "I have always written as a Jew because I am a Jew, but I only started putting my Jewish identity and my wrestling with tradition front and center in the mid-'80s: I started writing midrash" interpretive commentary on religious texts--"before I even knew the word. It ws rather frightening at first, and then I discovered chat others were doing it, and had been doing it, forever." She described her 1994 book: "The Nakedness of the Fathers: Biblical Visions and Revisions"--her first spe- cifically about being a Jewish woman as "a combination of prose and poetry, midrash and autobiography, from my 20th-century Jewishwoman's perspective." Throughouther career, she has sought both to express herself and to teach, pursuing both goals with equal fervor. She said, "I cannot imagine my life without poetry. Read- ing and writing poetry are at the core of my existence. tice. When I'm become a rather t person. "'Self-expressi course, a factor, bu is always that if I deeply enough int interior life. I'll b the interior lives o ers. As human beil share so much n we t/sually recog so-called individu the tip of the icebe island.'" HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MAY 4, 2012 believe we are all connected underneath as welI, Yes. there's also the desire to en- lighten or illuminate, but first of all it is myself I'm trying to enlighten." Despite her prolific output, Ostriker admitted to often ex- periencingwriter's block. As a teacherl she said, she tells her Students to try such exercises as "free-writing" writing without thinking. "But usu- About the poet ally the underlying problem is that there is something you are censoring," she said. "And until you kill the censor, and write what you are afraid to write, you'll be blocked. Can I always do that myself? No. not always." Elaine Durbach is a staff writer for the New Jersey Jewish News, from which this article was reprinted by permission. i Alicia Suskin Ostriker has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Poetry Society of America, the San Francisco State Poetry Center, the Judah Magnes Museum, the New Jersey Arts Council, the RockefeUer Foundation and the Guggenheim Foundation. In addition to"The Book of Life," other works include "The Book of Seventy," "The Mother/Child Papers" and "The Little Space: Poems Selected and New, 1968-1998" as well as several books she has written on the Bible. Ostriker has received the Paterson Poetry Prize, the William Carlos Williams Award, the San Francisco State Poetry Center Award, and the National Jewish Book Award, and has twice been a finalist for the National Book Award. Writing is my spiritual prac- She continue l, "And I Story ofaging 'Music i00,f00n Murray' resonates with fih0000maker Courtesy of 'Music Man Murray' Filmmaker Richard Parks at U.C. Berkeley's graduate school of journalism, the film screened at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in January nd the A Senior Living Community. where Hospitality is a Way of Life. . Assist Living -Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Care : Weekly Happy Hour hosted by Me Jewish Pavilion +:Special Celebrations and Meals dLing High Hoty Holidays for or recent East Bay Interna- tional Jewish Film Festival." It made its broadcast debut April 21 on the Documentary Channel as part of the annual Record Store Day, which honors America's retail music shops. That's the perfect day to honor Gers'henz. who has been peddling vinyl at his store since the days of sock hops and poodle skirt. Parks, the 30-year-old son of noted musician-producer Van Dyke Parks. shopped at Murray's as a youth. He remembers being struck by the musty; cathedral-like warehouse of a store, pre- sided over by the aged gadfly who handpicked every disc. "You go into the place and it's so visually stunning," says Parks. "Sitting Mur- ray down in the middle of the stacks with the records crumbling in on him. it feels like you're in Museum in New Y( like a sacred plac Gershenz grew York at a time Semitism was a m cious force in An screen, he recoun father once beat u conductor for ut anti-Jewish slur. Though he love cantofial music-- as a cantor for a ti Shalom. a Santa l the Frick rk. It feels ... ap in New hen anti- ore perm- erica. On :s how his p a trolley Lering an operaand he served e at Shir onica. Ca- liE. synagogue--Gershenz had broad musical taste. which he put to good use acquiring his collection. "He considers K his life's work," Parks says of the Gershenz stacks. "It grew 1301 Maitland, FL 32751 007-00-3990 Courtesy of 'Music Man Murray' 'Music Man' Murray Gershenz out of his personal collec- tion. He feels to me like an archetypal intellectual Jew- ish person froma certain era in America. There are fewer of them around now." With advancing age, Ger- shenz felt he could no longer properly run his business. especially with brick-and- mortar record stores dying out in the iTunes era. So he decided to sell, but only to the right buyer. Enter Irv Gershenz, Mur- ray's adoring son, who can't bear the idea of losing either his father of the store. Parks captures their .complex fa- ther-son dynamic and turns it into his film's subplot. "It was a blessing-as a filmmaker because I knew I had this other story to work . with," Parks adds. "They are such great foils to each other, like all fathers and sons." Parks is not Jewish, but he knew Gershenz's Jewish background had to loom large in the documentary. He filmed his subject dining at L.A.'s famed Fairfax district delicatessen, Canter's, and sitting in the sanctuary of the shul for which he once served. Gershenz. however, says on screen that he has lost his faith, though he won't say why. Gershenz has yet to find a buyer for the collection. To make up the financial short- fail, he has found bit parts in fil m and television--no surprise, since Music Man Murray is quite the ham on screen. Meanwhile, Parks con- tinue to land broadcast and festival outlets for his movie, which was scored by his musical father. ,'M  Man time Parks that dynal musiq so gh work D forj. 1 of NoJ whict print , dad took me to Music urray's for-the first hen I was a teenager," says. "There was a lot esonated with my own nic. When I found a :al story to film, I was td, I put my father to at no charge." n Pine is a staff writer he Jewish news weekly thern California, from this article was re- d by permission.