Tuesday, April 19, 2011

An Interview With Ed Galing About Puschcarts and Peddlers

After 93 years of living and writing, Mr. Galing now has a full-length book of poetry titled Pushcarts and Peddlers published by Poetica Publishing Company. With seventy chapbooks and numerous poems published throughout the small press world, it is my pleasure to interview Mr. Galing again about his most recent collection.


1.) Mr. Galing, how did this full length collection come into being?


The poems in the book were published in various magazines—a lot of them—I just wanted to make one book of them. A lot more poems didn’t get in but it’s ok. Most did.





2.) How did you come up with the title, “Pushcarts and Peddlers?” The cover art by Eugene Ivanov is fantastic, a man with a food cart is perched on the hat of a man looking out at us on the cover. Can you tell us more about the artist and the cover’s inspiration in addition to the title? Is it from your experiences in New York as a young boy?

I do not know the artist. It was chosen by the publisher. He is well known and did the cover for free. It’s fantastic! It was all done by him but [is a] true picture.





3.) I’ve marked too many poems to include them all in this interview so I will only ask about a few of them. The first one the introductory poem you wrote and included before the table of contents titled “the world” which I’ll post along with the question. I feel it is a poem that is very appropriate at any day or time, in any century. What was the inspiration behind this poem?

the world

we live in one world
we share each other’s pain

we must learn
to love and respect

one another’s heritage…

when it comes down
to the meaning of Judaism

it is that all of us
live in a world of

brotherhood

sharing and caring
living the good life…


The poem calls attention to all faiths, for respect. Each religion is important. I feel that way always. Sadly there are so many battles over religion and deaths, WW2 showed how it can be. The poem just wrote itself from the heart.





4.) “prayers on the rooftop” describes your father’s weekly ritual praying on the rooftop. Your collection is based on family and Judaism, can you explain what it meant to you to see your father pray each week this way? How did it affect your own beliefs in religion and devotion?

prayers on the rooftop

my father was a deeply
religious man,
short with a black beard,
and a moustache,
came from the old country
of Russia, with my mother
settled down on broome
street, on the lower east
side…
became a janitor of the
building,
went to synagogue religiously
without fail,
but when it came to friday
evening, he made a special
trip up the tenement stairs,
to the top landing, where
he opened the door, and
walked out on the tar roof,
opened up his prayer book, put
on his shawl, and began to
bob back and forth, intoning
hebrew prayers from the old
testament, until the sun
went down and the moon came up as it
always does, and the stars smiled
on him, and his words of prayer
rang out, all over the roof,
all over the street, and the wind
picked it up, and wafted it away,
out there in the air, and who
knows how many who were walking
the streets heard the sound of
reverence coming from the roof,
and looked up to see where,
and it was almost like the
second coming of the messiah…
if ever anyone needed that,
it was us.


I can still see him up on the roof. I have a photo of him up there. I thought he was very religious and respected him for it. A special man! The poem here has been published in other magazines in various forms. It is a very powerful poem and true. The truth is there. Where better to pray to GOD??





5.) Many people, including myself, are not very familiar with Judaism or its traditions. We are also not familiar with words and phrases in Yiddish and I thought this particular poem was an interesting and light-hearted one. I would call a “shadchen” a “match-maker.” You mention that this woman didn’t need a computer or a directory, a local woman who knew her neighborhood so well she knew who she might pair together. Can you talk more about the “shadchen” and how this poem, “what ever happened to the old fashioned shadchen…?” came into being?

what ever happened to the old fashioned shadchen…?

there was always
this woman who introduced
men and women
widows and widowers
old and older

and she needed no computer
or large directory

only a nose for news in the
neighborhood

who died… who got divorced…
who just came from the old
old country…

who was lonely and in despair…
who was looking for love and a companion…

she worked alone
the shadchen…

she invited couples to tea…
laughed with them, made them
feel good,

soon she had them laughing,
holding hands, making dates,

oh, shadchen, dear shadchen,
oh, dear mrs. Shadchen,

are you still somewhere around
these days?

oh shadchen my dear, oh shadchen.
Somewhere out there,
please appear.



Yes, the “Schadchen” was once an important part of getting together. No computers back then. Just a woman on a mission! She is gone forever, alas. Gone with the TIMES! A lot of women were “shadchens”—word of mouth! Part of the Jewish way of life back then.



6.) Your book begins with a dedication to your beloved wife, Esther, who passed away July 2006, and you have written poems in tribute to her. It is rare in this day and age to learn of couples who truly grow old together, who stay until “death do us part” which is also the titled of your poem: “’til death do us part.” In a marriage spanning sixty years, what are some things you can share with us about her personality and her character that you loved and adored in your years together?

‘til death do us part

when my wife died, i
stood there alone after
the mourners had left.
in the stillness of the graveyard,
i began to weep, for
i knew i would never see
my wife again.
we had been married
over sixty years.
i don’t believe in death,
never have,
so i put my hand in supplication,
and suddenly she came to me
as if from the dead,
took my hand, and
we both walked to our car.
and when i got in,
she slid in besides me,
looking as radiant as ever,
so young and pretty,
and she smiled and said,
“let’s get away from here.
i am not dead, i am with you.”
as i drove away,
my hand held hers,
and she hummed a tune,
and i looked out the window
at the trees and the lake,
and then suddenly,
just as quickly,
she was gone…
no where near me.
she had vanished,
and i was alone,
wondering what had happened,
still smelling her perfume,
thinking of how we both
were twenty years old again.
and i felt the tears coming so fast,
i could hardly see
the roadway.


She was beautiful, like a movie star! Also, gentle and smiled a lot! She was a wonderful wife, mother, friend, and everything I always needed! I miss her. She didn’t like “old age,” neither did I! I wrote a book about her when she died. Full of pictures young and old! Going out all over, everywhere—she loved to dance (we always did)—the book is a treasure—everyone has one in the family. Thanks for the interview.




Mr. Galing, thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed and congratulations on the publication of your first full-length book of poetry, you more than deserve it. I look forward to seeing more poems and I wish you continued good health.

If you enjoyed this interview and the poems sampled here, you may purchase a copy of Pushcarts and Peddlers by Ed Galing for $18.00 at:
http://www.poeticapublishing.com/apps/webstore/products/show/2246275

Thanks always for reading, please click in tomorrow for more Poems Found by Poet Hound…

2 comments:

Julie said...

I'm a big Ed Galing fan, but I didn't know he had a full length book out. Thank you for the info! A great interview, too.

Douglas Holder said...

I am sorry to say I was informed by his son that he passed away in his home at 96 http://edgaling.blogspot.com