May 16th, 2012

Herschel Silverman is dead, alas!

In his poem “Television Was a Baby Crawling Toward That Death Chamber,” Ginsberg summoned the image of Silverman in this way: “candystore emperor Hersch Silverman, dreaming of telling the Truth, but his Karma is selling jellybeans & being kind.” Mentioning this to me, Silverman said that he agonized for a long time, trying to understand what exactly Ginsberg meant by this. Clearly it’s not exactly a compliment, but a comment on a certain degree of restraint—or even repression—practiced by Silverman. But perhaps not every poet is meant to bare one’s soul in public; if anything, Ginsberg’s confessional fetish often bordered on all-out exhibitionism, while Silverman’s approach was rooted in a different set of priorities.

And, no, I had never heard of Mr. Silverman before today.

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