Arts & Culture / Mosaic / October 19, 2011

Simon Lichman unites past and future in verse

Glossberg Visiting Israeli Scholar Simon Lichman works with Jewish and Arab schools, applying an integration of the cultures through folklore, persuading the children to research their own family histories and in doing so, recognizing differences and similarities between the two cultures.

But on Tuesday, Oct. 18, he brought in one of his other important life works: his poetry.

The 7:30 p.m. reading started a little late, giving students and his fellow professors a chance to trickle in. Lichman greeted some of his colleagues, like theatre professor Neil Blackadder and Tony Gant, with warm, back-thumping embraces.

Murmurs of anticipation circled throughout the room.

Creative writing professor Monica Berlin brought her nonfiction workshop, to hear the reading, saying that of course she was excited, or she would not have postponed class.

English professor Natania Rosenfeld opened, telling the story of how she first met him in Israel and knew he was perfect for Knox when he came to visit her home and greeted her with a hug.

He read his own pieces with charismatic conviction and the slightly rambling nature of his accented speech gave the strong impression of his folklore background. His poems were about life, home life, his children, war and growth.

The reading ended with a short question and answer session where he elaborated on some of his concepts, like his “landscapes.” He described how he has found himself writing in sequences, writing similar pieces about, “something he’s working through and moving through” until he finds himself in a different place, a different landscape. He qualified that these sequences are not all written at the same time, of course, but upon retrospect, he is able to see how they fit together.

Lichman said what rooted his work with folklore and poetry was his belief that we need to protect the children of the world, protect their souls.

“If this ends,” Lichman said, referring to the psychological damage warfare and destroyed ecology has on children, “there will be someone around to make something…useful…tenable.”

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