Pauli Rose Libsohn: Poetic Promise Kept

Pauli Photo 12
Pauli Rose Libsohn

A Manhasset author who’s immortalizing her late mother in a book series is preparing for the release of her sixth novel, Messages of Love Remembered, this spring.

Pauli Rose Libsohn, who has worked at Rallye Motors in Roslyn for the past 38 years, launched her literary career in 2014, when she arranged and edited a book of poems by her mother, Mitzi Libsohn, that marked the first book published by either of them. The latest effort includes romantic poetry that her parents wrote to each other in greeting cards from 1945 on, along with Pauli’s own thoughts, she told the Press.

The new book is much “like a window into my parents’ lives,” she says.

Part of the story dates back to 1971, when the author was taking a creative writing class at Long Island University (LIU Post) and got a homework assignment to write a poem.

“I was in a panic because … I didn’t think I could write a poem,” she says, adding that she struggled but managed to finally write that poem, which she called “Imitation of a Poem.”

With her mother’s encouragement, she turned it in, then forgot about it. That inspired her mother to write a poem of her own called “Duet.” When her mother read it to Pauli and and her father, David, the two of them were dumbfounded.

“It was so magnificent,” she recalls, noting that it was the first time she learned of her mother’s writing talent. It started her mother’s poetry career.

“For 35 years, my mother and I would sit at the kitchen table and she wrote poetry and she would go over it with me, and I would help with the title [and] I would give her constructive criticism and then I would type up these poems,” she recalls.

Pauli convinced her mother to publish her poetry, so she helped put a manuscript together.

After David passed away in 2004, Mitzi continued to write until she passed four years later. Pauli put the manuscript in her mom’s closet and left it there for three years.

“She died because of the stress of my father passing,” she says. “She couldn’t live without him.”

When Pauli was ready emotionally, she took out the manuscript, because she had promised to publish it, she says.

“For the first time, I realized that the poems [Mitzi] had written were really about …  her romance with my father, from beginning to end, when they first met on the beach at Far Rockaway in the 1930s all the way up until the end when he passed away, and she never told me that,” Pauli says.

After some difficulty finding a publisher – poetry is a tougher sell than prose – she found Staten Island-based Page Publishing, which agreed to publish Immortal Kisses: Confessions of a Poet.

Pauli said she then found 135 poems in a box that Mitzi had written after David died that included poems written to him. She decided to publish them also, in a collection called Songs of You: A Postscript in 2016. She found another box of her mom’s writing, including poetic dissertations about love and books she had read, and that became the book Silhouettes: Literary Passageways, also published in 2016.

People found the love story about her parents appealing and urged her to write about it, so she went on to write the first book entirely on her own, What Is Love, published in June.

A fifth book followed in October, which included a combination of her mom’s writings about Shakespeare written when Mitzi was 20 and Pauli’s own biographical writing, called My Mother and Shakespeare: A Daughter’s Journey.

This is a “whole new career that I developed for myself through my mother,” she says, adding: “I wanted everyone to know about her because she was so special. She had such talent … I couldn’t stand it that [her] poems would be locked up in a drawer. Everyone had to know about her. That’s what my dream [was] and that’s what drove me, along with the promise I made.”