This year, I strongly encouraged my mom not to buy me a Christmaka present, because frankly, she does enough for me all year long, and the economy is crap, and I don’t have space for more stuff anyway. But at her house for St. Nick’s Day, I got two remarkable gifts.
First, my mom surprised me with the above book, Samuel Menashe‘s New and Selected Poems. The book came out in 2005 after Menashe won the first “Neglected Masters” award. As a rather tart review in the Times noted, awards in poetry are a dime a dozen, and the idea of creating an award for a poet that didn’t get enough awards is bordering on the absurd. But I’ve already got a soft spot in my cynical heart of steel for Menashe, who was apparently lingering around the bookstore near his book when he approached my mother.
She was buying a Christmas present for my cousin and when Menashe pulled his book off the shelf and encouraged her to buy it, she was going to get it for him. But when the poet offered to sign it, she let her Selfish Gene take over and prioritized someone who shared more of her genetic code: moi!
Not only did Menashe sign the book for me, but apparently he said, “you know, there are some blank pages at the back…why don’t I write more poems?” So not only did he write me a little note, but he also wrote me 4, barely-legibly sprawled, new poems. This is the best present ever because it basically (new poetry + book + thoughtfulness) x (really good)^2(story). In other words, blog material.
The second best Christmas present I got was this:
I brought a new friend to Christmas. He said two important things: I left him alone with my grandmother and Aunt for a bit and when I re-entered the room I overheard him saying, “I feel like I’m in a Woody Allen movie.” Everybody knows that all Jews (even those who shamelessly hold Christmas dinners) desperately want to think of themselves as “Woody Allen Type” Jews. Basically, I can die happy now, because all my hyper-neurotic dreams have come to fruition.