In Praise of Manhattan by David M. Katz


We “regard you with our characteristic impatience,” writes David Katz of his fellow New Yorkers in his title poem. Yes; but Katz’s Manhattan turns out to have time for patience, reflection, even silence. Benign precursors—Dick Allen, Louis Zukofsky, Harvey Shapiro, George Oppen, Gary Snyder, Walt Whitman, W. H. Auden—walk through Katz’s streets, a poetic neighborhood as gritty, varied, and magical with possibility as Katz’s beloved Manhattan. This is a book to stride and then stroll through, pausing, savoring, and then moving on to the next encounter or memory. It is a book for which to be grateful. —Rachel Hadas


  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages: 72
  • Language: English
  • Date Published: January, 2020
  • ISBN: 978-1-948017-66-4


From the island of Manhattan, David M. Katz brings poems of elegy and praise, the gifts of a lifetime that embraces a city in constant flux. A formal master whose blank verse glides effortlessly between the eloquent and the colloquial, Katz invokes the greats—Frost, Stevens, Yeats, and more—but, in poem after poem, it is Katz’s own voice that shines most unforgettably. Poems of mid-twentieth-century childhood give way to the struggles of a young journalist and young father, arch commentaries on contemporary culture, and moving meditations on identity and family. His two elegies for the poetic Zen masters Dick Allen and Allen Ginsberg are essential reading. His crown of sonnets, “On Retirement,” is both a flawless tour-de-force and a tender look at the complicated interactions of memory and loss between father and son, the past and the present. Whether listening to Rubber Soul on some long-ago afternoon, hearing the “three beats of the whippoorwill” in his son’s nighttime crying, or walking 34th Street while decades of its history converge with the present moment, David M. Katz remains a poet of rare gifts, a generous spirit whose poems—”those lines in which the living hear the dead”—wrestle with darkness while engaging with life. —Ned Balbo

David M. Katz wears his learning lightly in this extraordinarily accomplished book. His formal excellence shines: a masterful sonnet crown here, a pantoum, a villanelle there. Wide-ranging allusions take us all over the map, yet Katz’s voice, tough but tender, both street-smart and more classically schooled, always plants us firmly back in Mannahatta. In Praise of Manhattan “will give you much more than you have asked” of it, a long-ago bar with “a Bloody Mary and a rack of spicy ribs,” and a superb conversationalist at your side. —Moira Egan


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You sit there in retirement, the shot
Catching the slant of Miami’s morning
Light across your face, your glasses low
Down upon your nose in such a way
That I remember you. There are lush trees
In the background, orange maybe, some fruit
To fill the scene with tropical suggestion.
Your hair’s cut short, looks black. It really seems
Like you, the only one unchanged in all
The endless hours since senior year. You were
The living center of our scene, the one
Whose home was always ours, the place to go
Where each of us could fall apart in all
Our teenage broken-heartedness and shed
The faces we were starting to construct
To show the world. Your couch was generous,
And Rubber Soul was always on, as if
“In My Life” could reflect for each of us
The deaths and lives we might have yet to live.
“But of all these friends and lovers, there
Is no one compares with you,” I might
Have thought one of those winter afternoons,
Before we stirred ourselves for our departures.


David M. KatzAn award-winning financial journalist as well as a poet, David M. Katz was born on New York’s Lower East Side and has lived most of his life in Manhattan. In Praise of Manhattan is his fourth book of poetry. His previous books are Stanzas on Oz and Claims of Home, both published by Dos Madres Press, and The Warrior in the Forest, published by House of Keys Press. Poems of his have appeared in Poetry, The Paris Review, The Hudson Review, The New Criterion, PN Review, The New Republic, The Hopkins Review, Shenandoah, Alabama Literary Review, The Cortland Review, New Verse News, and The Ekphrastic Review. His criticism has appeared in The Hopkins Review, Contemporary Poetry Review, Raintown Review, Jewish Quarterly (UK), and Congress Monthly. A co-host of the Red Harlem Readers series of poetry readings, he is married to the poet Linda Stern.


Additional information

Weight 5.1 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × .25 in