Famous San Francisco poet and activist Jack Hirschman dies, group he co-founded reports


Jack Hirschman, a former San Francisco poet laureate, activist and famous Beat Generation supporter, died at his home in the city on Sunday, the organization in which he was co-founder and director said. He was 87 years old.

Speaking on behalf of the World Poetry Movement, Ataol Behramoglu said the organization learned of Hirschman’s death minutes before he was supposed to speak during the last of their regular online interviews as a committee. coordination of the WPM.

“[It] is a great shock to us, close friends and fellow activists, ”Behramoglu wrote. “It was a great loss for American and world poetry.”

City Lights Books, Green Apple Books and many more in San Francisco paid tribute to Hirschman on Twitter upon hearing the news.

“Jack made regular visits to our store and our publishing office before the pandemic, brightening our day with a joke or a story”, City lights tweeted. “His presence in North Beach will be missed so much. He read poetry regularly until today at various virtual events. We love you, Jack.”

Born in New York City, Hirschman began as an editor for the Associated Press and then taught at UCLA in the 1970s before being fired for encouraging his students to resist conscription during the Vietnam War. He moved to North Beach shortly thereafter, where he wrote and published his first volume of poetry, “A Correspondence of Americans,” and was deeply involved in the literary scenes of Caffe Trieste and City Lights.

Hirschman was associate editor of the left-wing literary journal “Left Curve,” formed the San Francisco Writers’ Union of the Left, and in addition to his own poetry, translated dozens of international works into English, including the poems of a young Joseph Stalin.

He was named poet laureate in 2006 and in the same year created the San Francisco International Poetry Festival. Three years later, he became a poet in residence at the San Francisco Public Library.

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