In honor of the occasion poet and translator Alex Cigale translated two of Brodsky’s poems (see Cigale’s Facebook note). When Brodsky won the Nobel prize in 1987 he was asked by an interviewer, “You are an American citizen who is receiving the Prize for Russian-language poetry. Who are you, an American or a Russian?” Brodsky responded: “I am Jewish – a Russian poet and an English essayist”. In fact, Brodsky also wrote poetry in English, such as his Bosnia Tune.
A week ago The Forward dedicated half an issue to its founder, under whose guidance the paper at one time had the third largest circulation of any newspaper in the world, and on Monday I attended a press preview of the exhibit at The Forward. Cahan was considered an abrasive and intrusive editor, and was the subject of satyrical cartoons in rival and more left-wing Yiddish publications that considered The Forward sensationalist. The Forward’s current Associate Publisher David Drimer finds it ironic that the exhibit features so many of these cartoons that poke fun at a man who had no sense of humor. The exhibit includes correspondence between Cahan and novelist I.J. Singer (A.B. Singer’s older brother) in which Cahan suggests changes to one of Singer’s novels, and in his dismissal of Cahan’s suggestion Singer replies, “rely on my reputation.” I count myself lucky that no examiner.com editor has ever tried to rewrite my copy. Shabbat shalom.