Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Welcome to the Hannah Kahn Poetry Foundation!

Who we are:

The Hannah Kahn Poetry Foundation is dedicated to promoting the love and awareness of poetry, as well as recognizing talent everywhere. The Hannah Kahn Poetry Award is a perpetual annual award of prizes presented through the Florida State Poetry Association. In addition, the Foundation is working toward sponsoring publication of chapbooks by poets throughout Florida . Members of the Foundation have been active in sponsoring and giving readings as well as participating with the Miami Book Fair International by bringing such poets as Gwendolyn Brooks, Yehuda Amichai, and Anthony Hecht to the Miami area to read.
With your support, the Hannah Kahn Poetry Foundation can grow and continue to support poets and poetry everywhere. If you are interested in becoming a member, or would just like to contribute your support, please print and mail the form below. Annual membership dues are $50.

Please note that we only email notices of events. Be sure to update your email address. email Barbra Nightingale: bnighting@aol.com for further info, or Magi Schwartz: formsmagi@aol.com for further info. You may also call Barbra Nightingale, President: 954-961-7126 

The Hannah Kahn Poetry Foundation, Inc. was born with goals to be true to the highest standards of poetry, ethical standards and moral values exemplified by the late poet Hannah Kahn, a resident of Miami for almost 50 years. Ms. Kahn wrote more than 400 poems, and saw many of them published in two of her own books, Eve's Daughter, and Time, Wait; anthologies and national magazines. She was poetry editor for the Miami Herald for 16 years, and winner of the International sonnet competition of the Poetry Society of Great Britain and America , as well as other national and international awards. She was also a friend, teacher, and mentor to many area poets, and leaves a legacy of humanity and sensitivity that continues to inspire and touch her readers. In 1986, Ms. Kahn was asked by Gwendolyn Brooks to read her own poetry into the Congressional Record at the Library of Congress.
Following her death in 1988, a group of her former students and colleagues established the Hannah Kahn Poetry Foundation, which sponsors poetry readings, scholarships, contests, and worthwhile causes. Ms. Kahn’s poetry was mostly very serious, but her persona was self-effacing, with a keen sense of humor. Her person and her memory have been and are still driving forces in South Florida poetry.

The Hannah Kahn Poetry Foundation has sponsored readings by such renowned poets as Gwendolyn Brooks, Yehuda Amichai, Anthony Hecht, Lyn Lifshin, Marvin Bell, Marilyn Hacker, Dorianne Laux (Jan. 2004), and Qunicy Troupe (Feb. 2004).

The Wild Horse Series, is dedicated toward highlighting local talent, and is named after Ms. Kahn’s famous poem, “Ride a Wild Horse.” We are pleased to have a home for this series at Broward College.
Foundation Leadership (2013)
President: Barbra Nightingale: bnighting@aol.com, 954-961-7126
VP and Treasurer:
Magi Schwartz: formsmagi@aol.com
Board Members:
  •  Marzi Kaplan
  • Magi Schwartz
  •  Joan Mazza
  • Lucile Schulklapper
  • Gary Kay
  •  John Childrey
  •   Richard Ryal     
  •  Fred Witkoff (Founding President)
  •  Vivian Witkoff, (Founding Treasurer)
  •   Lenny DellaRocca
  •    Jonathan Rose

     Hannah Kahn was born on June 30, 1911 in New York .  She quit school at age l6 for menial jobs such as being a waitress and wrapping gifts at Macy's.  She earned her G.E.D. in her fifties and graduated from college in her sixties.  All the while she worked full time for a local furniture manufacturer, beginning in 1936 as a clerk and ending up as manager of their showroom until her retirement in 1987.  In the 1960's, she served as Poetry Editor for the Miami Herald and was very active with the local ARC (Association for Retarded Citizens).  In addition to raising her own family (two sons and a daughter), she always found time to encourage and assist a wide variety of students and friends with their poetry efforts.  She pursued many time-consuming projects such as judging national poetry contests for high school contestants and giving poetry readings both locally and nationally.  She always had time for others and was a very devoted grandmother to her five grandchildren, as well as being a devoted mother to her handicapped daughter, Vivian, who resided with Hannah right up to the end of Hannah's life in February, 1988.  Hannah once remarked to an interviewer that she liked her life, but not necessarily all the facts in her life.  Her poetry was versatile as well as universal, the common denominators being intensity and depth. 

     However, in her personal life, she had a tremendous sense of humor and accepted human frailty in others as well as herself.  She could muster a hearty laugh even when she was the brunt of the humor.   As an artist with words, she would receive an inspiration and grab a pen, and more often than not, "a poem was born."   Undoubtedly, her most famous poem was/is "Ride a Wild Horse," which has been reprinted in several high school and college textbooks throughout the United States.  The poem has a special appeal to young and old. 

Ride a wild horse
with purple wings
striped yellow and black
except his head
which must be red.
Ride a wild horse
against the sky
hold tight to his wings
before you die
whatever else you leave undone—
once ride a wild horse
into the sun. 

      An example of her self-effacement is contained in her biographically accurate poem called “FAMILY TREE”:  

My grandfather: 
boots and vodka
beard and bible;
bitter winter,
sled and stable. 
My grandmother:
Had no dowry
for her daughter—
sent her far
across the water. 
My mother: 
Worked ten hours
for half a dollar,
in a sweat shop—
met a scholar.
My father:
Lived by books,
by words, by art—
but the landlord
had no heart. 
I am theirs,
in part—and double—
gave my mother
lots of trouble. 

      During World War II, she wrote a poem called "Soldier's Wife."  The editor of Stars & Stripes incorrectly assumed that Hannah had a husband in the military and requested her permission to reprint it for the benefit of active duty personnel around the world.  This particular poem about deep love was an example of Hannah 's ability to share the feelings of women trying to send an emotional message to their husbands serving abroad: 

Soldier’s Wife 
If ever, tired to exhaustion,
you think that you hear
a voice through the sound of fire,
the thunder of war,
know that the voice is mine
reaching through space;
know that the word is love,
that the word is there.  
If ever you march in the rain
cold to the bone
and suddenly ache with a need
that you cannot bear,
and the sky sends a shaft of light
that rips through the air,
then know it is I who call,
it is I who cry,
and the word that I speak is love
and the word will not die. 

     One of Hannah 's poems, “Time of Snow,” won the national award from the Poetry Society of America.  Any adult who has lost a parent could identify with these beautiful words so eloquently expressed:  

I think of it now
when the wind is soft
and a lavender bough
of lilac touches
my face as I pass
and the sky sends shadows
over the grass.
Strange that it took me
so long to know
that my mother welcomed
the time of snow.
     (An interesting side note is that Hannah loved doing the Double Crostic Puzzles contained on the back page of the Saturday Review of Literature.  As she filled in some of the words, she experienced a feeling of familiarity until she realized that the content of the puzzle was her own poem, “Time of Snow.”)
     As the writer of this article, I would like to take poetic liberty by closing with my Hannah Kahn favorite, a poem which illustrates her deep ethnocentrism and appreciation for all cultures having their influence on her own humanity.  The poem is called “Heritage”:           
Someday I shall gather up
all the pieces of myself;
Something of the song that stayed
in my mind when Nero played;
Something that I left in Greece.
Could it be that Socrates
drinking hemlock, knew that I
would someday be afraid to die
and drank the bitter brew for me
to prove the final victory?
Someday I shall gather up
all the pieces of myself;
Something Sappho tried to say
when she spoke to me one day;
Something Moses said for me,
chanting, “Set my people free.”
Mary crying at the cross
while I shared her grief and loss.
The wall of China holds and stands
because I built it with my hands.
I was born long years ago
with roots in towns I do not know;
Roots that grow within my mind
with thorns and blossoms intertwined—
I who in another age
used a tablet for a page,
look up to the sky and know
that I am part of long ago.
Bio by Dan Kahn, son of Hannah Kahn.

Books by Hannah Kahn

Eve's Daughter
ISBN: 0960234012
Format: Hardcover
Pub. Date: December 1981
Publisher: Hannah Kahn

Books can be ordered from 
2231 N. 52nd Ave.
Hollywood, FL  33021

ISBN: 0813007755
Format: Hardcover, 76pp
Pub. Date: January 1984
Publisher: University Press of Florida

 HKPF Application Form

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Enclosed is my check for $50.

Donations are tax-deductible: 65-0126998 A receipt will be sent when we receive your payment.

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Please make checks payable to the Hannah Kahn Poetry Foundation (HKPF) .
Please mail to:
Magi Schwartz, Treasurer
4970 Sheridan St.
Hollywood, FL  33021