Saturday, May 26, 2012

Who's Who In Knickerbocker Village History: Reuben Iceland, 1940

reuben iceland In 1940 Reuben Iceland and his wife Anna Margolin were living at 18 Monroe Street. Reuben's real name was Ruven Ayzland An excerpt from From Our Springtime
I don’t remember what year I met Zishe Landau. It is also unclear to me whether it was late in autumn or early in spring. But I well remember that it was in the evening on Canal Street in front of the old Drukerman’s bookstore, that the evening was cold, misty and muddy, and that I wore a heavy winter coat. All the passersby wore heavy winter coats, and everyone in the little group of young writers who stood in front of the bookstore, waiting for a new periodical that was supposed to have been brought from the printers, wore heavy coats. But the thin, blond boy with the big blue eyes, who was introduced to me as Zishe Landau, wore a light, narrow, leather-colored summer topcoat buttoned tightly over a pointy belly. For those who knew the later broad and hefty Landau, it might be hard to imagine that in his nineteenth or twentieth year he was a thin, almost sickly boy, just as they might be unable to imagine that Landau used to go dressed as a dandy, in tight clothes, a stiff collar and a derby. In this last respect, though, he was not an “only child.” All of us in those years had notched rings on our foreheads from the hard round hats we wore. […] Like a lot of beginners who have not yet found their own voice, I sang, perhaps without realizing it, with an alien voice, and used poetic expressions that others before me had coined. Like a lot of beginners, I did not yet know that even the most powerful experiences and the deepest feelings do not in themselves make a good poem. Only later, when one becomes richer artistically, one discovers – often through great pain – the secret: that much more than impressions, experience, and sensitivity, one has to have expression. The best words in the best order, as Coleridge required. This means tone, rhythm, and form, valid only for a given poem and not for any other.

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