Philip Schultz reads two selections from his recent book-length poem, Living in the Past.He's the founder and director of The Writers Studio, and a former director of NYU's Graduate Creative Writing program. His work has been published widely, including in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The Nation, and The New Republic.
Music: Chicago Underground Duo (Chad Taylor and Rob Mazurek) - "Micro Exit" - from the album Axis and Alignment from Thrill Jockey
# 11, from Living in the Past
Everyone dickers with God. Everyone gets something:
Grandma gets one dead husband who does nothing
but read Torah and complain, the kitchen ceiling where
all her curses live rent-free, a lifetime of oy veis. ... Uncle gets
his wieners, eight varieties of sauerkraut, five newspapers spread
over the kitchen table like a vast strategy, the Paramount screen
where he pulls curtains shut on Marlena D who shaves her legs
four times a day. Father gets free room and board, a coal-burner
to intimidate, all the blame. Mother gets the lower left half of
the icebox, where she hides bacon, popsicles, all her glee.
I get the best hiding places, Uncle's girlie books, the stained glass
attic window where the wind sings of inner and outer things,
as Martin Buber said, what are they but things—"O secrecy
without a secret! O accumulation of information!" I get faith
and intuition and 5763 years of longing and despair, a passion
for hearsay, boogieing, and epistemology...