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Mandelstam, Myself Included

CHAPTER 28: Epilogue
CHAPTER 29: Down in the Orchard
CHAPTER 30: The Basses
CHAPTER 31: Ezekiel
CHAPTER 32: Iraq
―The Golden City‖ was published in Yefief.
Like all of her visual and verbal art, Mary Susannah Robbins is full of surprises. I have
never met Susannah in person, though we have spent many hours together on the
telephone. During these conversations, which span more than a decade, I knew her as an
extraordinarily engaged antiwar activist, writer, and editor who was making powerful and
unique contributions to the contemporary movement to rescue us from the black hole of
endless wars. One cannot talk for long with Susannah without sensing the profound
compassion that drives her passion for peace. As a contributor to a couple of her splendid
books--Against the Vietnam War: Writings by Activists and Peace Not Terror: Leaders of
the Antiwar Movement Speak Out Against Foreign Policy Post 9/11--I was at first
skeptical about the prospects of her actually getting publishers and an audience for these
two volumes amid the deafening drumbeats of war that continually thunder across our
mass media. But her profound humanistic faith and dedication enabled her to make these
books into material forces that have allowed many readers to hear a very different kind of
music and to see possible ways out of war's cesspools and quicksands.
In our conversations about these books, only bit by bit did I get hints that Susannah—
always modest and unassuming—was also a poet and visual artist with many highly
recognized creative achievements. This present volume gives all of us an opportunity to
range through some of the dimensions of her creative imagination.
The prose sketches and stories are a swirling kaleidoscope of memory and fantasy, in
which the most concrete and telling details of everyday experience swirl around a quest
for the meaning of individual and social life. As she put it in the closing words of the
sketch titled ―Flavor‖:
―I have to go back to reality now,‖ Emil had said after lunch. I had felt surprised and
disappointed, knowing that all he was going back to was a cluttered apartment.
He had smiled at me. ―You have to distinguish between significance and reality,‖ he said
Could I?