Poetry News

RIP Benjamin Hollander

By Harriet Staff

Screen Shot 2016-11-30 at 11.53.07 AM

We were saddened to hear of the death of Benjamin Hollander, who died on November 21st. At Jacket2, Joshua Schuster and Steve Dickison remember Hollander as a poet of conversation. From the top:

Benjamin Hollander passed away from brain cancer on November 21, 2016. Ben — Benjamin Barry Hollander, called Barry by his family — was born in Haifa, Israel, August 26, 1952. His mother and father were both refugees from Germany. He immigrated, with his parents and his brother Gad, the younger of two older brothers, to New York City (briefly to Brooklyn, then to Jamaica, Queens) in 1958. In 1978, with his wife, Rosemary Manzo, Ben moved to San Francisco, where he lived and raised his family — and where he passed away this month. Over the past three decades, after earning a master's degree at San Francisco State University, he taught English, writing, and critical thinking primarily at Chabot College, across the Bay from San Francisco, in Hayward, California. Among other courses one he revisited at several local schools focused on Holocaust literature, extending that term to include the war on Bosnian Muslims. With David Levi Strauss, he coedited the last several issues of Acts (including A Book of Correspondences for Jack Spicer), the literary magazine associated with New College of California and its Poetics Program of the 1980s. Although Ben had no formal affiliation with New College, a number of poets at and around the school would become his friends and collaborators.

Here are Ben’s book publications:

Translating Tradition: Paul Celan in France (editor; ACTS, 1988)
How to Read, too (Leech Books, 1992)
The Book of Who Are Was (Sun and Moon, 1997)
Levinas and the Police, Part 1 (Chax Press, 2001)
Vigilance (Beyond Baroque, 2004)
Rituals of Truce and the Other Israeli (Parrhesia Press, 2004)
In the House Un-American (Clockroot Books, 2013)
Memoir American (Punctum Books, 2013)
Letters for Olson (editor; Spuyten Duyvil, 2016)
forthcoming: The Letters of Carla, the letter b., A Mystery in Poetry, With a Foreword by the Future Guardian of the Letters, and An Afterword by Benjamin Hollander (Chax Press, 2017)

These books are filled with poems, prose, dialogues, quotes, plays, philosophical reflections, polemics, and memories. One thread that unifies all these books is that each contains correspondences — real and imagined correspondences, letters that turned into poems and then back into letter-poems. Ben thought of his poems as absorbing and being absorbed by a variety of voices, personae, friends, translators, and as-yet-unknown readers. Poetry as exchange, commentary, collaboration, communitarianism, wandering among wanderers, destining, addressing — all this in the sweetness of a formal language sent back and forth among us. Here “I” am.

Read on, including excepts from Hollanders writing, at Jacket2.