Over the Edge

Norbert Hirschhorn


Sample Passages

  • Letter to My Parents

    Letter to My Parents Long Gone From 853 Riverside Drive

    I think of you often,
    especially on your birthdays
    (July 19, November 29),
    each of you divine,
    your spirits nesting inside me.

    You gave me life. Full stop.

    What you endured to see me through:
    abandoning your parents to the Shoah,
    uprooted, flight, turmoil in America.

    And I, know-it-all, hardly knew
    what you went through — I fled,
    abandoned you, even as
    you stayed faithful to me.

    My most sorrowful apologies,

    Your firstborn son


Over the Edge, is the third collection by Norbert Hirschhorn published by Holland Park Press.

It’s a very personal collection inspired by Hirshhorn’s move back to the USA after having divided his time between London and Beirut for quite a few years.

Moving to a new place puts things into a new perspective and makes one aware of passing time and can lead to a form of alienation. Themes like these play a role in the first set of poems.

In 1944, the Hirschhorn family emigrated from England to the USA, to an apartment in New York. The very personal poems in the 853 Riverside Drive section reflect on this event from the father’s, mother’s and son’s point of view with a lament about the sister who never made it to New York.

Aspects of being in exile are being explored in the third section drawing on Hirschhorn’s roots in the Middle East and Finland. This section also features a few poems by his friend Fouad M Fouad, an exile from Aleppo, co-translated from the Arabic.

The last section puts everything in a wider perspective based on what’s gone before, different spiritual experiences and memory.

The collection ends with the moving Letter to My Parents Long Gone which you can read from the top of this page.

Enjoy these wide-ranging poems in Norbert Hirschhorn’s characteristic style.

The Poems

A House in the Woods

Death in the Air
A Burnt Offering
Against Solitude
Report From Inside a Snow Globe
Earth’s Hum
Until the End of Time
Sailing With the Pleiades
My Many Moons
Anatomy Lesson: The Philtrum
Virginia Creeper
A Disquisition on Time
The Call
For Men Who Lie Awake at Night
A Train Engineer’s Last Interview
A House in the Woods
Dark-Time Winter Blues
Finlandia Wood
The Blesséd Mother

853 Riverside Drive
(New York City)

Migrants to 853 Riverside Drive
Look, We Made It to America:
My Mother at 853 Riverside Drive
She Who Never Made It to 853 Riverside Drive
My Mother Tries on a New Floral Housecoat at 853 Riverside Drive
Me, at 853 Riverside Drive
Calling Home to 853 Riverside Drive
Over the Edge at 853 Riverside Drive
My Father Escapes 853 Riverside Drive
Our Last Meeting at 853 Riverside Drive
My Father Returns to Die at 853 Riverside Drive
Lost in the Maze at 853 Riverside Drive

Brothers in Exile

For I am a Brick
From Our Balcony, Dhour Choueir, Lebanon
The Young Guide at a Beirut Museum
Rita, in Egypt
Vilhelm Hammershøi: Interiors
Deir el Qamar
Memento Mori
One Thousand and One Nights
On Misreading the First Verse of an Ancient Hebrew Hymn
Brothers in Exile
Déjà Vu
Excerpts from Diary of a Loss

In the Beginning

You & I
I Dream of Him in Lightness and Dust
The Tahara
Lessons from a Perfect Life
To Aila Maayan
Noah on the Mississippi
In the Beginning
Letter to My Parents Long Gone from 853 Riverside Drive

Over the Edge will be published on 22 June 2023 and we will celebrate this with a launch party on Friday 15 September in the October Gallery London.

ISBN: 9781907320996
Number of pages: 67
Price: £0

Publishing date 22 June 2023


‘Taking on both the personal and metaphysical, these meticulously focused meditations grapple with love, memory, the life of the spirit and of the body, the quotidian and the profound. Hirschhorn’s poems travel to the borders of the universe and beyond; they carry us ‘over the edge’ and into the mortal void. A mature and searching work that takes you by the hand and walks with you through doubt, and darkness  into wonder and mystery.’ – Jacqueline Saphra

‘A vast small book, multi-vocal, rooted in past and present , in Mittel-Europa, New York, and Lebanon, everywhere humane and brotherly in its words and vision.’ – Marilyn Hacker

‘In Over the Edge, Norbert Hirschhorn’s thoughtfully crafted poetry beautifully balances measured wisdom with lively curiosity about life’s complexities and contradictions. His observations are on a scale that ranges from the entire Galaxy to the inside of a snow globe or the world as seen by a house-brick; and there is always room for God to make an appearance. The many human-sized poems in this collection include a haunting sequence of dreamlike and filmic recollections of growing up in New York and some rich depictions of scenes and situations – both peaceful and perilous – set in Europe and the Middle East.’ – Michael Bartholomew-Biggs

‘A tough, impressive book. Such history–such histories– jammed into those taut lines. Your family’s flight from Vienna, and sorrows and strain in New York; your perilous growing up; the Syrian horrors…

It’s all striking. Your father’s story, assembled and grieved in the sequence here, is heart-wrenching, and you present it with clarity and compassion. His kaddish for you...What a turn.

I also find myself particularly gripped by A Burnt Offering. Perhaps because these last few weeks have created so many new graves, such monstrosities, which show no sign of letting up.’ – Rosanna Warren

‘Hirschhorn gives us the measure of his wisdom in poems that are cosmopolitan in outlook and fuelled with curiosity.’ – Neal Leadbeater on Write Out Loud

‘Death in small doses’ is a clean, harrowing phrase – it would almost make a fitting title for the collection itself – and is symptomatic both of Hirschhorn’s unerring eye for the telling moment, phrase or image, and his inability to sideline that which other poets might shy away from, or – to use Larkin’s phrase about Hardy’s poems, but inverted – “jack up” to greater significance than the sadness or grief they hold in themselves.’ – James Roderick Burns on London Grip

‘Dramatic in the best sense of the word, Over the Edge is written to be spoken and meant to be heard. With a physician’s candor and the complex perspectives of a child of survivors, Hirshhorn offers a roadmap to a vacation that few of us want to take.’ – Warren Woessner on Rain Taxi