Susan Margulies Kalish, author

What people are saying about The Cerebral Jukebox



The memories of Stuyvesant Town in the sixties and conjurings of childhood friendships are so vivid. I particularly admired the story-poem about the author's exhausted mother sending her two little girls downstairs for a birthday present.  The book is filled with wonderful snapshots of that time and place and those beleaguered men and women known as our parents.


Donald Margulies, Pulitzer Prize winner, 2000, drama.

Yale University



Sue Kalish collects and recollects the past in precise, imagistic narratives, a poetic style that has much in common with her father's photographs which accompany the text.  Whether she's writing about growing up in Stuyvesant Town and the Lower East Side, going to college in Harlem, eating dim sum in Flushing or observing couples in Madison Square Park, her aptly titled Cerebral Jukebox is the vessel that recalls these memories which unfold with the invocation of lyrics to songs that defined a generation raised in Fifties' innocence but who came of age in Sixties' turbulence.  Kalish made it through and what a New York tale she tells.

Kirpal Gordon, reviewer,



I want to tell you how much I am enjoying The Cerebral Jukebox! As a native New Yorker myself, the subject matter really resonates with me...I especially enjoyed Good Humor...even though my "Good Humor Man" waited for me each afternoon on the corner of 86th and 5th!

Christine Schott, Deputy editor, Prestige Magazine



Dear, dear Sue:

I stopped at page 92, and it was not easy; only because I had chores to do. I can't wait to resume reading. What a great talent you are! But then I already knew that from your blogging.

Thanks so very much for this magnificent treasure. It's such an easy read and it does exactly what you set out to do; takes the reader right along with you at every turn, and, is the most interesting book of poetry I have ever read. Terrific format. I was blown away with Birthing at Bocuse. I love it.

You might be interested to know that so far I have a list of four people who I want to have a copy and I have already checked it out on Amazon.

I must go now. I'm going to have my lunch on the balcony and resume reading The Cerebral Jukebox. I will keep in touch.

Congratulations for a job well done.

Blessings be yours............Ellie




I enjoyed it very much ...being autobiographical, it was like watching YOUR life, flash before my eyes... The selections that I particularly liked were: "Credo" (all of it) "Potsy", "Theft", "Birthing at Bocuse" (very entertaining), "The Cricket Connection"...I especially loved the line: "what will happen to mankind? And: why isn't man kind?" in that one... "Before The First Frost", "What the Birds Know", "The Lake" (great imagery in that one), "Tina Tina Proud and Free", and I really, really liked, "On Leaves". What I love about this book is that it's so hold your hands out and display it all in each palm, sometimes innocent, sometimes quite raw...



Got the book today. Thanks for stirring up some memories- can't wait to delve into it. Had to read about the ice cream man - Sam was the good humor man on my corner and he always called my sister Chocolata. How about those toasted almond pops!!- More later-





Hello Sue:

I used to live in Stuyvesant Town, and you described it in such minute, accurate detail. The south side of 14th Street is still as you described it, except the names of the stores have changed. And now you will see air-conditioners at Stuyvesant Town windows and upscale landscaping. But very little else has changed. I lived there for more than 25 years, until October 2006.

Your book is not difficult to read and your style is most entertaining. I relived some of the experiences you illustrated and loved your photographs and drawings. Keep writing; you're good at it, and you have stories to tell.





Your book has arrived. I spent yesterday afternoon and last night pawing over it...consuming it, as it consumed me. I see you and feel you, on every page. I love the chronology, the elegant flow through the years and the journey you take the readers on.

The imagery is fantastic, like a movie that runs through the minds eye in technicolour, and at times, in just browns or black and white. ...the full spectum, and each a priceless gem as a stand alone as well as a small, but integral part of this exceptional body of work.

What an accomplishment....the photographs and artwork are amazing also. All that incredible history. This is a very valuable book and New Yorkers should be proud of this piece of Art/History.

My favourite poem may surprise you... "The Vase".

I so love this poem. I relate to it on so many levels. I read it over and over. Thank you......
Thank you for the journey through your life, thank you for you, and most of all, thank you for being my friend.





Dearest Sue,

I HAVE RECEIVED THE BOOK!!! I don't know how to thank you... It is simply fabulous. Even before acknowledging receipt, like a glutton, I had to devour it from cover to cover. An accessible author? As far as I am concerned, you are far more than that: you have created a complete empathy with this reader. I have experienced your experiences, seen what you have seen, felt what you have felt, heard what you have heard - in other words, I have become YOU! You have rocked me with your musicality, charmed me with your magic, taken my hand and led me through a wondrous kind of déjà-vu, yet completely fresh and original.

I have enjoyed everything about the book: from the graphic layout to the nostalgic b/w pictures; from the subdivision into seven Parts (a lot to delve into and discover) to the quotations; from the evoked songs to the unforgettable tableaux you paint with words - sometimes delicate, sometimes disturbing, always incisive.

It has taken blood, sweat and tears, but it was worth it. The end product is immaculate. I want to read more of your unique poetry. I know you have an infinity of other poems waiting for publication.

I have decided to send copies of the paperback to my best friends as Xmas or birthday presents, I am sure they will love it.

With my sincerest gratitude, and an encouragement to keep composing and making the world a still better place.

Grazie. Ti voglio bene!




Am devouring the book...remembering many of the little stories you shared with me over the years...remembering shared experiences as a fellow New Yorker traveling through the same space and how you skillfully wove in these stories and personalized them, clothing the characters (victims) with dignity...





Dear Sue,
I was so thrilled to receive your long awaited book.
Your words paint a picture so rich in detail that I forget that some of it happened 40 years ago and feel myself transported to the Stuyvesant Town you knew good bad and ugly. I honestly can't think of just one favorite, as I love them all. Thank you for trusting me enough to allow me into your most vivid and personal memories. It is indeed a privilege to know you.

Congratulations and Best wishes




Life is like a box of chocolates. you never know what you are going to get."
~Forrest Gump's mom

"We bombarded them with our teenage laughter;
the chasing, tagging, squealing.
The tripping over cobblestones,
the climbing on benches.
the gawking, flirting, clusters of faces
under acne cream.
We were drowning in our hormonal soup,
too old to play jump rope, too young to date."

excerpted from this book; poetry entitled Soldier Boy

I struggled.....NOT with this book (O My Stars.....NO!), but with finding a proper genre in which to place this wonderful book, LOL. i suppose i could have place it in the non-fiction category, but then there is the fabulous photography and artwork to consider, so I just placed it in the *other* category. I hope you do not mind that, Souci.

these are stories written in free-form verse of growing up; rites of passages, coming of age, family bonds, religion, city life, friendship, gardening, cats, love, get the idea.

its Wonders
and its

as seen through the remembering eyes of the author (who wrote me a very lovely dedication, BTW). these are her life experiences. the characters and subjects of which they are comprised inspired me, made me laugh and made me cry.

Her well told tales are poignant, powerful and somehow mysteriously mixed with a healthy dose of raw urban honesty AND lightheartedness. i found something or someone with which to relate in each one.

it is an absolute treasure and I will definitely be reading this one, over and over again.





Hi Sue,

I got the book on Saturday, along with your lovely card. I spent a good deal of the day out in the sun with it, and not a few tears (I love you Liviu, Roseann Quinn and look forward to returning to it again this coming weekend. And your referencing " Duke of Earl " - I can't fathom why that song is so haunting, but it is. Maybe you had to be there, as we were. Thank you for signing the book to me with your lovely thoughts. And your card is great! Much success with both.




…I felt as if I were travelling through the museum of your mind and couldn't put it down.

I couldn't liken your style to anyone in particular, and yet to me it 'smacks' of Richard Hugo, Gwendolyn Brooks and Langston Hughs. Richard Hugo once wrote a striking poem about a ghost town where he's from in Montana, which he'd entitled 'Degrees of Gray in Philipsburg'. I loved it so and used to read it with great results to first year college students who confessed their hatred of poetry. One guy even said: 'That's not poetry!' I answered; 'Why not?' 'Because I LIKE it,' he said.

And why am I thinking of Gwendolyn Brooks and Langston Hughes? Well, of course you're not African-American or coming from the culture of the 'Harlem Renaissance'. Yet, you've taken the working class of Stuyvesant Town and waved your magic wand over it all, which is like shaking a dull little plastic toy and watching all the glittering snow fall - which, in your case, is through the use of descriptive words - and charming it into a captivating scene. Well done, you!

I'm a fan.



I`ve Got Mail!

Hi Susan,

Love The Vase and how you turned your last verse into a strong image of a major scene of those years.

Looking forward to reading more,





… the entire body of work was so beautifully strung together into this elegant movie of your life, the people you have known, events that have shaped you into you. I love it! You are an artist with words and imagery and emotion, all of which you repeatedly invoked in me.

Absolutely amazing, Sue! I am in awe and quite star struck at having your work, printed and in my house and hands. It's a pleasure and I'm looking forward to reading it over and over again. Thank you for sharing your life with us.




I love your book. 
I mean I really love it.
I don't have the right words.
I know this.  It touches my heart in ways I didn't expect.






Susan Margulies Kalish's first book of poetry, entitled, "The Cerebral Jukebox", will become a classic in modern literature. She has a natural talent for taking her readers on a journey with her. With her intriguing style of writing, expressing her hauntingly vivid memories of the past, growing up on the lower east side of New York City in the post WWII era, her words will move you...forever. Recalling memories such as lost relationships, anti-semitism as a child, reflections of Europe, and a lamentation for 9/11, you will not want to put this book down. I would highly recommend her work, but to fully enjoy it, you must be able to put the time aside to savor each moment. Please welcome my sister to the literary world.






Opening the pages of “The Cerebral Jukebox” is to dive into a treasure box of memories and of life. There’s something truly magical in recording lived experiences and histories through words that then have the ability to remain and exist independently and be shared. The rich glimpses we are privileged to view via this book’s sensitive writing, poetry and photography, opens my eyes to another city, another world, another individual, again and again; while at the same time also poignantly reminding me of so many small and irrevocable precious moments from my own childhood and life. While enjoying reading this book, I find that we are sometimes surprisingly united in similar memories, and other unfamiliar stories resonate as shared new experiences via words. Reading “The Cerebral Jukebox” is to take a vivid journey.  Beautiful. 


Lea C.





Your brilliant masterpiece of literary art, entitled, “The Cerebral Jukebox,” has earned the eternal number one spot in my heart as well as my library. The universal appeal transcends time as your colorful palette of words blend so perfectly to reawaken the “once upon a time” that made us who we are. Senses that have been dormant for decades are reborn, as you so aptly mesmerize the reader, compelling each to reach to the soul for the same inner solace once sought as we evolved, experiencing life’s bumpy rude awakenings while savoring the sprinkles of good that fell in between!


Your inimitable ability to paint vibrant, masterful images as you pen your words so eloquently on the canvas of time, touches all emotions and releases all senses, allowing the reader to revisit and rekindle an introspective forever place. I will be back again for many servings of this intellectual, down to earth, delectable cerebral feast. It stimulates and satisfies the mind’s palate without the calories. “The Cerebral Jukebox” is a prolific work of genius.


Jacqueline D'Elia

Tourniquet Inc.



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