Poetry is the heart of being

Poet Jack Hirschman at Caffe Trieste on May 19, 2011. © by Christopher Michel

Jack Hirschman (December 13, 1933 – August 22, 2021) was born in New York City and grew up in the Bronx. A copyeditor with the Associated Press in New York as a young man, his earliest brush with fame came from a letter Ernest Hemingway wrote to him, published after Hemingway’s death as “A Letter to a Young Writer”. Hirschman earned degrees from City College of New York and Indiana University, where he studied comparative literature. He was a popular and innovative professor at UCLA in the 1970s, before he was fired for his anti-war activities. Hirschman lived in California ever since, making an artistic and political home in the North Beach district of San Francisco. The former poet laureate of San Francisco, Hirschman’s style has been compared to poets ranging from Walt Whitman to Hart Crane to Dylan Thomas, and Beat poets such as Allen Ginsberg. His poems’ commitment to leftist politics draws comparisons to Vachel Lindsay and Pablo Neruda. Hirschman died at his home in the city on Sunday.