Kramer was born in Brooklyn, New York City. He wrote his earliest protest poems in the mid-1930s when he was barely a teenager. His earliest poems about exploited labor appeared in 1934 and his last were published in 1995. Kramer’s poem “The Shoe-Shine Boy” was published in 1937 when he was only 15 years old.
Kramer wrote poems about the Holocaust for 4 decades. In the 1930s, he started writing poems about the Spanish American War and continued through most of his life. He also had an interest on writing in and commitment to testify about African American history.
His earliest poems about the suppression of freedoms in the United States date from 1938 and continued writing them through the 1980s. Kramer wrote his first a in 1938 titled The Alarm Clock, funded by a local Communist Party chapter. Kramer also produced translations of “Rilke: Visions of Christ” and “Der Kaiser von Atlantis”, the opera composed by Viktor Ullmann in the Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1943.
Kramer was one of the few American writers to produce a series of poems about McCarthyism, from satiric "The Soul of Martin Dies" (1944) to "Called In" (1980), his poem of outrage against those compelled to testify before the House of Unamerican Activities Committee. Kramer gained national prominence with Seven Poets in Search of An Answer (1944) and The Poetry and Prose of Heinrich Heine (1948). His master piece is his 26 poems compromising the 1952 sequence “Denmark Vesey", which is about plans for aborted 1822 slave revolt in Charleston, South Carolina.
In addition to his poetry, Kramer published a number of collections of translations, which includes several of his works form volumes of Heine, Rilke, Yiddish Poetry, and his poems about the Holocaust. His critical books include The Prophetic Tradition in American Poetry which was published in 1968 and Melville’s Poetry which was published in 1972. Kramer collaborated with a group of artists on “The Tune of the Calliope: Poems and Drawings of New York” and was editor of the 1972 anthology “On Freedom’s Side: American Poems of Protest”. He wanted to radicalize root and branch of our literally tradition, not to abandon it for alternative forms. He translated and edited the work 135 Yiddish poets were published as part of “A Century of Yiddish Poetry”. Kramer had a variety of different jobs until obtaining a position teaching English that would later become Downing College.
Kramer was a professor emeritus at Dowling College in Oakdale, Long Island, New York. He had a wife, Katherine; 2 daughters, Carol Kramer of Tucson, Arizona, and Laura Kramer of Montclair, New Jersey; a sister, Regina Rothman of Los Angeles; and 2 grandchildren.
He adopted traditional meters — favoring iambic trimeters, tetrameters, and pentameter — in part to install a radical politics within inherited rhythms.
- Another Foundation: Poems. New York: E. Rosner, 1940.
- Till the Grass is Ripe for Dancing: Poems. New York: Harbinger House, 1943.
- Seven Poets in Search of an Answer (by Maxwell Bodenheim, Joy Davidman, Langston Hughes, Aaron Kramer, Alfred Kreymborg, Martha Millet, & Norman Rosten; edited by Thomas Yoseloff). New York: B. Ackerman, 1944.
- Thru our Guns. Astoria, LI, NY: privately published, 1945.
- The Glass Mountain, and other poems. New York: Beechhurst Press / B. Ackerman, 1946.
- The Thunder of the Grass: Poems. New York: International Publishers, 1948.
- The Golden Trumpet. New York: International Publishers, 1949.
- Thru Every Window! A collection of new poems. New York: William-Frederick Press, 1950.
- Denmark Vesey, and other poems. New York: 1952.
- Roll the Forbidden Drums! (with forewor by Alfred Kreymborg). New York: Cameron & Kahn, 1954.
- A Ballad of August Bondi. 1955.
- The Tune of the Calliope: Poems and drawings of New York. New York: Thomas Yoseloff, 1958.
- Moses: Poems and translations. New York: O'Hare Books, 1962.
- Rumshinsky's Hat; and House of Buttons: Two collections of poetry. New York: Thomas Yoseloff, 1964.
- Henry at the Grating: Poems of nausea. New York: Folklore Center, 1968.
- On the Way to Palermo, and other poems. South Brunswick, NJ: A.S. Barnes, 1973.
- Long Night's Journey Back to Light. Oakdale, NY: Dowling College, 1973.
- Elegy for a Room. Oakdale, NY: Dowling College Friends of the Library, 1974.
- O Golden Land! A travelog in verse. Oakdale, NY: Dowling College Press, 1976.
- Long Night's Journey Back to Light II (edited by Alex Kramer). Oakdale, NY: Dowling College, 1977.
- The Dance. Port Jefferson, NY: Street Press, 1978.
- Carousel Parkway, and other poems. San Diego: A.S. Barnes / London: Tantivy Press, 1980.
- In Wicked Times: Poems. Arlington, VA: Black Buzzard Press, 1983.
- In the Suburbs. Winterville, GA: Ali Baba Press, 1986.
- Indigo, and other poems. New York: Cornwall Books, 1991.
- Regrouping: Poems. Northport, NY: Birnham Wood Graphics, 1997.
- Wicked Times: Selected poems (edited by Cary Nelson & Donald Gilzinger). Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2004.
- Chelm: A madrigal comedy (with Eugene Glickman). New York: 1968.
- The Link Between Heinrich Heine and Emma Lazarus. New York: American Jewish Historical Society, 1956.
- Melville's Poetry: Toward the enlarged heart; A thematic study of three ignored poems. Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1972.
- Neglected Aspects of American Poetry: The Greek Independence War, and other studies. Oakdale, NY: Dowling College Press, 1997.
- The Prophetic Tradition in American Poetry, 1835-1900. Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1968.
- The Burning Bush: Poems and other writings, 1940-1980 (edited by Thomas Yoseloff). New York: Cornwall Books, 1983.
- Songs and Ballads: Goethe, Schiller, Heine. New York: O'Hare Books, 1963.
- Rainer Maria Rilke, Visions of Christ: A posthumous cycle of poems (edited by Siegfried Mandel). Boulder, CO: University of Colorado Press, 1967.
- Abraham Reisen, Poems. Oakdale, NY: privately published, 1971.
- A Century of Yiddish Poetry (translated & edited). New York: Cornwall Books, 1989.
- Dora Teitelboim, All My Yesterdays Were Steps: The Selected poems (translated & edited by Kramer; illustrated by Stan Kaplan). Hoboken, NJ: Dora Teitelboim Foundation, 1995.
- R. Zychlinsky, God Hid His Face (translated by Barnett Zumoff, Aaron Kramer, Marek Kanter, et al). Santa Rosa, CA: Word & Quill Press, 1997.
- The Last Lullaby: Poetry from the Holocaust (translated & edited; illustrated by Saul Lishinsky). Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1998.
- On Freedom's Side: An anthology of American poems of protest. New York: Macmillan, 1972.
Audio / videoEdit
- On Freedom's Side: The poems and songs of Aaron Kramer (by Aaron Kramer, Viki Ann Diamond, Karl Finger, & Joan Fishman) (LP). Oakdale, NY: Freneau Records, 1974.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Aaron Kramer. University of Illinois Press, 2006. Web. July 2, 2010.
- ↑ "Aaron Kramer, poet and translator, 75," New York Times, April 12, 1997. Web. July 2, 2010.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Search results = au:Aaron Kramer, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Oct. 26, 2014.
- Audio / video
- Aaron Kramer at Amazon.com
- "Aaron Kramer, poet and translator, 75" obituary, New York Times
- In Memoriam: Aaron Kramer at Long Island South Shore History weblog
- Aaron Kramer (1921-1972) resource page as SUNY Suffolk
- Aaron Kramer (1921-1997) at Modern American Poetry.
- Aaron Kramer Official website
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