06 July 2006

Malca Litovitz

Somewhere, recently, I heard something about a new poetry collection by Malca Litovitz. Possibly it was when Mick Burrs and I were talking at the Art Bar Reading Series in Toronto on 30 May.

Today, I received real information from the publisher, Antonio D'Alfonso. Guernica Editions' 2006 catalogue says this: "In First Day, Malca Litovitz’s third collection, childhood memories, love, nature, and battles with illness are depicted on a broad canvas of lyrical and prose poems. Malca Litovitz’s first book, To Light, To Water (Lugus, 1998), won the Canadian Jewish Book Award in 2000."

Malca died almost one year ago on 18 July 2005. On the 19 July episode of Ashes, Paper and Beans I rebroadcast Susan Helwig's interview with Malca (from In Other Words CKLN, Toronto; recorded 24 January 24 1999) and I read the following poem:
At The Moonbean Cafe

At night, after an evening of poetry,
moon and fish hang from floors.
Carol Leckner’s blue scarf matches her eyes
and Mick Burrs’ grey scarf is feathered.
Joe Blades’ blond mane gleams in darkness—
his face scrubbed clean,
his Jeanius notebook is flooded with colours,
mysterious memoranda, and our collective breathing.

A man with a face as sweet as honey-cake
intones Yiddish and paints Mick Burrs.
Oh, the ZEN in Berzensky
makes the I in Litovitz fly
and dance like Anne Szumigalski—
one block past Grace Street,
straight on till morning.

We say our poems
then evaporate like the foam on cappuccino.

       —Malca Litovitz
           12 November 1998
(Reprinted from At the Moonbean Cafe (Toronto: Guernica Editions, 2003. ISBN 1-55071-182-2) by permission of the publisher.)

I've had a copy of this poem pinned to my wall ever since first receiving it from Malca. I was surprised at the time. Pleased. Was even more surprised when it became the title poem for her second poetry book. That was a memorable night indeed. As were the times I went into Malca's classes at Seneca College. I still have a sheaf of copies of one-page reports about one of my classroom sessions that were done as a writing assignment by her students.

T-shirt: Mojo Club
loc: unComCtr
temp: 25 C
sound: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, Architecture & Morality

1 comment:

Joe Blades said...

On 12 Jul 06, at 12:11:

Hi Joe,

Antonio forwarded me your note (with poem) on Malca. Malca was the gracious sort of person who brought people together and made them better. We were very close in the last years of her life. We collaborated in writing and were "editing partners" for our third collections, soon to be
launched. Hers is First Day. Our fourth book, Slow Dancing: Creativity and Illness, a collection of rengas and a duologue, will come out next year. She's still with us—in word, memory, and spirit. It was good to read your tribute.


Elana Wolff