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Naomi Jaffa

Naomi Jaffa

Naomi Jaffa worked for the annual Aldeburgh Poetry Festival from 1993 until 2014. Thomas Lux was her choice of poet to deliver the closing reading at her last festival as Director. Tom made his UK debut at Aldeburgh in 2000, returning for the Poetry Prom in 2003, and in 2006 to co-tutor a residential course with Christopher Reid. In 2004, Tom invited Naomi to read at Poetry@Tech in Atlanta. Her second chapbook is published this year.    

Special Remembrance of Tom

During his astonishingly memorable reading at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival in 2000, Thomas Lux was rapturous about finally being on the island in which John Keats had walked. "I can die happy," he said. "If whatever takes us wants to take me right now, that's OK by me." (As Festival Director, I'd have been less enthusiastic...) Fast forward to 2003 and Tom's second visit to England, for our first Poetry Prom at the historic Snape Maltings Concert Hall, just up the road from Aldeburgh, in Suffolk. The sight of him striding onto that big stage in his effortlessly-cool white linen shirt, black silk jacket and faded jeans was a moment of sheer joy. Because of course the capacity 800-strong audience fell in love with poems they'd never in all their lives expected to hear. Lux signed hundreds of books to new readers that night. But actually the enduring pleasure of that trip happened in London, out of the limelight. It was a scorching August afternoon when Dean Parkin and I took Tom to visit Keats House in Hampstead, and then on up to Kenwood and Hampstead Heath where we searched and searched in blinding sunshine before eventually agreeing it must be this tree that Keats' nightingale sang in. Tom was beyond happy.

The Bandage Factory

Our bandage factory's busy: boxcar after boxcar
of gauze-only trains
empty at the east side unloading dock.
The women wash and fold and sterilize.
The men make the big looms boom
in the bandage room.
And the boys and girls (when we're busy
no one goes to school) stack
and sweep and gather scraps
that we ship downstate
to the babies' and children's bandage works.
On the west side loading dock,
at five o'clock,
when we've filled a whole train,
we like to stand there
while it pulls away
(some of the children wave)
and watch our bandages go
out into the world
where the wounds reside
which they were made to dress.




from The Street of Clocks, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2001

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