To mark Holocaust Memorial Day this year, we’re highlighting a number of our titles by poets whose writing has been shaped by the Holocaust.
Poetry of the Holocaust: An Anthology edited by Jean Boase-Beier & Marian de Vooght
This anthology aims to give a fuller picture than do most Holocaust anthologies of the poetry that arose from the Holocaust. Here there are poems from languages that are less often associated with the Holocaust (such as Norwegian or Japanese), and there are poems by, or about, those victimised for perceived disabilities, or because they were gay, or because their political or religious beliefs made them targets of Nazi hatred.
While I am Drawing Breath, by Rose Ausländer
translated from the German and introduced by Anthony Vivis & Jean Boase-Beier
‘There were two ways to respond to that unbearable reality’ wrote Rose Ausländer thirty years later, remembering the Czernowitz ghetto under the Nazis. ‘Either one could despair entirely, or one could occupy a different, spiritual reality […] while we waited for death, there were those of us who dwelt in dreamwords – our traumatic home amidst our homelessness. To write was to live.’
Memorial to the Future, by Volke von Törne
translated from the German by Jean Boase-Beier
Volke von Törne was born in 1934, the son of a unit commander in the SS. Today, he is remembered internationally for his work as a Director of the Action Reconciliation Service for Peace (Aktion Sühnezeichen Friedensdienste), an organisation founded in 1958 with an admission of German guilt for the war and the Holocaust and a pledge to make reparation. Von Törne’s poignant poetry is a powerful and moving articulation of the psychological burden still carried by countless people today through no fault of their own.
Recycling, by Tadeusz Rózewicz
translated from the Polish by Barbara Plebanek & Tony Howard
‘Rózewicz is a poet of chaos with a nostalgia for order. Around him and in himself he sees only broken fragments, a senseless rush… his world is situated between the holocaust of the last war and the threat of future annihilation.’ Czeslaw Milosz
‘I am haunted by the vision of history and politics which I draw from Rózewicz.’
Sometimes a Single Leaf, by Esther Dischereit
translated from the German by Iain Galbraith
‘From these splinters, flowers bloom: where the dead lie, trees grow and we must walk among them. In these poems, Esther Dischereit, whose mother was one of the few who survived the Holocaust in hiding within Nazi Germany, lays the present over the past with piercing effect.’ Preti Taneja
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