“A book is not an isolated being: it is a relationship, an axis of innumerable relationships.” ― Jorge Luis Borges
If Borges is right, then an archive of books is also a being, albeit a larger one, representing a far more vast “axis of innumerable relationships.” The Black Writers Museum in Germantown, Pennsylvania, bears out this theory, placing books at the center of a community’s identity and its plight. Its founder, poet and activist Supreme Dow, happens to also be something of a human athenaeum; a trove of knowledge of black literature, history, and civil rights. And so this particular archive is not the dusty repository of a distant past, but a being in relationship that breathes and walks among its readers.
Note: All of these poems are from a new manuscript called Penetralia that will be published by Black Widow Press in the spring of 2017. In August of 2017, Wesleyan University Press will publish Eshleman’s cotranslation with A. James Arnold of The Complete Poetry of Aimé Césaire, a bilingual 950-page collection. Eshleman’s most recent book publications include Clayton Eshleman: The Essential Poetry 1960–2015 (Black Widow Press) and A Sulfur Anthology (based on the forty-six issues of Sulfur magazine that he edited between 1982 and 2000) from Wesleyan University Press. There are also several chapbooks from BlazeVOX that can be accessed by emailing the editors at blazevox.org.
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 ABook 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.
Editorial note: Joshua Schuster and Steve Dickison have shared the following remembrance of Benjamin Hollander, and we are grateful for the opportunity to publish it in Jacket2.