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St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

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Louis Daniel ‘L.D’ Brodsky dies at 73; prolific poet, book publisher

Louis Daniel (“L.D.”) Brodsky, author of 83 volumes of poetry, 25 books of prose, nine scholarly works  on William Faulkner and nine books of short fictions, died Monday, June 16, 2014, in his Clayton home. He was 73.

Mr. Brodsky had surgery for brain cancer on Feb. 4, 2013. He did not write from the end of January to May, which was a long stretch for him to go without writing, his daughter told the Jewish Light.  He resumed his writing, which energized his adult life in May 2013. 

His daughter, Trilogy Mattson said her father passed away surrounded by family and his caregivers.

Mr. Brodsky was born in St. Louis on April 17, 1941, to the late Saul and the late Charlotte (Malter) Brodsky. He attended Country Day School, where he was an outstanding scholar and athlete who played varsity football, soccer and baseball. He served as president of the Athletic Association in his senior year.

After graduation in 1959 from Country Day School (now Mary Institute-Country Day School, or MICDS), he earned a bachelor of arts degree in Spanish, magna cum laude, in 1963 from Yale University. At Yale, he played freshman soccer and rowed crew all four years, earning the Mayor Y Award and Numerals. He continued his academic career by earning a master’s degree in English from Washington University in 1967 and a master’s in creative writing from San Francisco State University in 1968.

Mr. Brodsky’s passion for poetry began in 1963, and he became one of the most prolific published poets in North America in the course of his long writing career. He wrote nearly 12,000 poems, which were published in 83 volumes, receiving praise from Maya Angelou and Elie Wiesel, among others. He also wrote 25 books of prose, including nine books of short stories. 

From 1968 to 1987, while continuing to write poetry, he assisted in managing a 350-person men’s clothing factory in Farmington, Mo. Some of his most engaging early poems, about a traveling salesman named Willy and his road trips, stops at diners and other adventures, are based on his experiences at the Farmington factory.

From 1980 to 1991, Mr. Brodsky taught English and creative writing, part-time, at Mineral Area College in nearby Flat River, Mo. Since 1987, he resided in the St. Louis area, devoting himself to composing poems and short fiction. He could often be seen in places like the Starbucks or Cafe Manhattan in Clayton, deeply immersed in his writing, which covered all aspects of his life and that of his family. He wrote a moving collection of poems about the lives of his beloved late parents, who were generous benefactors in the Jewish and general communities.

He also was drawn to write numerous poems about the Holocaust,which included those published in the books “Gestapo Crows,” “The Eleventh Lost Tribe, “Rabbi Auschwitz,” and “The Swastika Clock,”  which received widespread praise and favorable reviews in various publications. Mr. Brodsky was a member of the Publisher’s Society of the Jewish Light and a member of the St. Louis Jewish Archives Commission. He was a long-time member of Temple Israel. 

In 2004, Mr. Brodsky’s “You Can’t Go Back, Exactly” won the award for best book of poetry given by the Center for Great Lakes Culture at Michigan State University. Mr. Brodsky’s poems and essays have appeared in Harper’s, Faulkner Journal, Southern Review, Texas Quarterly, National Forum, Orbis, Anthology of Modern Verse and the Yearbook of American Poetry, among others.

Mr. Brodsky was the founder of Time Being Press in 1988, which was later renamed Time Being Books, a publishing comvpany specializing in poetry and short fiction, which published Mr. Brodsky’s works and many other authors, including the late Harry James Cargas, a Webster University professor.

Mr. Brodsky’s final writing endeavor was “The Words of My Mouth and The Meditations of My Heart” in 2014, chronicling his year-plus-long journey living with brain cancer.

In addition to his writing, Mr. Brodsky was a leading William Faulkner expert, authoring nine scholarly books on Faulkner and amassing, over a 30-year period, one of the largest collections of William Faulkner materials in the world. In 1988, he transferred ownership of his Faulkner collection to Southeast Missouri State University and continued to serve as curator of the collection, developing it on behalf of the university.

Although his writing gave him much joy, he viewed his daughter and son as his greatest accomplishments, according to a family member.

Howard Schwartz, a widely published poet and author who taught English at the University of Missouri-St. Louis for many years and is a former co-editor of The Sagarin Review and Harvest, local Jewish literary magazines, recalled of his late colleague:

“L.D. and I were in Don Finkel’s poetry workshop in the late ’60s. Even then, L.D. was obsessed with writing poetry. He became one of the most prolific poets ever – with 83 books of poems.His devotion to writing poetry was unquestionable. His creation of Time Being Press/Books and his publication of other poets – especially Jewish ones – was an extension of that exceptional devotion to literature and especially poetry.”

Survivors include his daughter Trilogy Mattson (Anthony) of Creve Coeur, and his son Louis Daniel Troika Brodsky III (Elizabeth Potter) of Town and Country, and siblings Barbara Kantrovitz (David) of Ladue;  Dale Brodsky (Robert Brooks) of Orinda, Calif.;  Roger Brodsky (Diane Kennedy) of Town and Country and Jeffrey Brodsky (Katie) of Town and Country, and a grandchild, Tristan Alexander Mattson. He was also the former husband and cherished friend of Janet Brodsky, and the esteemed colleague of Time Being Books editors Jerry Call and Sheri Vandermolen, and dear friend to many, including Bisera Bander and Bertha Riley-Holt.

Graveside services for Mr. Brodsky were held Thursday, June 19, at B’nai Amoona Cemetery, 930 North and South Road. Rabbi Amy Feder of Temple Israel officiated. The funeral was followed by a reception at which the family greeted friends at the St. Louis Frontenac Hotel.

Contributions in Mr. Brodsky’s memory may be made to the Saul Brodsky Jewish Community Library, 12 Millstone Campus Drive, St. Louis, Mo., 63146, or Camperships for Nebagamon, PO Box 331, East Troy, Wis., 53120.

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