Postcards to Grandad – a Family Romance

In this prose poem Phil Cohen explores the ‘other scenes’ of his family history, the stories he was not told about where he came from. Many of them were about the mysterious, and in his eyes romantic figure of his father’s father, a Jewish revolutionary from Vitebsk who emigrated to live in the Glasgow Gorbals during the period of Red Clydeside before and after the First World War.

The narrative draws on elements of this family romance, supplemented by what was later learnt about the grandfather’s actual life, and meshed in with aspects of the author’s own biography. Through this interleaving of stories in which elements of fact andfantasy become merged, Cohen sets out to examine his complicated heritage as a ‘Mischling’.

The text is accompanied by a scattering of graphics from John Wallett. These are not illustrations so much as typo/graphical asides upon the narrative themes, supplementaries with a skew of meaning in their own right.

‘Postcards to Grandad is a bold experiment in what happens when a writer and an artist from different backgrounds combine creative forces to tell the story of a diasporic journey across generations and cultures, in which recurrent elements of tragedy and farce interact with the contingencies of shifting places and times.‘


“A troubled yet exuberant vignette of imagined selfhood, insideout to the world and history, in which old age and boyhood form a circling dance of inheritance, suffering and survival.”
 – Les Bell (Author of ‘Archipelagos’ and founder of Mica Press)


“Phil Cohen takes us on a poetic journey into some of the complexities of Jewish diasporic identity, past and present. On the way he explores the intersections, both personal and political of class, gender and ethnicity which continue to shape the way we live now. “
 – Nira Yuval Davis (Israeli Diasporic Jew, Emeritus Professor of Migration, Refugees and Belonging, University of East London)


ISBN: 978-1-9164719-2-4 Price: £8
Published by eyeglass books, April 2019
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