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Songs for Schizoid Siblings by Lionel Ziprin

Songs for Schizoid Siblings by Lionel Ziprin

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Introduction, Notes, and Bibliography by Philip Smith.

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Lionel Ziprin (1924-2009), Jewish mystic, poet, and artist, was born and died on the Lower East Side of New York City. Together with his wife, Joanne, he formed the nucleus of a hidden group of creators, beginning in the early 1950s, who had a foundational influence on what was to come. For over half a century, Lionel was deeply esteemed by associates ranging from Harry Smith and Bruce Conner to Thelonious Monk and Bob Dylan. (Per Ira Cohen, "He was much larger than a poet... He was one of the big secret heroes of the time.")

A prolific author, Ziprin did not write for publication, and only a fragmentary handful of his literary writings saw print while he was alive. This book of nearly 300 profound verses, limericks, and esoteric rhymes is startlingly fresh and innovative though written nearly six decades ago, and is accompanied by supplemental materials that provide valuable context for this unheralded genius.

A fantabulous treasure trove of magic poetry and mystical limericks from downtown legend Lionel Ziprin. Charming, surreal and marked with a profound wisdom, these vexing miniatures will transport you into his living room, where he sat in his beloved rocking-chair-time-machine weaving immortal tales of ancient Kabbalah scrolls, biblical puzzles, occult secrets and counter-culture esoterica. Long awaited, this is a classic tome out of the rich underground culture of Downtown New York. —John Zorn

I find this joyful irreverent book of wordplay, humorous surrealism and limerick wisdom a perfect choice to begin to reveal the amazing unpublished writings of the legendary New York Lower East Side recluse sage, Lionel Ziprin, who T.S. Eliot once conceded was a better poet than himself. —Jonas Mekas

Songs for Schizoid Siblings is a newly revealed American terma, and Philip Smith's meticulously researched supporting materials significantly further Lionel Ziprin's reception.  Smith draws upon his inspired engagement with mid-century bohemia, occultism, poetry, and popular culture to playfully describe, with sympathy and subtlety, a figure whose presence upends established narratives of the postwar avant-garde. —Carol Bove

There is a poet’s poet and there is Lionel Ziprin (1924 – 2009). In addition to being a poet, Ziprin was a Kabbalist and founder of a greeting card company that counted among its employees some of the greatest independent filmmakers of the past fifty years: Jordan Belson, Bruce Conner, and Harry Smith. Born on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Ziprin was the grandson of Rabbi Nuftali Zvi Margolies Abulafia, who was a living storehouse of Jewish liturgical music dating back centuries. The name Abulafia itself has a long and rich history stretching to 13th-century Spain and Abraham ben Samuel Abulafia, one of the earliest Kabbalists. Ziprin possessed a vast knowledge of the hidden. He dwells in that domain of angelic verse that counts William Blake, Helen Adam, and Alfred Starr Hamilton, among its other tenants. In the poetry of these visionaries, nursery rhymes, limericks, ballads, and lists propel them toward the aetherJohn Yau

Lionel Ziprin was the author of the unpublished 1,000+ page epic poem Sentencial Metaphrastic, as well as many other unpublished manuscripts including Math Glass and What This Abacus Was. Songs for Schizoid Siblings is the very first manuscript of Ziprin's work to ever be published in its entirety.


New York Times (Obituary)



Skeptical Occultist

Michigan Quarterly Review


Video of Lionel reading from Songs for Schizoid Siblings


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