Current City, State, Country
Birth City, State, Country
Norbert Hirschhorn is an Austrian-born public health physician. For his work in oral rehydration therapy, he was commended by President Bill Clinton as an “American Health Hero” in 1993. His first pamphlet, Renewal Soup, and his first full collection, A Cracked River, were published by Slow Dancer Press, London, in 1996 and 1999. Two pamphlets followed resulting from competitions: The Empress of Certain (Poet’s Corner, 2005) and Sailing with the Pleiades (Main Street Rag, 2007). A fourth pamphlet, The Terrible Crystal, was published in 2008 by Hearing Eye Press, London. His second and third collections, Mourning in the Presence of a Corpse and Monastery of the Moon, appeared in 2008 and 2012 from Dar al-Jadeed, Beirut, Lebanon. A fourth collection, To Sing Away the Darkest Days – Poems Re-imagined from Yiddish Folksongs, was published in 2013 by Holland Park Press, London. In 2016 Holland Park Press published his fifth collection, Stone. Bread. Salt. In 2020, Once Upon a Time in Aleppo, a co-translation with Syrian poet Fouad M. Fouad was published in 2020 by Hippocrates Press, London. A new collection is due out in summer 2023. His poems have appeared in Acumen, Agenda, Dream Catcher, Magma, Modern Poetry in Translation, PN Review, Poetry Magazine (Chicago), Salmagundi, among many other journals. His memoir, To Heal the World. My Life in Medicine, Poetry, and Public Health was published in 2022 by Sloan Publishing, New York.
What is the relationship between Judaism and/or Jewish culture and your poetry?
In Judaism, the Hebrew word tshuva is a vital concept. It means return, but also repentance. It is said that God first created repentance, then the universe. Over the past decade I have made my own return: a journey to rediscover my Jewishness. My parents and I had escaped from Vienna, one step ahead of the Nazis, to find safety in England, then America, but leaving my grandparents behind. An abiding, silent grief enveloped the family, confounding our Judaism, no longer a solace.
Several years ago, however, my return began with the publication of A Memorial Book, telling the compelling stories of members of my Hirschhorn and Fischer families during the Shoah: those who survived and those who didn’t. The stories were brought to light by letters and photographs kept faithfully by my uncles and cousins who knew they carried a history that must not be forgotten. Almost as a separate project, I returned to the language my grandparents and great grandparents spoke in my poetry collection, To Sing Away the Darkest Days. Poems Inspired by Yiddish Folksongs (London, Holland Park Press, 2013). The history of the Jewish people in Europe can be heard in those songs. In my several collections, I wrestle with the God who gave me life.
Stone. Bread. Salt. (Holland Park Press, 2018)
Over the Edge (Holland Park Press, 2023)
To Sing Away the Darkest Days: Poems Re-imagined from Yiddish Folksongs (Holland Park Press, 2013)
Monastery of the Moon (Dar Al-Jadeed, 2012)
Mourning in the Presence of a Corpse (Dar Al-Jadeed, 2008)
A Cracked River (Slow Dancer Press, 1999)
The Terrible Crystal (Hearing Eye Press, 2008)
Sailing with the Pleiades (Main Street Rag Publishing, 2007)
The Empress of Certain (Poets Corner Press, 2005)
Renewal Soup (Slow Dancer Press, 1996)
Once Upon a Time in Aleppo; with Fouad M. Fouad (Hippocrates Press, 2020)
To Heal the World: My Life in Medicine, Poetry, and Public Health (Sloan Publishing, 2022)
Links to Sample Works
Columbia College in the City of New York, AB, 1958
Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, MD, 1962
Vermont College of Fine Arts, MFA in Poetry, 1994