Catalogue


Living in the past : poems /
Philip Schultz.
edition
1st ed.
imprint
Orlando, Fla. : Harcourt, c2004.
description
88 p.
ISBN
0151008728
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Orlando, Fla. : Harcourt, c2004.
isbn
0151008728
catalogue key
5117381
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Born and raised in Rochester, New York, Philip Schultz is the author of several collections of poetry, most recently The Holy Worm of Praise. He has received awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Academy of American Poets. He lives in East Hampton, New York
Excerpts
Excerpt from Book
You hear me speak. But do you hear me feel? Gertrud Kolmar 1 The Ukrainians hate the Romanians while the Poles hate the Germans but especially the Italians who hate the blacks who haven't even moved into the neighborhood yet, while Grandma hates mostly the Russians who are Cossacks who piss on everyone's tomatoes and wag their tongues at everyone's wives. She even hates her Lithuanian blue eyes and turnip Russian nose and fat Polish tongue; sometimes she forgets what she hates most and ends up hating everything about herself. This is Rochester, N.Y., in the fifties, when all the Displaced Persons move in and suddenly even the elms look defeated. Grandma believes they came here so we all could suffer, that soon we'll all dress like undertakers and march around whispering to the dead. 2 No one in this family ever suspects they're unhappy; in fact, the less happy we are, the less we suspect it. Uncle walks around with a straightedge razor tied round his neck on a red string, screaming and pounding on things. When he's angry, and he's always angry, he drops to a crouch and screams until the veins in his neck bulge like steam pipes. Mother locks herself, Grandma, and me in the toilet until he's flat. We spend a lot of time in the toilet never suspecting anything. Didn't everyone on Cuba Place have an uncle who hides in a tiny room off the kitchen yelling at a police radio and writing letters to dead presidents while reading girlie books all night? Didn't everyone live in a house where everyone feels cheated, ignored, and unredeemed? 3 Grandma climbs a chair to yell at God for killing her only husband whose only crime was forgetting where he put things. Finally, God misplaced him. Everyone in this house is a razor, a police radio, a bulging vein. It's too late for any of us, Grandma says to the ceiling. She believes we are chosen to be disgraced and perplexed. She squints at anyone who treats her like a customer, including the toilet mirror, and twists her mouth into a deadly scheme. Late at night I run at the mirror until I disappear. The day is over before it begins, Grandma says, jerking the shade down over its once rosy eye. She keeps her husband's teeth in a matchbox, in perfumed paraffin; his silk skullcap (with its orthodox stains) in the icebox, behind Uncle's Jell-O aquarium of floating lowlifes. I know what Mrs. Einhorn said Mrs. Edels told Mr. Kook about us: God save us from having one shirt, one eye, one child. I know in order to survive. Grandma throws her shawl of exuberant birds over her bony shoulders and ladles up yet another chicken thigh out of the steaming broth of the infinite night sky. 4 Grandma peeps from behind her shades at everyone peeping at her. The Italians are having people over in broad daylight, while the Slovaks are grilling goats alive (this means a ten-year stink!), and the Ukrainians are mingling on their porches, plotting our downfall. "Keep out of my yard," she cries in her sleep. Everyone sneaks around, has a hiding place. Uncle's police radio calls all cars to a virgin abducted on Main Street, while Mother binges on Almond Joys and Father sleepwalks through the wilderness of the living room, Odysseus disguised as a Zionist, or a pickled beet-"With my hands in my pockets and my pockets in my pants watch the little girlies do the hootchie koochie dance!" he sings every morning. Nights, I sneak into the toilet, where Uncle jumps out of the tub, yelling "Boo!" I hide behind my eyes where even I can't find me. Copyright 2004 by Philip Schultz All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced ortransmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writi
First Chapter
You hear me speak. But do you hear me feel?
Gertrud Kolmar
1
The Ukrainians hate the Romanians while the Poles hate the Germans
but especially the Italians who hate the blacks who haven't even
moved into the neighborhood yet, while Grandma hates mostly
the Russians who are Cossacks who piss on everyone's tomatoes
and wag their tongues at everyone's wives. She even hates her Lithuanian
blue eyes and turnip Russian nose and fat Polish tongue; sometimes
she forgets what she hates most and ends up hating everything about herself.
This is Rochester, N.Y., in the fifties, when all the Displaced Persons
move in and suddenly even the elms look defeated. Grandma believes
they came here so we all could suffer, that soon we'll all dress
like undertakers and march around whispering to the dead.

2
No one in this family ever suspects they're unhappy;
in fact, the less happy we are, the less we suspect it.
Uncle walks around with a straightedge razor tied round
his neck on a red string, screaming and pounding on things.
When he's angry, and he's always angry, he drops to a crouch
and screams until the veins in his neck bulge like steam pipes.
Mother locks herself, Grandma, and me in the toilet until he's flat.
We spend a lot of time in the toilet never suspecting anything.
Didn't everyone on Cuba Place have an uncle who hides
in a tiny room off the kitchen yelling at a police radio and writing
letters to dead presidents while reading girlie books all night?
Didn't everyone live in a house where everyone feels cheated,
ignored, and unredeemed?

3
Grandma climbs a chair to yell at God for killing
her only husband whose only crime was forgetting
where he put things. Finally, God misplaced him. Everyone
in this house is a razor, a police radio, a bulging vein.
It's too late for any of us, Grandma says to the ceiling.
She believes we are chosen to be disgraced and perplexed.
She squints at anyone who treats her like a customer, including
the toilet mirror, and twists her mouth into a deadly scheme.
Late at night I run at the mirror until I disappear. The day is over
before it begins, Grandma says, jerking the shade down over
its once rosy eye. She keeps her husband's teeth in a matchbox,
in perfumed paraffin; his silk skullcap (with its orthodox stains)
in the icebox, behind Uncle's Jell-O aquarium of floating lowlifes.
I know what Mrs. Einhorn said Mrs. Edels told Mr. Kook about us:
God save us from having one shirt, one eye, one child. I know
in order to survive. Grandma throws her shawl of exuberant birds
over her bony shoulders and ladles up yet another chicken thigh
out of the steaming broth of the infinite night sky.

4
Grandma peeps from behind her shades at everyone peeping at her.
The Italians are having people over in broad daylight, while the Slovaks
are grilling goats alive (this means a ten-year stink!), and the Ukrainians
are mingling on their porches, plotting our downfall. "Keep out of my yard,"
she cries in her sleep. Everyone sneaks around, has a hiding place.
Uncle's police radio calls all cars to a virgin abducted on Main Street,
while Mother binges on Almond Joys and Father sleepwalks through
the wilderness of the living room, Odysseus disguised as a Zionist,
or a pickled beet-"With my hands in my pockets and my pockets in my pants
watch the little girlies do the hootchie koochie dance!" he sings every morning.
Nights, I sneak into the toilet, where Uncle jumps out of the tub, yelling "Boo!"
I hide behind my eyes where even I can't find me.

Copyright © 2004 by Philip Schultz

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced ortransmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be mailed to the following address:
Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive,
Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2004-03-22:
A worried boy gets ready for his bar mitzvah, a grown man looks back on his extended family, and a somber poet reflects on the Holocaust in this moving, if hardly groundbreaking, sequence of 81 untitled poems. The first 54 remain narrative in their focus, setting the scene in "Rochester, NY, in the fifties, when all the Displaced Persons/ move in and suddenly even the elms look defeated." Schultz (The Holy Worm of Praise) introduces an immigrant milieu where "Everyone dickers with God." A pyromaniac uncle, a suspicious grandmother, the sexy "new girl at the end of the ally" and an overconfident rabbi provide the supporting cast. Central figures are the boy himself (never named); the boy's father; and Mr. Schwartzman, a Holocaust survivor whose suicide gives Schultz a sad counterpoint to the boy's own coming of age. The last 27 poems reflect on the story from the vantage point of an adulthood where "One needs to be practical"; citing Jewish philosophers (Martin Buber among them) Schultz views the past as "houses full of performing souls, each a single/ beautiful spark." Schultz's long, clear free verse lines maintain a trustworthy voice; set beside earlier poetic takes, however, on American Jews' postwar inheritance (Robert Pinsky, say, or Adrienne Rich), Schultz's offerings seem neither formally, nor thematically, new. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
Review Quotes
PRAISE FORTHE HOLY WORM OF PRAISE "This is easily one of the strongest collections of lyrics published in the last decade."--Library Journal "Moving fluidly from desire to pain to loss, sympathy, understanding and love, the poems inThe Holy Worm of Praiseare haunting meditations on friendship and the world's forgotten."--American Poet
PRAISE FOR THE HOLY WORM OF PRAISE "This is easily one of the strongest collections of lyrics published in the last decade."-- Library Journal "Moving fluidly from desire to pain to loss, sympathy, understanding and love, the poems in The Holy Worm of Praise are haunting meditations on friendship and the world's forgotten."-- American Poet
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly, March 2004
Booklist, April 2004
Washington Post, April 2004
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
Set in Rochester, New York, in the fifties, this extraordinary book-length sequence traces the year in a boy's life leading up to his bar mitzvah and passage into manhood. There is a lively mixture of ethnic groups here-many of them displaced by the war in Europe-with new hopes and dreams. It is a uniquely American place, where "no matter how far down you started from, you began again from the beginning." As the alternately elegiac and humorous poems conclude, the boy has become a man with a family of his own, but memories of his childhood linger. The cycles of life go on, and Schultz continues to render them with wit, grace, and above all a sense of wonder. I know what Mrs. Einhorn said Mrs. Edels told Mr. Kook about us: God save us from having one shirt, one eye, one child. I know in order to survive. Grandma throws her shawl of exuberant birds over her bony shoulders and ladles up yet another chicken thigh out of the steaming broth of the infinite night sky. -from "Grandma climbs"
Table of Contents
The Ukrainians hatep. 3
No one in this familyp. 4
Grandma climbsp. 5
Grandma peepsp. 6
Old man Haasp. 7
Mother locks mep. 8
Grandma ties red stringsp. 9
Uncle likes to lookp. 10
Grandma says Rabbi Epsteinp. 11
Almost every nightp. 12
Everyone dickersp. 13
Before Uncle burnedp. 14
Mr. Schwartzman survivedp. 17
The Cinemascopep. 18
On Saturdays I followp. 19
On Wednesday morningsp. 20
Grandma watched her motherp. 21
Being chosenp. 22
Memories talkp. 23
Every night at Kodakp. 24
Mr. Schwartzman writesp. 25
I like to lookp. 26
Every Saturday Mr. Schwartzmanp. 27
We walk through the lilacp. 28
When Uncle burnedp. 29
Paul Anka singsp. 30
Spuming a perish melodyp. 31
In winter the darkp. 32
Father wavesp. 33
A flashlight breaksp. 34
It's rainingp. 37
The Dubinsky brothers dancep. 38
My bar mitzvahp. 39
I'm looking at picture booksp. 40
One Saturday morningp. 41
When I start bawlingp. 42
Singing Al Jolsonp. 43
Three times a weekp. 44
The new girlp. 45
Billy Sanders livesp. 46
"A Cossack attacked you!"p. 47
I don't know anyonep. 48
I dream I get up in the darkp. 49
My first morningp. 50
We're all dressedp. 51
"We're not goingp. 52
Rabbi Friedlanderp. 53
Father's brothersp. 54
"Since I was a boyp. 55
He didn't hatep. 56
Mother smilesp. 57
I find in Mr. Schwartzman's German Biblep. 58
"Rest nowp. 59
A boy has onep. 60
Our story endedp. 63
Why?p. 64
I travel 100 milesp. 65
"I was always readyp. 66
The man offp. 67
Its eyes openp. 68
The men and womenp. 69
"Look out!--Mama's madp. 70
Everyone's lifep. 71
The glassp. 72
After Mother diedp. 73
We need a new carp. 74
Mother's Yahrzeitp. 75
It was only possiblep. 76
This morning I'm tiredp. 77
At campp. 78
Late at nightp. 79
The woman beside mep. 80
"In the campp. 81
My five-year-old sonp. 82
I dreamed my sonsp. 83
My bones aren't whatp. 84
I'm on the jitneyp. 85
In the dreamp. 86
"All real livingp. 87
The Old Stone Cemetryp. 88
I wish the deadp. 89
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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