Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Andrei Codrescu (December 20, 1946)

I’ve always enjoyed Andrei Codrescu’s commentaries on All Things Considered, especially when he contrasted his youth under communist rule to his adulthood as an American poet and academic. Though I think the title of his poetry magazine, Exquisite Corpse, is delightful, I've never actually seen a copy.

For the Moment Magazine symposium on what it means to be Jewish he said:
“My family fled Hungarian-occupied Transylvania to escape the Nazis to Romania, where I was born after the war. Being a poet, I work with language, which is something we Jews are very good at. We have survived by means of a book, the perpetuation of one language and the invention of another. Hebrew words still maintain a potent link to the sacred, just as Yiddish, our other language, keeps us rooted to the bitter ironies of the human world. Of course, any language can connect to the divine under the ministrations of a poet, but there is something in our use of it that transcends both education and prayer. We offer the world a model of survival for thousands of years without a bureaucratic state (until Israel) or an official language. We are a shining and tragic example of what happens to the powerless when the powerful need scapegoats, and we provide at the same time a model for existence through learning and community. We possess a stubborn sense of justice born out of being the perennial subjects of injustice. Our moral history consists largely of reflection on the laws of men and the Law of God, a subject of existential urgency to all humans.”

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