Josef Kaplan

Josef Kaplan

Josef Kaplan was born in Kalisz in 1913. When he was at school he joined the Zionist youth movement and by the late 1930s was one of the leaders of the group in Poland.

Kaplan fled east when Poland was invaded by the German Army in September 1939. However, he returned the following year to help organize the resistance against Nazi occupation.

In 1942 Kaplan helped to establish the antifascist coalition in Warsaw. While producing forged documents for a group of resistance fighters on 3rd September 1942, he was captured and killed.

Do not go willingly to your death! Fight for life to the last breath. Greet our murders with teeth and claws, with axe and knife, hydrochloric acid and iron crowbars. Make the enemy pay for blood with blood, for death with death?

Let us fall upon the enemy in time, kill and disarm him. Let us stand up against the criminals and if necessary die like heroes. If we die in this way we are not lost.

Make the enemy pay dearly for your lives! Take revenge for the Jewish centres that have been destroyed and for the Jewish lives that have been extinguished.


Owatonna was first settled in 1853 around the Straight River. The community was named after the Straight River, [6] which in the Dakota language is Wakpá Owóthaŋna. A popular, but apocryphal, story is that the town is named after "Princess Owatonna," the daughter of a local Native American chief who was supposedly healed by the magic waters of a nearby spring. [7] The earliest the Owatonna area was settled was in 1854 and platted in September 1855, but it was incorporated as a town August 9, 1858, then as a city on February 23, 1865. [6]

In 1856, Josef Karel Kaplan emigrated from the village of Dlouhá Třebová, southeast of Prague, Bohemia (now the Czech Republic), and selected a quarter section [160 acres (65 ha)] of land near the town of Owatonna. Kaplan described Owatonna as having just 50 small homes, but predicted 100 within a year, along with a railroad. With just four stores and a pharmacy, Owatonna quickly prospered and grew to 1,500 inhabitants in just 5 years. Kaplan wrote about the Owatonna area in letters donated to the Minnesota Historical Society. In them, he described often seeing the indigenous people with "tough constitutions. brown skin and good dispositions," explaining: "When you read about battles between whites and Indians, it is the whites who are to blame." In 1866, Kaplan helped organize the Catholic cemetery, and a year later, the Bohemian National Cemetery of Owatonna. [8]

Kaplan's Woods is part of the land originally owned by Josef Kaplan, and later Victor and Anna Kaplan. The State of Minnesota created Kaplan's Wood State Park, which was later transferred to the City of Owatonna. [9] The Kaplan's Woods Parkway contains over 6 miles (10 km) of hiking and cross country skiing trails, and nearly 2 miles (3 km) of hard-surfaced, handicapped-accessible trail. The parkway includes Lake Kohlmier, a 35-acre (14 ha) lake. [10]

The Minnesota State Public School for Dependent and Neglected Children was built in 1886. The school took in orphans from around the state and taught them "the value of drill, discipline, and labor." The children who died in the institution were interred in the Children's Cemetery behind the school. In 1945, the orphanage closed and in 1947 the State Public School was officially abolished and all its lands, buildings, property, and funds were transferred to the newly established the Owatonna State School, [11] which provided academic and vocational training for the developmentally disabled. The Owatonna State School was closed June 30, 1970. [12] In 1974, the City purchased the compound for its office space. Renamed "West Hills," it continues to serve as the City's administration complex and home to many nonprofit civic organizations including a senior activity center, the Owatonna Arts Center, two nonprofit daycare centers, a chemical dependency halfway house, and Big Brothers/Big Sisters, among others. [ citation needed ]

In July 2008, a Raytheon Hawker 800 corporate jet crashed near Owatonna, resulting in eight deaths. [13]

On October 31, 2010, Owl City's Adam Young held a hometown concert in the Owatonna Senior High School gym. [14]

On November 3, 2015, the Owatonna Public School District passed a bond referendum to fund school facilities improvements focusing on deferred maintenance, safety, and Elementary school crowding. As a result, the school district received $77.9 million to repair all buildings, replace out-of-date equipment, update security in all seven public school buildings, switch the use for two school buildings, and reconfigure grades from K-5, 6, 7-8, 9-12 to K-5, 6-8, 9-12. All facility changes and projects were completed by September 2018. [15]

The Steele County Historical Society “preserves Steele County's past, shares the county's stories, and connects people with history in meaningful ways, for today and for tomorrow.” Established in 1949 to preserve the history of Steele County, it has grown to become one of the largest and most prestigious historical societies in the state. In 1962, the Society permanently leased a portion of the southeast section of the fairgrounds to begin a pioneer village, the Village of Yesteryear, which has grown in the years since through the additional move of historic structures, as well as museum buildings built on site.

Owatonna is an economic center of Southern Minnesota, with diverse industries. Federated Insurance is the largest employer with 1,521 employees, followed by an expanding Viracon, which has 1,434 employees. [16] Both have their corporate headquarters in Owatonna. Other large employers in the community are Bosch, Jostens, Gopher Sport, Brunswick Corporation (Cybex International), Daikin Industries, Owatonna Public Utilities, AmesburyTruth, ISD 761, Wenger Corporation, [17] Owatonna Clinic - Mayo Health System, and Owatonna Hospital - Allina Hospitals & Clinics. [ citation needed ]

Owatonna is governed by a mayor and city council.City Council of Owatonna, MN

  • Council member at large: Doug Voss
  • Council member at large: Jeff Okerberg
  • First Ward: Nathan Dotson
  • Second Ward: Greg Schultz
  • Third Ward: Dave Burbank
  • Fourth Ward: Kevin P. Raney
  • Fifth Ward: Brent Svenby

The city is located in Minnesota's 24th District, represented by John Jasinski, Republican. District 24 includes portions of Steele, Rice and Waseca and Dodge counties in the southeastern part of the state. Owatonna also lies in House District 24A, represented by State Representative John Petersburg, a Republican, since 2012.

Owatonna is located in Minnesota's 1st congressional district, represented by Jim Hagedorn, a Republican.

Public schools Edit

Public education is provided by Independent School District No. 761

Elementary schools Edit

  • Lincoln Elementary, Grades K-5] [18]
  • McKinley Elementary, Grades K-5 [19] ( New location as of 2017-18 school year)
  • Washington Elementary, Grades K-5 (6th graders also from montessori) (New location as of 2017-18 school year) [20]
  • Wilson Elementary, Grades K-5 [21]

Middle school Edit

High school Edit

Private schools Edit

Higher education Edit

Past schools Edit

  • "Old" Lincoln Elementary School 1885-1951
  • Roosevelt Elementary School, 1919-1980
  • Jefferson Elementary School, (early) 1900s-1970
  • First Owatonna High School, 1871-1882
  • Second Owatonna High School, 1883-1921 1887-1945
  • Owatonna State School, 1947-1970
  • Willow Creek Intermediate School, 1990-2017
  • Owatonna Junior High school 1965-2017

National Farmers Bank Edit

In the middle of Owatonna's downtown is the National Farmer's Bank, widely recognized as one of the premier examples of the Prairie School of architecture in America. Designed by Louis Sullivan, the building was finished in 1908 and features gold leaf arches, stained-glass windows, and nouveau baroque art designs, all still in pristine condition. It is a national landmark on the National Register of Historic Places and currently functions as a branch of Wells Fargo Bank.

State School Museum Edit

The State School Museum [22] is located at West Hills on the grounds of the former Minnesota State School for Dependent and Neglected Children.

Junior hockey Edit

The Steele County Blades is a junior hockey team who play at Four Seasons Center and are a member of the MN Junior Hockey League. Although having a similar name and logo, this team is unrelated to the former Southern Minnesota Express, that relocated to Michigan to become the Motor City Machine. The Express began play in the 2008-2009 season, [23] and completed their final season in March 2011.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 14.62 square miles (37.87 km 2 ) 14.53 square miles (37.63 km 2 ) is land and 0.09 square miles (0.23 km 2 ) is water. [24] The oldest part of the city (including the downtown area) is located on a low-lying area on the eastern bank of the Straight River, extending towards the south from Maple Creek. The city has grown in all directions, and now lies on both sides of the river, as well as above the ridge north of Maple Creek. Significant growth in recent years has occurred to the northeast, where homes have been built along the ravine of Maple Creek as well as alongside Brooktree Golf Course, to the north, and to the southeast. Geographical landmarks of note include Kaplan's Woods, a hardwood nature preserve on the southern border of the city, Cinder Hill, a steep 60 foot hill on Linn Avenue overlooking downtown that is used by local athletes for training, the Straight River dam, originally used to power a mill and now reconstructed to include a fish ladder, and the Forest Hill Cemetery, an old wooded cemetery on the ridge to the north of Maple Creek that marks the boundary between the oldest parts of the city and more recent developments.

Record rainfall events from Wednesday, September 22, 2010 to Friday, September 24, 2010 caused flooding of the Straight River and Maple Creek in and near Owatonna, with developments in the floodplains of both streams being completely inundated. [25] [26] [27]

Historical population
Census Pop.
1860609
18702,070 239.9%
18803,161 52.7%
18903,849 21.8%
19005,561 44.5%
19105,658 1.7%
19207,252 28.2%
19307,654 5.5%
19408,694 13.6%
195010,191 17.2%
196013,409 31.6%
197015,341 14.4%
198018,632 21.5%
199019,386 4.0%
200022,434 15.7%
201025,599 14.1%
2019 (est.)25,704 [3] 0.4%
U.S. Decennial Census [28]
2018 Estimate [29]

2010 census Edit

As of the census [2] of 2010, there were 25,599 people, 10,068 households, and 6,737 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,761.8 inhabitants per square mile (680.2/km 2 ). There were 10,724 housing units at an average density of 738.1 per square mile (285.0/km 2 ). The racial makeup of the city was 91.2% White, 3.8% African American, 0.3% Native American, 0.9% Asian, 2.2% from other races, and 1.5% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 7.3% of the population.

There were 10,068 households, of which 34.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.9% were married couples living together, 10.0% had a female householder with no husband present, 4.0% had a male householder with no wife present, and 33.1% were non-families. 27.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.49 and the average family size was 3.05.

The median age in the city was 37.2 years. 26.9% of residents were under the age of 18 7.3% were between the ages of 18 and 24 26.3% were from 25 to 44 25.5% were from 45 to 64 and 13.8% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.8% male and 51.2% female.

2000 census Edit

As of the census of 2000, there were 22,434 people, 8,704 households, and 5,936 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,779.9 people per square mile (687.4/km 2 ). There were 8,940 housing units at an average density of 709.3 per square mile (273.9/km 2 ). The racial makeup of the city was 94.09% White, 1.56% African American, 0.13% Native American, 0.99% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.92% from other races, and 1.27% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.31% of the population.

There were 8,704 households, out of which 35.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.5% were married couples living together, 8.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.8% were non-families. 26.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.52 and the average family size was 3.08.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 28.1% under the age of 18, 8.4% from 18 to 24, 29.8% from 25 to 44, 20.8% from 45 to 64, and 12.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $45,660, and the median income for a family was $54,883. Males had a median income of $37,691 versus $25,511 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,513. About 4.3% of families and 6.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.9% of those under age 18 and 6.9% of those age 65 or over.

Parts of the 1995 movie Angus were filmed in and around Owatonna, including Owatonna Senior High School, its football team, and marching band. [30]

In 1974, the City of Owatonna purchased the campus of the former Minnesota State Public School for Dependent and Neglected Children, which had been in operation from 1886 until 1945. The site was renamed West Hills, and now serves as an administrative center for the City of Owatonna, as well as housing several non-profit organizations in the various historic buildings, including the Owatonna Arts Center. [31]

Much of the 2014 silent film The Root of Evil was shot on location in Owatonna, most notably at the Owatonna Senior High School and the Gainey Center. Produced by a cast and crew of over 60 Owatonna High School students, the film has received 10 awards at over eight film festivals on the international circuit. [32] Memorabilia from the film is set [ when? ] to be on display in the high school museum.

The ongoing practical joke Pesky Pants took place in Owatonna between 1965 and 1989


History 80+ YearsTransforming Lives

In 1938, Stanley Kaplan started tutoring students in the basement of his parents’ Brooklyn home. Many of his students were from immigrant families, eager to pursue higher education and achieve success in America.

Today, Kaplan is one of the world’s largest and most diverse education providers—with 12,000 employees working across 28 countries—serving individuals, businesses and universities worldwide.

Stanley Kaplan starts tutoring students in the basement of his parents’ Brooklyn home. Many of his students were from immigrant families, eager to pursue higher education and achieve success in America.

American universities begin relying more heavily on standardized tests as a measure of student potential. While test-makers claimed these exams were not coachable, Kaplan knew that it was possible for people to improve their scores with the right preparation.

The Federal Trade Commission concludes that test preparation like that provided by Kaplan helps students raise their test scores. This led to legislation to help make the university admissions process more transparent and encouraged more students to believe a college education was within their reach.

Kaplan, now with over 100 centers around the US, is acquired by The Washington Post Company (now called Graham Holdings Company).

Kaplan expands beyond the US with a test prep center in London.

Jonathan Grayer, a young, dynamic executive from within The Washington Post Company, is appointed CEO of Kaplan at the age of 29. He builds a talented management team, including current Kaplan Chairman and CEO Andy Rosen, setting the foundation for the company’s future growth.

Kaplan enters the K-8 market with the acquisition of Score Learning Inc. (today Kaplan Kids), a provider of online learning and after-school tutoring for children.

Concord Law School makes history as the world’s first fully online law school. Kaplan forays into professional training with the acquisition of Dearborn Publishing.

Kaplan enters the higher education market with the acquisition of Quest Education Corporation, a publicly-traded network of career colleges. Higher education becomes Kaplan’s biggest business.

Kaplan offers three online higher education programs to just 34 students. Today, Kaplan University (now Purdue University Global) has multiple campuses and more than 100 online programs, serving more than 59,000 students.

Kaplan furthers its international expansion with the acquisitions of The Financial Training Company (UK and Asia) and Dublin Business School (Ireland).

Kaplan exceeds $1 billion in revenue and becomes the largest and fastest-growing business unit of The Washington Post Company.

Kaplan becomes one of the world’s largest providers of academic English programs with the acquisition of Aspect, based in London, and expands its financial and real estate training business to Australia.

The Kaplan Educational Foundation is launched, our largest philanthropic effort to date.

The Washington Post Company officially declares itself an “education and media company” to reflect the rise of Kaplan within the company.

In response to great demand for Western-style education in China, Kaplan introduces pre-university foundation programs and degrees from Western universities in several Chinese cities.

After 17 years at Kaplan, Jonathan Grayer resigns and Andy Rosen is appointed Kaplan, Inc’s new Chairman and CEO. As CEO of Kaplan Higher Education, Rosen redefined the higher ed landscape, bringing online and campus learning opportunities to working adults.

CEO Andy Rosen’s book, “Change.edu: Rebooting for the New Talent Economy,” attracts critical acclaim for its insights on the status of U.S. higher education and call for change to improve learning outcomes, expand access, lower costs, and increase accountability. The book’s publication also helps underscore Kaplan’s important contribution to the ongoing education debate about how best to improve student performance.

Kaplan teams with a university partner to open its first student residence facilities for international pathway students in the U.K. These residences set new standards by incorporating learning science principles into the design of the dormitories to help students assimilate to their new surroundings and support their academic work.

Kaplan enters the New Economy Skills Training field, acquiring the lead software-development school Dev Bootcamp. This acquisition augments its internally-developed Metis operation and stakes out a prominent role in the immersive computer coding and software-development training field.

Kaplan acquired SmartPros, a leading U.S. provider of online professional education and training, primarily in the field of accountancy. This acquisition complements Kaplan’s market leadership in accountancy training in the UK, Singapore and Hong Kong SAR .

Kaplan International bought Mander Portman Woodward (MPW), one of the UK’s most prestigious independent Sixth Form College groups, offering A level and GCSE credentials. Founded in 1973, MPW operates three schools in London, Cambridge, and Birmingham and prepares local and international students for entry into top universities in the UK, US and Australia.


The Introductions of Josef Kaplan

If you haven't attended the December-January Segue events these past two years, you have missed something. Josef Kaplan's introductions. Most weeks, as they unfold, you can observe something come over the room. Some weeks it's like a wave of something between shock and glee. Other weeks it's just lots of audience reaction, hysterical laughter, conversations erupting, the occasional person turning away in discomfort. These introductions have been described as uproarious, sweet, insulting, naive, hilarious, and courageous. Many seem to agree he's exploding the form.

Rumor has it Ugly Duckling is planning to make a chapbook of a select few.

When asked if anything seemed special about what's happening here, James Sherry, who has been steering Segue for over thirty years, says, "Josef breaks the tradition of laudatory introductions with confrontational framing such as saying that he doesn’t understand the poet’s work." Sherry points to Kaplan's Michael Gottlieb intro, describing it as, "psychological rhetoric layered on satiric imitation creating an uproarious surface" that "exposed Michael’s social critique as a personal complaint." But what's equally extraordinary is how funny and loving it all seemed when it was happening. Michael laughed harder than anyone. Steve Zultanski, Segue co-curator with Kaplan for two years, described it as, "confusing and borderline insulting, but in the sweetest way."

When I sent Rob Fitterman interview questions for this piece, he turned around and wrote a piece of his own on the topic, which I will post tomorrow. I wonder if he was thinking of the Gottlieb intro when he wrote there, "it is an honor to be hammered beautifully." Fitterman describes Kaplan's introductions as performing a reading process, placing the introducer-performer at "the polar opposite of literary fundamentalism," where the introducer lets "the work of the writer he is about to introduce dictate a slippery procession." And if Kaplan's work is any indication, approaching the poetry introduction as an act of naive reading does allow a lot of space for generative questioning and humorously revealing reading errors, but also often arrives at what seem like basic truths about the work that have gone unnoticed, or maybe just unspoken, in a way everyone seems to feel comfortable laughing about, maybe even relieved to hear.

The stakes are high for a Segue introduction. That audience has been hearing performative, theoretically informed introductions for thirty years. Sherry says of this, "Segue introductions verge on independent literary works. I have supported that approach in the years that I have been responsible for the series." In a scene that takes the introduction seriously as a form, getting a complex and original audience reaction, as Kaplan's introductions have, suggests not only an intervention in the form but an interventon in the scene.

My Approach

Being an active part of a poetry community is like having a second job. O the hours I have put in, but rarely do I find time to write about it. I agreed to report for Jacket2 these next few weeks as a writing constraint to correct that. I want to write about the scene(s) I occupy, report and reflect on events, interview organizers and opinionators. And maybe re-post a few things. This space should operate as a window into what is happening in certain corners of poetry right now.

One of Jacket2's editorial suggestions for commentary writers is that we approach the task as a beat reporter. For the last few weeks I've been preparing by thinking of this project with an eye toward journalism, so I've felt a desire to "get at" some challenging issues of the day, dig into particular issues of the moment. I think it could at times border on a kind of gossip column. Nothing lurid or personal, more of a who-said-what-about-which-reading, or a relaying of great ideas that emerge in casual conversation, and maybe even a little "who last saw Kim and Thurston at a poetry event" when that seems relevant.

In a classroom discussion of Gertrude Stein's line "history is gossip," my former professor Charles Bernstein riffed on Stein's way of redistributing our sense of where gossip ends and history begins. That conversation changed forever my approach to the sociality of poetry. You don't learn everything there, but you can learn some important things you would learn nowhere else. Not to say all these posts will make history, or that everything they depict deserves to be remembered. That's not the spirit of Stein's idea. It's that what has happened happened in the smallest of happenings and the large ones too.

Jacket2Commentaries feature invited posts by poets and scholars who take a close, serial look at poetry scenes, archives, poetic concerns, or theoretical clusters. Commentaries, although curated, are not edited by Jacket2 staff. We welcome your comments. Send queries and notes to Commentaries Editor Jessica Lowenthal or contact us at this page.


It’s no secret that reality TV is usually everything except real, but Ken wanted to make sure that his special was as real as possible. Ken and his son kept things as authentic as possible when filming with Discovery to give viewers a legitimate look into the work they do.

Being on TV is definitely a life changing experience, especially when you get to highlight yourself and your business in a positive way. Not only is Ken hoping that the special will give him the opportunity to have a regular series, he’s also hoping that it will bring more tourists to his museum and the area as a whole.


Joseph Stalin and World War II

In 1939, on the eve of World War II, Joseph Stalin and German dictator Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) signed the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact. Stalin then proceeded to annex parts of Poland and Romania, as well as the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. He also launched an invasion of Finland. Then, in June 1941, Germany broke the Nazi-Soviet pact and invaded the USSR, making significant early inroads. (Stalin had ignored warnings from the Americans and the British, as well as his own intelligence agents, about a potential invasion, and the Soviets were not prepared for war.) 

As German troops approached the Soviet capital of Moscow, Stalin remained there and directed a scorched earth defensive policy, destroying any supplies or infrastructure that might benefit the enemy. The tide turned for the Soviets with the Battle of Stalingrad from August 1942 to February 1943, during which the Red Army defeated the Germans and eventually drove them from Russia.

As the war progressed, Stalin participated in the major Allied conferences, including those in Tehran (1943) and Yalta (1945). His iron will and deft political skills enabled him to play the loyal ally while never abandoning his vision of an expanded postwar Soviet empire.


The Strange Case of the Non-Criminal Jail Break

I t would seem to go without saying that breaking out of jail is a criminal act. As the manhunt in New York state continues, the two convicted killers whose escape from Clinton Correctional Facility was discovered on Saturday have joined a long list of truly dastardly break-outs&ndashsome of which retain a certain magician-like mystique. The 20th century’s most prolific prison-breakers include some of its most infamous criminals, from John Dillinger to James Earl Ray, the latter of whom earned himself the nickname “the mole” for his many attempts to break out.

But the history of jail breaks also reveals an odd counterexample. Not every single instance has actually been criminal.

Case in point: the 1971 escape of Joel Kaplan from a Mexican prison. Here’s how TIME described the bravado breakout that August:

Most of the 136 guards at Mexico City’s Santa Maria Acatitla prison were watching a movie with the prisoners last week when a Bell helicopter, similar in color to the Mexican attorney general’s, suddenly clattered into the prison yard. Some of the guards on duty presented arms, supposing that the helicopter had brought an unexpected official visitor. What they got was a different sort of surprise. As the chopper set down on the paving stones, two prisoners dashed out of Cell No. 10. The men were airborne in less than two minutes. One of the most enterprising jailbreaks in modern times had been accomplished without a shot being fired.

Kaplan, one of the two escapees, was a prominent New York businessman from a wealthy family. In 1962, Kaplan’s business partner Louis Vidal Jr. had been proclaimed dead in Mexico City Kaplan had been charged with killing Vidal, even though there seemed to be doubts over whether the body in question was actually Vidal’s. (The other escapee was a Venezuelan named Carlos Antonio Contreras Castro, in jail for counterfeiting his story was much less widely covered in the American press at the time.) After the escape, the prison noted that the Kaplan’s and Castro’s wives had visited the day before, accompanied by an American man who seemed to be surveying the prison yard.

Following the flight to freedom, the helicopter delivered the two men to a private plane at a nearby airport, which in turn delivered them to an airport near the Texas border, where they split up. Castro went to Guatemala Kaplan made his way to California.

The real twist, however, came later. After arriving in the U.S., Kaplan insisted that the entire process had been entirely legal. The prison in Mexico had not been damaged in any way. No one had been hurt. Both the helicopter and the private plane used within Mexico were purchased outright rather than rented, so it would be impossible to make any claim that they had been used improperly, and everything about the flight was done according to FAA standards. When crossing into the U.S. in Texas, Kaplan and the pilot both used their correct names when speaking with customs officials. “His escape, the lawyer claims, was perfectly legal since jail breaks are a crime in Mexico only if violence is used against prison personnel or property or if prison inmates or officials aid the escape,” TIME reported. “Mexican authorities disagree, insisting that the use of accomplices&mdashthe pilots, in Kaplan&rsquos case&mdashmakes the escape illegal. However, Mexican officials have not yet initiated extradition proceedings against Kaplan or his partners, who seemed to have pulled off a practically noncriminal crime.”

The jailbreak was the inspiration for the 1975 Charles Bronson/Robert Duvall movie Breakout, and that coda proved to be in some ways more shocking than the real thing, as TIME reported: [T]hough the actual 1971 jailbreak went uneventfully, not so the movie version. Appearing unexpectedly on the set, Kaplan and [pilot Victor] Stadter watched in amazement as two Jeeploads of movieland police blasted away at Actors Bronson and Duvall re-enacting the escape. Said Stadter afterward: ‘I was more scared watching all this than when we did the caper.'”

As for the real-life Kaplan, though he was not actively pursued by authorities on either side of the border&mdashand though the CIA and he both denied that he was involved with their espionage operations&mdashhe was apparently living incognito. And he was as good at that as he was at breaking out of jail: he been heard from publicly since.


Josef Kaplan on “Poem Without Suffering”

To have it happen,
but to have it not
be considered
tragedy, at least not
in the traditional
sense, the way in
which one senses
form in drama
as human suffering.
It's not that.
It's not that
because suffering
is irrelevant
to the act itself.
That is, it creates
no suffering, at least
not in the moment
that it happens,
and at least not
for the children.
They don't suffer.
Not unless we
imagine suffering
to exist beyond our
ability to perceive it,
as with the fear that
we might, after our
expiration, appear
dead in every way
to friends, family,
and medical
professionals, when
we are in fact not dead,
but living, in a sense,
conscious underneath
that appearance, left
with all senses intact,
but simultaneously
lacking the will and
motor control necessary
to express their
presence—to move
a hand, or open
our mouth and
exclaim or signal
our distress at having
been washed and shaved,
our eyes closed, our jaw
sewn into some
natural-seeming shape,
slightly cocked
like an incision,
one made just below
our belly button,
a cut just wide
enough to
accommodate
an instrument
inserted to drain
us of our fluids
and replace them
with formaldehyde,
phenol, glutaraldehyde,
methanol, ethanol,
and water, arresting us
with this solution, as if
it were an argument,
an answer to the problem
of what to do with
an empty body,
or any emptiness at all,
like a grave is empty
and so calls to be filled,
and calls our body down
into it, in silence.

From Poem Without Suffering (Wonder Books, 2015). All rights reserved. Reprinted courtesy of the author.

On "Poem Without Suffering"

This is from the opening few pages of Poem Without Suffering, and it has I guess one somewhat mysterious element: "To have it happen / but to have it not / be considered tragedy" - this "it," which is unexplained at first, but which not too much later clearly comes to reference the shooting death of a child.

Alongside that, we get the start of these digressions (here, some anxieties around the sensory experience of death, as well as a description of the embalming process) that spin off in various ways from the narrative of the shooting and constitute, in general, the driving, formal logic of the piece.

Which is all a bit obvious.

That sounds coy, but I think it's also pretty much true. In part because I think the book is so explicitly self-explanatory. It's a book built out of explanations. It's constantly clarifying what, exactly, it's representing, which is how it's able to stretch out this one abrupt moment of violence: because every minute element constituting that act can be elucidated in more and more expansive, more detailed ways. Hence, the digressions.

So, it's tricky to write this kind of companion piece. The book already does much of the work for me. Its challenges are of a different order, one not entirely suited to footnoting - there aren't many obscure allusions, or very abstract, esoteric symbols which I could otherwise just parse. Instead, the book's difficulty lies in making sense of the associations generated through this chain of mostly straightforward expositions.

I've always been a fan of secretly strange things. I like it when art reveal its strangeness in unassuming ways - like when writing presents itself as a fairly routine exercise in genre, but then, through clever and/or bizarre manipulations of that genre's conventions, produces effects that are unexpected and compelling.

The straightforwardness of much of Poem Without Suffering tries to pay homage to that. The poem doesn't really overtly belong to any one genre, but it's similar to the idea of genre in this one broad sense: it tries to locate complexity, not within an immediately obtuse, alienating eccentricity, but instead within the relentless accumulation of the familiar, until what, exactly, might determine the familiar begins to blur.


About Us

Stanley Kaplan starts tutoring students in the basement of his parents’ Brooklyn home. Many of his students were from immigrant families, eager to pursue higher education and achieve success in America.

American universities begin relying more heavily on standardized tests as a measure of student potential. While test-makers claimed these exams were not coachable, Kaplan knew that it was possible for people to improve their scores with the right preparation.

The Federal Trade Commission concludes that test preparation like that provided by Kaplan helps students raise their test scores. This led to legislation to help make the university admissions process more transparent and encouraged more students to believe a college education was within their reach.

Kaplan, now with over 100 centers around the US, is acquired by The Washington Post Company (now called Graham Holdings Company).

Kaplan expands beyond the US with a test prep center in London.

Jonathan Grayer, a young, dynamic executive from within The Washington Post Company, is appointed CEO of Kaplan at the age of 29. He builds a talented management team, including current Kaplan Chairman and CEO Andy Rosen, setting the foundation for the company’s future growth.

Kaplan enters the K-8 market with the acquisition of Score Learning Inc. (today Kaplan Kids), a provider of online learning and after-school tutoring for children.

Concord Law School makes history as the world’s first fully online law school. Kaplan forays into professional training with the acquisition of Dearborn Publishing.

Kaplan enters the higher education market with the acquisition of Quest Education Corporation, a publicly-traded network of career colleges. Higher education becomes Kaplan’s biggest business.

Kaplan offers three online higher education programs to just 34 students. Today, Kaplan University (now Purdue University Global) has multiple campuses and more than 100 online programs, serving more than 59,000 students.

Kaplan furthers its international expansion with the acquisitions of The Financial Training Company (UK and Asia) and Dublin Business School (Ireland).

Kaplan exceeds $1 billion in revenue and becomes the largest and fastest-growing business unit of The Washington Post Company.

Kaplan becomes one of the world’s largest providers of academic English programs with the acquisition of Aspect, based in London, and expands its financial and real estate training business to Australia.

The Kaplan Educational Foundation is launched, our largest philanthropic effort to date.

The Washington Post Company officially declares itself an “education and media company” to reflect the rise of Kaplan within the company.

In response to great demand for Western-style education in China, Kaplan introduces pre-university foundation programs and degrees from Western universities in several Chinese cities.

After 17 years at Kaplan, Jonathan Grayer resigns and Andy Rosen is appointed Kaplan, Inc’s new Chairman and CEO. As CEO of Kaplan Higher Education, Rosen redefined the higher ed landscape, bringing online and campus learning opportunities to working adults.

CEO Andy Rosen’s book, “Change.edu: Rebooting for the New Talent Economy,” attracts critical acclaim for its insights on the status of U.S. higher education and call for change to improve learning outcomes, expand access, lower costs and increase accountability. The book’s publication also helps underscore Kaplan’s important contribution to the ongoing education debate about how best to improve student performance.

Kaplan teams with a university partner to open its first student residence facilities for international pathway students in the U.K. These residences set new standards by incorporating learning science principles into the design of the dormitories to help students assimilate to their new surroundings and support their academic work.

Kaplan enters the New Economy Skills Training field with its launch of Metis, which offers intensive bootcamps and corporate training programs in the field of data science.

Kaplan acquired SmartPros, a leading U.S. provider of online professional education and training, primarily in the field of accountancy. This acquisition complements Kaplan’s market leadership in accountancy training in the UK, Singapore and Hong Kong SAR .

Kaplan International bought Mander Portman Woodward (MPW), one of the UK’s most prestigious independent Sixth Form College groups, offering A level and GCSE credentials. Founded in 1973, MPW operates three schools in London, Cambridge, and Birmingham and prepares local and international students for entry into top universities in the UK, US and Australia.

Education Corporation of America, which operates private, accredited colleges in the U.S, acquired the 38 Kaplan College campuses, which also include Kaplan Career Institutes, TESST College of Technology and Texas School of Business locations.

Kaplan University (now Purdue University Global) received reaffirmation of accreditation by the Institutional Actions Council of the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The determination continues KU’s regional accreditation for 10 years, through its 2025-2026 academic year.

The Kaplan Educational Foundation (KEF) celebrates its 10 year anniversary. The Foundation, an independent 501(c)(3) charity, was founded by Kaplan executives to help disadvantaged minority community college students complete their associate’s degrees and transfer to top U.S. colleges and universities.

ACT, Inc., makers of the ACT® test, the most popular college readiness test in the U.S., and Kaplan Test Prep joined in an exclusive partnership to create a new online ACT preparation program offering live, content-based instruction from teachers. The program is available at no cost to low-income students and to all students at a significantly lower cost than traditional prep programs.

Purdue University, Indiana’s leading public research university, announced the creation of a new, online public university that will expand access to higher education for millions of working adults and others. To launch the new university, Purdue will acquire Kaplan University and its institutional operations and assets, including its 15 campuses and learning centers, 32,000 students, 3,000 employees, and decades of experience in distance education. Kaplan University’s School of Professional and Continuing Education is not part of the acquisition.

Kaplan acquired Genesis Institute, a Dubai-based provider of CFA training programs in the Gulf States region. This move extends Kaplan’s already strong presence in the Middle East, offering clients access to its full suite of professional and licensure training products in accounting and financial services areas.

In Australia, Kaplan bought Red Marker, a pioneering machine learning and artificial intelligence firm, working in the RegTech sector. Before the acquisition, the companies partnered to create a groundbreaking new tool, Artemis, which uses AI technology to help financial services firms create and share compliant digital content.


Glasswater [sic]: an interview with Jacob Bennett

Toby’s series “Bodies in Space” is about sustained thinking of the physicality of the body and its relation to poetry. Here, critical essay fractures, moves like poetry.

Jacob Bennett’s new chapbook from Furniture Press Books, Wysihicken [sic], takes its name from a misspelling. If you look at a map of Philadelphia, you’ll find Wissahickon, an astonishing state park which runs through the city’s Northwest neighborhoods. If such a pastoral landscape seems improbable in the heart of Philadelphia, workshop of the world, Bennett’s chapbook demonstrates how the natural is already the political: implicated in violent acts of naming and appropriation, which turn Wysihicken into Wissahickon.

Bennett conducts an archaeology of the park: examining, in tightly constructed poems, its human and natural history. He documents how the poem’s Arcadian setting serves “as microcosom or repository of the foundations of the United States of America. Appropriation and dominion, naming as claiming, domination and change – these are American themes and the themes of this poem.” The park becomes a “petrified directory” for reading, reproducing, and critiquing the cycles of colonial violence which have made and shaped the ‘natural.’ I interviewed Jacob about his chapbook, its politics and its aesthetics, over the month of June, while he prepared for his wedding.

Toby Altman: I’d like to begin by talking about the tradition of romantic landscape writing. Wordsworth, for instance, famously composed while walking, and the rhythm of the footfall insistently frames his poems. We might say that romantic landscape poems rely on the poet’s body—a centripetal presence which organizes the natural. Your poem too begins with the poet’s rhythmic movement through the landscape: “I began composing the first sections of this poem in my head while riding my bike through Wissahickon Creek park in Philadelphia’s northwest quadrant,” you write. But your poem itself effaces this presence the word ‘I’ is ostentatiously absent from the poem. Talk about your relation to the tradition of landscape poetry: if your poem breaks from that tradition, what is at stake politically and aesthetically in the breaks?

Jacob Bennett: While I had Bishop (“Florida”) and Olson (“Maximus to Gloucester, Letter 27 [Withheld]”) in mind, and not Wordsworth, the connection to that tradition is there. It’s gratifying that you notice the friction between what I was very consciously thinking of as a lyrical tradition of R/romantic landscape writing, on one hand, and the total absence of an ‘I’ in my own poem. It’s an artifice, to be sure, the erasure of my Self as a central filter for sensory input. Because, of course, it IS me walking, splashing, riding, reading, touching, smelling. There were, in early drafts, some ‘I’ references, but at some point I (ahem) decided that, in order to compose something that was bigger than me or my subjective experience of a very beautiful landscape, and my third-hand reader’s experience of a very brutal history, that there should be no center or axis, at least not in the form of a “me as center of everything,” around which the poem might revolve. As far as the lines, which are sometimes short, sometimes long – I’m thinking of your comment about Wordsworth’s peripatetic rhythm – I guess the poem is a specimen of concrete poem, as I was trying to match the lines of the rocks, and the water, and the trails, along which I traveled.

TA: I’m interested in what you say about the shapes of the poem. It seems like the poem is not merely descriptive of a landscape, but also mimetic of it. I wonder if this is true of the poem’s language as well as its shape. The language of the poem is at once austere and heteroglot, impacting geological, industrial and lyric vocabularies. In the Author’s Note, you write, “I realized…there is no way to pin down a place by naming it or telling its story. After all, even bedrock fractures and loses its place.” Talk about the relation that this poem establishes between language and place. Is the groundlessness of place also the groundlessness of language? How do you accommodate one to the other? (I particularly want to hear about the neologisms, like ‘millspins’ and ‘glasswater,’ which are so much a part of the distinctive fabric of this poem).

JB: Yes, I think that’s right, that place and language are, if not groundless, then definitely ungrounded or unstable over time, even if the shifts are unnoticed or so slow as to take ages. The first time I read the ‘misspelled’ name of the Wissahickon that is the poem’s title, it was attended by an editor’s notation indicating the ‘found’ nature of the spelling: [sic]. The sound of the combination—Wysihicken [sic]—echoed in my head for a while before I realized that was the title. And then I realized that the alternate spelling was a perfect carrier of the idea of slippage, as in the sliding of continents over and under each other, and also of the arbitrary nature of spelling and labeling. Sure, today there are geometric shapes on a map that represent the creek, the creek’s protected parkland, the creek’s watershed, but those shapes, and the names applied, have changed and will change. What’s in a name? Well, Wissahickon is a suburban refuge for urban citizens. Wysihicken [sic] is a conglomerate of Dutch colonists, and Lenape tribes, and German Rosicrucian doomsdayers, with tongues that make sounds unfamiliar to, alien to, the English of my own tongue. And I wanted to capture that, the way a spelling can change something so familiar, both in the eye and maybe even in the ear. And, since you mention the neologisms and other diction choices, I should say that I strove for the occasional ‘clumped-up’ compound word, which I saw as mimetic, too, of the clumping of various materials in the forest. I wanted, too, with ‘glasswater,’ to express the very specific look of the still, flat, mirrored surface of the creek on a windless day, but the way it juxtaposed with ‘Ganshewehanna’ (‘noisy water’), the Lenape name for the Dutch-named Schuylkill, was also very attractive to me. So I used a trick I learned from my study of German, and from Truman Capote (‘summeryellow’ he wrote, somewhere, I swear), compounding a new word. Amelia Bentley suggested I get rid of ‘simmering,’ and I agreed. But before striking the word, I looked up the etymology, and discovered that in addition to our received idea of ‘slowly boiling,’ the word has older meanings related to ‘cement.’ That the word holds both these meanings, simultaneously, of movement and stasis, meant that it had to stay. As for the shapes of the poem, there is definitely a mimetic quality to the look of the poem on the page, and that was important to me from early on—I was interested in there being another layer or facet to the language, something that might come through in the layout. Cristophe – as you know, publisher for Furniture Press – made a really great suggestion that I try for something more organic, less ergonomic and clean, than the blocky original layout. So I changed the measurement of the ‘tab’ key, seven hundredths of an inch, rather than half an inch, in order to achieve something more sinuous, less rigid.

TA: We’ve been talking about the ‘groundlessness’ of language and place in your poem. You refuse to treat this as a metaphysical condition instead, you document the colonial and industrial violence that turns Wysihicken into Wissahickon. I’d like you to talk about the poem’s political strategies: does its mimetic commitment preclude taking a political stance on the violence it documents? Or is mimesis itself urgently political?

JB: I want to go in all the directions in order to answer that! I’ll start by saying that, while I do try to anchor my ‘groundless’ language in the literal as much as possible—historical accounts, geological data—I am very much interested in the metaphysical questions ‘what might be?’ and ‘what might be the nature of that Might Be-ing?’ I am just as likely to think of myself as a staunch materialist as a believer in things unseen. To go ‘way out there,’ and to fuse those parts of my mind, it may be useful to quote NASA: “everything on Earth, everything ever observed with all of our instruments…adds up to less than 5%” of the universe. Ontologically, we’ve got a lot of work to do to “order” the universe, what is likely an impossible goal. It is, though, comforting to the materialist in me to revel in the work of Linnaeus naming things and categorizing them lends a sense of order, and control, to what is the riot of existence, and I do find great pleasure in naming that red bird with the peaked head feathers, black face feathers, and blood-orange beak: “cardinal.” But, of course, this aspect of mimesis, names as representations, is abjectly political. Look at the ongoing ‘Redskins’ situation. And mimesis as mimicry, too, is political. Look at recent uproar surrounding texts by Jeff Nagy or Josef Kaplan, among others who create or channel personae to some artistic end. I suppose mimesis is inherently political, if not urgently so, so even if I try to limit or preclude a political stance, I will inevitably fail. Even abstention is a stance, after all. But I think I’ve taken a stance in Wysihicken [sic], at least against violence. Not very courageous, admittedly. I am no panglossian, hopeful for an end of the kind of ethnic violence that occurs in the poem, or and end to a hierarchical view of culture or the attendant colonialism that allows for the violence in the first instance, but I believe in the ‘truth’ of the idea that “butchers and their wives / fatten upon the smell of fog” (where fog is ignorance, distraction, and obfuscation), and I am eager to keep in mind the idea that Earthly paradise is just as appropriate a setting for human atrocity as any other locale. I’m thinking now of Williams’ notion that one might access universal ‘truth’ via “contact” with the locality of one’s actual experience, so while I don’t fool myself or anyone else into thinking that a poem, or a news report, or a trending hashtag, will necessarily repair or prevent atrocity, the acknowledgement of such is important to me. That’s why I love Juliana Spahr’s This Connection of Everyone with Lungs. It is an acknowledgment, down to the molecular level, of such violence. Even if only to say, metaphysically, “this is why we can’t have nice things.” I suppose my overall stance is that affiliation, communion around commonality (wherein tradition or ritual is a kind of mimesis), is good for building a sense of attachment or community, but taken to extremes it becomes divisive and inevitably violent. That’s where a love of cataloging, of that vestigial hierarchy of Linnaeus’, can run into an ethical morass.

TA: I’d like you to talk about how this chapbook fits into your broader projects. It seems, in its mimetic detail and its formal austerity, quite different from some of your other work—I’m thinking for instance of the poems you read at the Penn Book Center in March 2013, which were prose-y, carnivalesque, detailed, lush, and very political. Do those poems share the same politics of mimesis? Or is your politics strategic, responsive to the form and subject of your poems? Better, what’s next?

JB: Oh, yeah, the prose poems (from a manuscript titled seeking blank slate: postcards out of eudaimonia) are a different thing altogether! One of the major differences between eudaimonia and Wysihicken, which I wrote in that order, is that, while political, the ‘postcard poems’ are also very, very personal. I began that series of poems after a particularly difficult breakup, which left me alone in a new city without friends or a network of support, ruing and jealous and self-flagellating. I think, for the first time, I really started to address my own undesirable qualities (the rue and jealousy and self-flagellation, among others) and to write about them, learn from them, maybe rewire my emotional register and behavior a little. And that led to a larger investigation of privilege, my own, as white, male, cis, straight, blonde over blue…I mean, go down the list of American ‘leaders,’ especially early on, and you’ll see some of the biggest bullies and tantrum-throwers, and I was trying to prove to myself that I wasn’t that guy. You know, that I wasn’t Jefferson or Washington, spouting one politically benevolent ideology and doing quite the opposite in the day-to-day. That’s an extreme example, but, I think it makes a point. So, it’s a text that addresses issues both personal and political, and leans, I guess, not toward resignation but maybe reconciliation, with some outbursts along the way. Getting right with the political identity I’ve got, and making sure what I believe and do are in alignment, and trying to adjust as necessary. I was very interested in getting myself into those poems, and—to address the question of broader projects or approach—since I have anxiety about repeating myself, I usually strive for formal and stylistic and tonal shifts between one manuscript and another. Hence the austerity, the mimetic concrete-ness, the “I”-less-ness of Wysihicken. I bet someone could do it, but I can’t even think about writing that poem as first-person lyric! As for next, I’m working more on establishing a practice and facility with translation, specifically of Petr Bezruč, a Czech poet who wrote his major work in just a handful of years at the cusp of the 19th and 20th centuries. There are other original works I’ve got going, but they’re still somewhat nebulous or ill-formed, as ideas and also in many instances as poems. But they are, for the most part, short-ish, kind of like Wysihicken segments, but a lot snarkier. As a way of closing, I’d like to thank you—so much!—for such great, probing questions. Thanks, Toby!!

Toby Altman is a conceptual poet. His poems have appeared. He is the author of and the recipient of. He currently lives in, where he works as and serves on the editorial board for. For more of his, please visit his and follow him on.


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