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Review: While I am Drawing Breath, by Rose Ausländer

Ankie Huijben, Dundee University Review of the Arts, 4 Feb 2015

Rosalie Beatrice Scherzer was born in 1901 in Czernowitz to German-speaking Jewish parents. Having studied literature and philosophy at the city's university, she emigrated to the US in 1921 with Ignaz Ausländer, her future husband. Although she was divorced from Ausländer after only three years of marriage, she is still best known as Rose Ausländer. Throughout her career, Ausländer was influenced by her Second World War experiences and by the end of her life, she was recognised as one of the most veracious poets of the post-war period. Ausländer deals with a variety of emotions and, oftentimes, offers a bleak and sombre view on the world, including of her own feelings and experiences. A quiet melancholy characterises the entire collection and points clearly towards a poet who has tried to come to terms with her past. Yet while her poems represent an internalised melancholia, the attentive reader can also find glimpses of hopefulness.