San Francisco has lost an original. I used to see Jack Hirschman frequently at Cafe Trieste where I spent time sipping a cappuccino while reading a book or writing in my journal. Jack an integral piece of the North Beach ambience, was known by every local. His passing is a sad day for San Francisco. His memory will live on.
Excerpted from San Francisco Chronicle 8.22.2021
Jack Hirschman, a scholar and translator in nine languages who threw over a career as a college professor for the life of a proletarian North Beach poet, died Sunday at his home on Union Street in San Francisco.
A former San Francisco poet laureate, Hirschman enjoyed a publishing career that lasted more than 50 years and more than 100 volumes, though half of them were translations.
“The most important thing as a poet is that I worked for the Communist movement for 45 years, and the new class of impoverished and homeless people,” he said in a 2018 interview to inform this obituary, while laying on his double bed on the fourth floor of a walk-up, overlooking Columbus Avenue.
With his push-broom mustache, weathered face, wild hair and outlandish hat, Hirschman was what you looked for in a bohemian, and he lived the part in a single room in the old hotel above Caffe Trieste. Even after marriage upgraded him to a cottage behind an apartment house, Hirschman still came to write every day in his room.