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Jack Hirschman (1933 – 2021)

A Mighty Poetic Force

Literary Dialogs with Nina Serrano Honoring Jack Hirschman (1933-2021)

Maybe because we are only months apart in age, I was shocked at the news that Jack Hirschman had passed. A mighty poetic force was gone. It was hard news to accept. I carried a heavy feeling in my chest for days.

My First Meeting with Jack Hirschman

I remembered my first meeting with Jack around 1976 when we (the Nicaragua solidarity group NIN, Non Intervention in Nicaragua) had put out a call for a support meeting. Jack answered the call and attended the meeting. Later, he joined our City Hall picket lines and city wide poetry readings. I was impressed by his mighty poetic talent and activist steadiness.

Over the decades, we participated in various readings together. Sometime in the1990s, he invited me to join the Revolutionary Poets Brigade in San Francisco. I was in my sixties living in Oakland so driving at night was problematic. Nevertheless, I made my way to San Francisco to join this dynamic and exciting group. I enjoyed participating in many poetry readings usually dedicated to a particular political issue. Jack was clearly the leader of the group, his voice thunderous and clear. He began introducing his Arcane poems into the readings, never failing to leave a profound effect. His Arcane poems always offered an in depth poetic analysis and statement on the reading’s theme.

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2011, San Francisco Mission Cultural Center, World Poetry Movement poets. Jack Hirschman, second from the right.

Many times, I would invite Jack to record his poems at KPFA fm on the radio. Much to my surprise, he often refused. He objected to KPFA observing the FCC ruling forbidding “dirty” words.

Fortunately, I was able to record Jack reading his poems in my son’s studio while he was the San Francisco Poet Laurette (2007 to 2009). He also came to KPFA for a radio interview upon his return from Medallin, Colombia in 2011, where he had just participated in co- founding the World Poetry Movement, as the US representative.

It was from these two recorded elements that I created this radio tribute to Jack Hirschman. It aired on KPFA (94.1 fm,) on Nov. 2 , 2021 and is scheduled for broadcast on OZCAT Radio ( 89.9 fm) on Nov.11, 2021. Click here to listen to the Cover to Cover, Nina Serrano and Jack Foley show, to hear the tribute which starts at 30 minutes into the broadcast.

I am also planning a zoom session to record in video and audio the many wonderful poems recently written to honor Jack Hirschman’s life. I will be broadcasting the results in 2022 on my website and on my regularly scheduled radio programs on KPFA and OZCAT. I invite everyone with a poem for him to please let me know if they would like to be invited to the zoom session. Contact me at ninaserrano34@ gmail.com.

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