November 15, 2007
by Reb Yudel
So it's particularly gratifying that the Jewish Week seem to love him too. From their guide to fall books:
Open “From the Coffee House of Jewish Dreamers” (Ben Yehuda Press) in one direction, and you can read Isidore Century’s “Poems of Wonder and Wandering”; from the other, “Poems of the Weekly Torah Portions.” On one side of the cover, the author is drinking coffee with the Cyclone behind him; on the flip side, he’s got his coffee at the same table, with the Kotel behind.
Isidore Century is a wonderful poet. He writes of traveling to Coney Island; visiting Israel and returning there to the land of Yiddish in which he grew up; his father, who escaped from Poland and made his way illegally to the U.S., where he became an official in the Painter’s Union; and about his own reluctant and penetrating faith, “I keep running from a God/in whom I do not believe/hoping he catches me.”
His poems are brief stories: they’re funny, deeply observed, without pretension, written with a knowingness and rhythm of things old and new. Those related to Torah readings are poetic, original midrashim. He brings the figures of the Bible to Central Park, or places the poet in Egypt and service as Joseph’s valet and butler, adding his distinctive accent to the text.