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Letters to the World “Series” by Jascha Kessler

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Letters to the Editor


New York

Dear Letters Editor:

Nikki Haley arrives as our ambassador to the UN, which means she is also an ambassador to 192 nations, of which perhaps a dozen are great powers.  One wishes her success for our nation’s sake.  It might also be well to offer a caveat for her sake.  Some years ago, a top KGB agent operating out of Riverdale in NYC, defected with his wife and college-age daughter.  We offered him a huge amount of $$$, and protection.  He set to work with an American writer and published a memoir of his career.  A couple of years later, a little note in the Los Angeles Times mentioned his death of a “heart attack” at the age of 55.  Suspecting a plant of faked news, I emailed his American collaborator to inquire as to what was what, and he replied that he had nothing to say, having done his work.

One thing was unforgettable in that tale of espionage: the Russian, assigned to the UN, remarked that his task of influencing most of the delegates of the world was easy: a Rolex watch was all that was required to keep them in line with Moscow and that once a month he drove down to the Chesapeake Bay to dump into its deeps all the computers and records of their office.

I hope Nikki Haley can be a persuader without needing to support the great watchmaker.  If not, the cost of pocketing so many nations will not be exorbitant.



Jascha Kessler


Emeritus Professor of Modern English & American Literature, UCLA

Santa Monica, CA


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Jascha Kessler
Born in New York City, Jascha Kessler (Ph.D., Litt.D.) has received varied research grants, prizes, and writing fellowships since 1952 when he won a Major Hopwood Award for Poetry (University of Michigan). They include the NEA Fellowship in Writing, two Senior Fulbright Awards to Italy and one to Czechoslovakia. Since 1961, he has been a Professor of English & Modern Literature at UCLA, also teaching poetry, fiction, and playwrighting. In 1979, Mr. Kessler was a Rockefeller Fellow and worked at the Bellagio Study Center, completing his translation (with Amin Banani) of the Persian poet Forugh Farrokhzad: BRIDE OF ACACIAS: THE POETRY OF FORUGH FARROKHZAD (Caravan Books, Delmar, NY: 1983). He won a California Arts Council Fellowship in Fiction Writing for 1993-1994. He reviewed fiction and poetry weekly, theater and events on the air for KUSC-FM (Los Angeles) for 5 years in the 1980s; several dozen of his reviews, both broadcast and published in magazines and papers since the 1960s, have been anthologized in CONTEMPORARY LITERARY CRITICISM (Gale Research) over the decades. His literary essays have appeared widely. He also served as Arts Commissioner for the City of Santa Monica, California, from 1990-1996. In 2001, his translation of TRAVELING LIGHT from the Finnish won the Finnish Literary Translation Centre Award. Kessler has published several collections of fiction. AN EGYPTIAN BONDAGE, & Other Stories (Harper & Row, NY: 1967); DEATH COMES FOR THE BEHAVIORIST: 4 Long Stories (Lexis Press, San Francisco, CA: 1983); CLASSICAL ILLUSIONS: 28 Stories (McPherson & Co.: Kingston, NY, 1985); and TRANSMIGRATIONS: 18 Mythologems (Jazz Press: Capitola, CA: 1985). His latest collection, SIREN SONGS & CLASSICAL ILLUSIONS: 50 Stories", was published by McPherson & Co., in December of 1992. Also a novel, RAPID TRANSIT 1948: An Unsentimental Education (Xlibris 2000) and a second edition of AN EGYPTIAN BONDAGE (Xlibris 2000). He has also published three volumes of poetry: WHATEVER LOVE DECLARES (The Plantin Press: Los Angeles, CA: 1969; AFTER THE ARMIES HAVE PASSED (NYU Press: NY: 1970); and, IN MEMORY OF THE FUTURE (Kayak Press, Santa Cruz, CA: 1976). Also, revised as COLLECTED POEMS (Xlibris 2000). In 2013 his KING SOLOMON’S SEAL: 76 AND MORE FABLES, was published (xLibris.com, in hardback, paperback, ebook versions).

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