I was grateful and very pleased to learn May 24 that Watching a Man Break a Dog’s Back won the 2023 prize for poetry offered by the Western Canada Jewish Book Awards. The award comes with a $2,000 honorarium.

In my acceptance speech at the awards ceremony, I said that much of my writing matches how Irving Howe, in his history of East European Jewish immigration to America, World of Our Fathers, categorizes modern Jewish life: “a mixture of idealism and skepticism.” I also quoted Alain Brossat and Sylvia Klingberg’s summary, in their Revolutionary Yiddishland: A History of Jewish Radicalism, of the driving force behind people’s involvement in social change, a summary I believe is the concept underlying my writing: “Another world is possible.”

Watching a Man Break a Dog's Back - BookCover

As a sample from the prize-winning book, I read the final poem: “A Meeting with Pete Seeger in a Starbucks in Kennewick, Washington During the 2016 Federal Election.” Since Seeger died in 2014, the famed folksinger appears in the poem as the spirit of the continuing effort, despite ever-new threats and setbacks, to build a more just and happier society.