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  • Michael Milgraum

Poetry of Jewish Grandfather, Son and Granddaughter Featured in New Book

When psychologist, Michael Milgraum, first read poetry written by his eleven-year-old daughter, Rena, he found it hard to believe that such maturity of expression originated in one so young. Upon reflection, he realized that it was to be expected. From a young age, Rena had a philosophical bent and liked to ask big questions. But there was another reason that Michael should have known that his daughter was a natural poet—two generations of poets preceded her.

Michael’s father, Leonard Milgraum, has been writing poetry since he was ten years of age (he now is 84). Leonard has penned thousands of poems, ranging in themes from religious, to humorous, to pastoral, to love, to mystical. In 2005 he published a volume titled I Am a Jew, which is a 170-page collection of his Jewish-themed poetry. This book examines the multifaceted Jewish experience, in terms of the history, spiritual longings, identity and accomplishments of the Jewish people.

Michael also started writing poetry at a young age, and he has always maintained the identity of a writer, even though his professional career led him in other directions. He started his career as an attorney, but was dissatisfied with the adversarial nature of the profession and went on to become a psychologist. He has written poetry throughout his life, in order to sort through his own feelings or express his deepest convictions. He recently published a novel called Never Forget My Soul, which examines the multigenerational effects of the Holocaust and two Jews’ journeys to find psychological and spiritual healing from this painful past.

As Rena continued to write poetry and share it with family and friends, Michael decided it was time to bring Rena’s work to a larger audience. Then Michael was struck by an idea—if Rena was influenced by two generations of poets before her, why not create an anthology of poems from all three writers? Rena liked the idea and proposed that it be titled Poetry of Three Generations.

Poetry of Three Generations has just been released by Guidelight Books and is available through major book sellers. Spirituality, relationships and nature are important themes in this delightful volume. The book is divided into four sections: “Parents and Children,” “The Art of Living,” “Nature,” and “Connection and Disconnection.” Within each section the three generations are intermingled, making the book read like a lively conversation between the poets. In the book, each poet exhibits his/her own unique style, personality and perspective. Leonard’s poetry is lyrical, inspirational and warm. Michael brings deep psychological insight, challenging readers to find more meaningful engagement with life. Rena’s voice is filled with innocence and celebration of the beauty and richness of the world. She reminds us to wonder at the miracle and artistry of a tree, freshly fallen snow or a newborn baby.

Although this book can be read and enjoyed by individuals from every background, it has something special to offer Jews, due to the theme of Jewish spirituality that can be found in many of the poems. The book begins with a parable (written by Michael), which is based on the Biblical story of Noah’s sons. This parable expresses the Jewish understanding of how poetry and words can unite a fractured world and a disconnected self. Other Jewish themes found in the book include submission to God’s will, appreciation of His blessings, Jewish prayer and emerging from isolation.

The Jewish soul that breathes through these pages indicates that not only the art of poetry was passed down in this family, as a precious family heirloom; love of the Jewish heritage has been faithfully transmitted as well.

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