Franca Iacovetta & Cynthia Wright, with thanks to A.F. Moritz
…the new Toronto comrades engulfed you,
a happy flood, and carried you
like a spirit in its pinnace, its canoe,
on a shining spate, a spring rill
of refreshing flame through a magic land
to that evening’s party.
When the pandemic came, we were planning a symposium to mark the 80th anniversary of Emma Goldman’s 1940 death in Toronto. As historians researching the intergenerational memory of Goldman’s Toronto exile, we wanted to bring together scholars, activists, and cultural workers involved in new research and critical engagement with Goldman and anarchist history. Over two years later, in October 2022, we finally hosted that University of Toronto-sponsored Symposium, and a performance by the Theatre Group of the Toronto Workers’ History Project of Craig Heron’s Emma’s Last Visit (directed by Aida Jordão) at St. Vladimir Institute.
But the event’s most explicitly commemorative moment was a reading by A.F. Moritz, Poet Laureate of Toronto (2019-23), of Inheriting Your Life: Homage to Emma Goldman, an original poem written at our request. A prolific, award-winning poet, Moritz is also co-author, with Theresa Moritz, of The World’s Most Dangerous Woman: A New Biography of Emma Goldman (Subway 2001), the only full-length study of Goldman’s three residencies in Toronto during the 1920s and 1930s. Our invitation to Moritz fit with our project on how generations of activists and cultural producers have recovered, invoked, and remade Goldman and what that tells us about the continuities, discontinuities, and complexities of anarchist history. We hoped, too, that a poem written by Toronto’s Poet Laureate to mark a major anniversary of Goldman’s death could help bring wider attention to Goldman’s activism in Toronto and that of the multilingual community of Yiddish, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, and other comrades who lived the revolution as best they could. Continue reading