Ninth and Race - Granta Magazine

Granta magazine - 7th November, 2013

Prostitution, gambling, fencing, contract murder, loan-sharking, political corruption and crime of every sort were the daily trade in Philadelphia’s Tenderloin, the oldest part of town. The Kevitch family ruled this stew for half a century, from Prohibition to the rise of Atlantic City. My mother was a Kevitch.

Not all Jewish boys become doctors, lawyers, violinists and Nobelists: some sons of immigrants from the Pale became criminals, often as part of or in cahoots with Italian crime families. A recent history calls them ‘tough Jews’: men like Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel, who organized and ran Murder Incorporated for Lucky Luciano in the ‘twenties and ‘thirties, and Arnold Rothstein, better known as Meyer Wolfsheim in The Great Gatsby, who fixed the 1919 baseball World Series. The Kevitch family were tough Jews. [Read more ...]

PN Review 211 - In Conversation with Dan Burt

PN Review 211 - May/June 2013

ALASTAIR BEDDOW: I imagine very few people have had a path through life quite like yours: you grew up in an immigrant family in Philadelphia, read English at Cambridge, have enjoyed a very successful career in law and business, and only latterly published your first full-length poetry collection, We Look Like This. Tell me, first, how and why you decided to read English at St John’s, Cambridge, where you are now an Honorary Fellow.

DAN BURT: Accidents both. I was a middling secondary school student, but a first-class tough, and an unlikely candidate for admission to even a third-rate US college. Nevertheless, a high school history teacher took an interest in me and sponsored my application to a small Philadelphia Catholic workingmen’s college, LaSalle, in whose night programme he taught. My first week there I fell in love with literature, especially English poetry. My grades improved, and three and a half years later LaSalle’s English faculty hoped I’d be their first graduate to study for a PhD in English at an Ivy League university. [Read more ...]

The Sunday Times - Poet's Corner - Slowly Sounds The Bell

13th July 2013

Nunc lento sonitu dicunt, morieris.
Now this bell tolling softly for another;
Says to me, Thou must die.

Donne, Meditation XVII

A midnight ring from half a world away
Tolls my only brother's sudden death.
Line dead, handset re-cradled, sleep returns;
I wake to find the bedclothes scarcely messed. [Read more ...]