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Fay Zwicky Biography

(1933– ), Isaac Babel's Fiddle, Kaddish and Other Poems, Kaddish, Hostages and Other Stories

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Australian writer, born in Melbourne, educated at Melbourne University. She was a concert pianist before teaching English at the University of Western Australia, Perth. Her two collections of poetry, Isaac Babel's Fiddle (1975) and Kaddish and Other Poems (1982), reflect her delicate and complex vision of the vicissitudes of life and of the possibilities and limitations of art, a vision in which her own Jewish heritage plays a central part. The title poem of Kaddish is devoted to the death of her father. Hostages and Other Stories, a collection, appeared in 1983. The Lyre in the Pawnshop: Essays on Literature and Survival 19741984 (1986) is a wide-ranging and challenging collection of essays; in the chapter ‘Rumours of Mortality: The Poet's Part’ Zwicky movingly expresses her belief in the centrality of poetry for culture: ‘the poet who has the courage to remember has an important function. For it is through the act of memory that people survive—not by renouncing allegiances, but by retaining them, however painful.’ Zwicky also edited the poetry anthologies Quarry (1981), Journeys (1982), and Procession (1987). Ask Me appeared in 1990; Poems 19701992, a collected edition, was published in 1993.

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