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Laike and Nahum

A Poem in Two Voices

by (author) Ruth Panofsky

Inanna Publications
Initial publish date
Apr 2007
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2007
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Laike and Nahum: A Poem in Two Voices is a long, narrative poem based loosely on the lives of the poet’s maternal grandparents, Russian Jewish immigrants to Montreal in the early part of the twentieth century. Her grandmother arrived in Canada as a child; her grandfather was already a young man in his early twenties upon his arrival in this country. The poem is inspired by the intense courtship and sixty-year marriage of the poet’s grandparents, the experiences that necessitated their departure for North America, and their difficult settlement in Montreal. The poem is told in two voices that frame, overlap, embellish, and question one another. Laike’s voice and Nahum’s voice are heard in counterpoint across a poem that probes the hold of culture, tradition, and gender expectations on women and men in the rapidly changing society of Montreal during the twentieth century. Panofsky’s work charts the emotional and physical trials of impoverished immigrants who were deeply affected by the Great Depression and the Second World War and who struggled to establish themselves in Canada. This volume unveils the sacrifices and victories of a Jewish, working-class couple that experienced firsthand the lash of racism and the balm of community.

About the author

Ruth Panofsky is an award-winning poet who lives and writes in Toronto, where she teaches Canadian Literature and Culture at Ryerson University. She is the author of The Force of Vocation: The Literary Career of Adele Wiseman (2006) and The Literary Legacy of the Macmillan Company of Canada: Making Books and Mapping Culture (2012). Her award-winning critical edition of the collected poetry of Miriam Waddington appeared in two volumes in 2014 and, most recently, she edited The Spice Box: Canadian Jewish Writing (2017). Her newest work, Toronto Trailblazers: Women in Canadian Publishing, which focuses on key twentieth-century publishers, editors, and literary agents, was published in 2019. She is also an award-winning poet. She received the Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Award for Laike and Nahum: A Poem in Two Voices (2007). Radiant Shards: Hoda's North End Poems, her third volume of verse, received a Hadassah-Brandeis Institute Research Award.

Ruth Panofsky's profile page

Other titles by Ruth Panofsky