I would like to call your attention to the current feature at Writing the Holocaust, which focuses on Marked: Poems of the Holocaust (NYQ Books, 2014), Stephen Herz’s stunning new book. This feature includes two complete poems, “Morgen Früh” and “Whatever You Can Carry”) and a substantial excerpt from “Shots,” Herz’s masterwork that reconnects us to the “Holocaust by Bullets.” An Interview with Herz follows the poems.
Here are two of the comments on the feature that were received after it was posted this week:
* When I was a little kid, when I knew who I was and who I came from I started reading everything I could about the Holocaust. And back then in the early to mid 50s all that information was pouring out, in every newspaper, serialized even, the stories, the events, as people would come forward and tell their stories, or what they witnessed. And then the books, I couldn’t not read them. I became obsessed with it, with this unfathomable hatred and death in such insanely creative ways that was unleashed on millions upon millions of people. Old people, children, infants, simple innocent people like my family – yes throwing infants in the air and shooting them. We had infants in our family. Did they die like that? I’d wonder, how did they die, my family? What was it like for them? Why did it happen? WHY?
Such despair, years of this enormous collective despair, helplessness, hopelessness, to live in Europe then, to be a Jew, to be alone in this horrible world and to be a Jew. These poems are that. They’re excellent. Brutal and beautiful and true. Thank you for doing this post.
Reading this poem brought me back to childhood moments . . . my grieving mother, while deciding what to do with the massive unmanageable head of curls she was faced with, found herself at a moment of oneness with me, her namesake for her precious mother, my grandmother Dvora, both my grandparents, killed by beatings by a group of Gestapo, out searching the fields for Jews in hiding . . . my poor grieving mother searched to find me and cry out to me . . . at the tender age of six or eight, she began, in the only language she spoke with me . . . in Yiddish . . .”They shot my mother, my father, They shot my poor brother running with his wife and 3 young children . . . They are killing Jews,” she continued, in the Yiddish version of my name. She called out . . . Dvora . . . you are my name . . . so it was my childhood sharing time with my mother. Reading this poem was not difficult for me. It was familiar sounding, sharing times with my mother. I have had many moments in my life when I needed to feel strong . . . and it always brought me back to the courage she had and that I must continue to overcome all fears. I now live in Israel, I feel privileged, I feel no fear, no despair, on the contrary, I feel united and proud as a nation . . . of course we all feel enormous grief, personal losses. We pray as a nation. I pray alone . . .
John Guzlowski and I encourage you to visit Writing the Holocaust and to read this feature on Stephen Herz and Marked: