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Psychologists say that in a family of Holocaust survivors, there is one child who is the designated “Memorial Candle,” the one to whom the survivor imparts the experience of the Holocaust. Alan Kaufman believes he was nominated to be the one to receive his mother’s suffering, anguish, and disappointments. He recounts the poignant story of retracing his mother’s escape from the Nazis, from Paris to the South of France and then into the North of Italy. Inexplicably, his traveling companions turned out to be two men who were both sons of Nazi soldiers. A deep healing took place for all three of them on that journey as they found the very family who took his mother in and saved her life. He speaks of adventures in Israel as a journalist. He describes his spiral down into alcoholism and his journey back through twelve step programs to his writing. In a twist of fate, he met poet Jim Brodey while sharing a bottle on a park bench in Manhattan. Brodey was able to get through Kaufman’s alcoholic fog when he said, “I’m dying. I have AIDS. I’m a heroin addict, and I’m an alcoholic…I’m not gonna get out of here, but you can.” Kaufman is shaken and even tearful as he tells the story of a dying man who could care enough to want to save him. Alan Kaufman is now 23 years sober and is an award winning writer and a poet compared to Kerouac, Henry Miller and even Ernest Hemingway. (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)
Alan Kaufman is the Bronx-born son of a French-Jewish Holocaust survivor, and a recovering alcoholic with 23 years of sobriety. He’s a former Israeli combat soldier and a novelist, memoirist, and poet. He was instrumental in the development of the Spoken Word movement in literature. He’s Dean of the Free University of San Francisco.
He’s the author and editor of many books including:
To find out more about the work of Alan Kaufman go to: www.pen.org/alan-kaufman.
Host: Justine Willis Toms Interview Date: 11/29/2013 Program Number: 3488
From Album: Miho: Journey to the Mountain Artist: Paul Winter Consort 2010 Living Music #LMU-242
Opening Essay: Track 09 Bendir & Heckelphone Music Break 1: Track 06 Cedar Grove Dance Music Break 2: Track 11 Singing to the Mountain Music Break 3: Track 09 Bendir & Heckelphone reprise
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