Art, life, and antiques

Art, life, and antiques

Hohokus merchant explores his eclectic beliefs through poetry

Maury Alan Lubman’s face is superimposed on a painting of Mona Lisa on the cover of his book, “Mishagoss.”
Maury Alan Lubman’s face is superimposed on a painting of Mona Lisa on the cover of his book, “Mishagoss.”

You can’t judge a book by its cover, says Maury Alan Lubman of Wayne — poet, former English teacher, and founder and owner of Granny’s Attic Antiques in Hohokus.

A case in point: On the cover of his self-published book “Michagoss,” Mr. Lubman’s face is superimposed on a painting of Mona Lisa.

Strange, but no stranger than the fact that the store proprietor remembers, in detail, the furnishings he saw in his mother’s friend’s apartment when he was only a small child. Or that he was a pre-med student at the University of Kentucky who ended up teaching English in New Milford for nine years, simultaneously opening Granny’s Attic. Or that one of his English professors at Fairleigh Dickinson University taught classes while sitting in the lotus position.

Mr. Lubman says he started writing poetry during the Vietnam years, “when the injustices of war, the poor, and society’s victims became haunting issues.” His poems — a mixed bag of rhymes, prose, metaphors, and messages — are written in user-friendly language. Indeed, he subtitled his book “Poetry for People Who Hate Poetry.”

Many of the poems are declarations of love for the person who served as his muse and inspired him to return to writing. Others express frustration and despair in the face of war and inequality.

Some clearly are Jewish. One, called “Mitzvahs,” expresses the certainty that doing good ultimately will pay off — even if you have to wait a long time. Another, “Prayer,” tells of the poet’s guilt when praying for personal needs in a world with so many truly needy people. Still other poems are universal. In “My Sons,” Mr. Lubman expresses equal concern for young soldiers, scared and standing alone, whether they hail from Israel or Hezbollah.

While the Jewish nature of his work is not overt, Mr. Lubman — an avid reader of books about Judaism — tells the following story. “A local Lubavitch rabbi invited me to dinner, but I told him I wasn’t really religious. I thanked him for the invitation, and gave him a copy of my book.

“The next time I saw him, he said, ‘Maury, you’re more religious than many of my members.’”

Disclaimer: This journalist is not particularly fond of poetry. Still, one work in particular, “Mirror,” did strike an emotional chord, as it conjures up the image of a small child gazing into a mirror, with no idea of what the future will hold.

Clearly, Mr. Lubman — who is now working on a second volume — identifies closely with that child. No wonder. Having gone from science to English to antiques, using writing as a way to mediate the world, “His heart has not changed; his dreams haven’t been altered.”

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