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December 16, 1983 - Image 29

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1983-12-16

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

• Thinking
Poetry Volume Challenges Jewish

By SOL LACHMAN

"After The Chebron Pog-
rom" (Sand Ridge Books) by
Shaya Kline is a loving,
careful look at the recent
Jewish history of suffering
and bitterness, and like all
good polemical poetry, the
power and craft of its imag-
ery sweeps us away as it
elevates a truth and holds it
out to us, each hard, cold
facet gleaming in a harsh
new light.
The title poem, "After
The Chebron Pogrom," ends
with the lines, "Somewhere
above me, for an hour, a
woman has been screaming.
Now it .is almost like sing-
ing."
In this line, Kline has
accurately described his
own work. The poetry of
Shaya Kline assaults the
suffering of Jews and tears
it out from the roots, mak-
ing it art. It is this ability to
ritualize and transcend suf-
fering, through which Kline
ties himself to the great tra-
dition of Hebrew poetry as
exemplified in Bialik's
"City of Slaughter."
But Kline is a newer type
of Jew. Bialik speaks of im-
potent fury, of bitter roaring
lost in a storm, while Shaya
Kline's characters demand
action, response and retri-
bution.
The work is as exciting
as it is relentless in its
pursuit of the heart of the
Jew. Through an arrest-
ing collection of char-
acters, Kline pushes us to
look at ourselves as suf-
ferers of every kind, and
to respond.
When the mother in the
poem, "Mourner," locks
herself in the bathroom,
crazy with grief at the death
of her child, the aunt says
that, "to get her out, my
father should break down
the door with an ax." This
poetry is such an ax.
Every type of Jew is re-
presented in this collection;
all people we could know or
be. The rebbe's brother,
Moshe, disappears with
missionaries, leaving be-
hind a trail of carefully cut
payess, "forbidden" books,
tefilin.
When we last see Yaaciov
of the poem "Lehi," he is
being pushed into an alley
by two British sergeants
and four Jewish policemen.

When Amram is blown in
half by a bomb hidden in a
basket of oranges in the
poignant "Mahane
Yehuda," his friend puts on
Amram's clothes, lives with
his wife, takes over his life,
giving away his own.
A scene in "Valley
Ayyalon" finds a mother,
raped by a cossack: "She
went with him to the cellar
so he wouldn't find the chil-
dren sleeping in the attic."
A man who was saved by a
blind peasant girl in 1943
remembers, "The 18 lilac
petals she tucked in the
braids of her blonde hair
carefully, I preserved be-
tween the pages of a
Humash."
Another man, whose wife
was left paralyzed, his
daughter murdered in a ter-
rorist attack, equally care-
fully lists the body parts of
former Nablus Mayor, Bas-
sam al-Shaka, left behind
the wreckage of his car, de-
scribing the bomb as a "love
offering."
The poem "After The
Chebron Pogrom," the
second of the same title,
bears the biblical epig-
raph, "You should not
stand idly by your
brother's blood — Vayyi-
qra 19:16." These poems,
this poet and his char-
acters, end all notion of
passivity in the face of a
threatening world.
Perhaps the finest attri-
bute of his poetry is its fear-
lessness. Shaya Kline looks
directly at tough Jewish is-
sues, challenging our atti-
tudes. This poetry is not af-
raid of "what the goyim will
think" of Jewish anger, or
even Jewish vengeance.
More importantly the
poetry is unafraid of what
the Jews will think. In -
"Moshe Barazani & Meir
Feinstein, The Martyrdom
of," we are Confronted beau-
tifully and powerfully with:
The light in our cell
is the fuse burning. Moshe I
promised
we would not hang, for this
grenade
we hold between our hearts
is in fact the heart
my bubbe embroidered on a
pillow, with perfect
yellow oranges, juniper ber-
ries tateh picked
cowslip, torn wrappers from
my pocket

Troy Jewish Congregation
Celebrates 1st Anniversary

when I was a child meteors
showered the sky
with cinders, a thousand
moths fluttered
against a lamp in the fog the
first night
in Palestine I slept on the
same beach where
you executed two British
officers as they cried:
Moshe, Moshe . . . ,

. . . there are those who will
remember us with love.
In the tradition of Ben
Hecht, Kline's poem "Av-
raham Staysky" begins,
"Did you really believe a
Jew could not murder a
Jew?," and ends with the
moot question, "how long
did you live after Ben-
Gurion's mortars exploded
the decks of the Altalena
and sunk our hopes, sac-
rificed Jerusalem?"
"After the Chebron Pog-
rom," was published by
Howard McCord of Sand
Ridge Books in an edition of
only 250 copies. Like most
good volumes of poetry from
small presses, it cannot ex-
pect a wide audience, but

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Celebrating the first anniversary of the Troy
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deserves one.
This will not be a popular
book with the liberal Jewish
establishments, literary
and otherwise, but it is a
book that speaks powerfully
to some of the most painful
sufferings of our people, ad-
dressing, at its best, the
great perfidy which has
been visited upon us, and for
the first time since Uri Zvi
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with the eloquence, craft
and guts to do it well.

Friday, December 16, 1983 29

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