Sunday, February 26, 2012
Review, Poetica Magazine, Contemporary Jewish Writing, Holocaust Edition Spring 2012, PO Box 11014, Norfolk, Virginia 23517, www.poeticamagazine.com, Michal Mahgerefteh, Editor-in Chief, 64 pages.
Review by Barbara Bialick, author of TIME LEAVES
At my age, the word “holocaust” reminds me of when I read about all of the horrors, as a child in Hebrew School, of the slaughter by the Germans of 6 million Jews during World War II from 1939 to 1945. That was in the 1960s. But I never forgot… On looking at this special issue of the fine journal Poetica, my thought was Oh no, I can’t read all this again! Yet in well-written poetry by 40 fine poets, is chronicled different views of the nightmare stories of the killing, incarceration, burning and starving, as well as thoughts and memories by and about the survivors.
But I realized who this important collection is really for—the younger generation, who need to hear about it also, or everything that happened will be forgotten. Jews continue to need to be reminded how we have been hated throughout history, even as Israel is often hated today by certain Jews as well as the Palestinians, indeed the whole Middle East.
In the poem, “Holocaust Remembrance Day, 2012”, Helen Bar-Lev writes “the oven warms; a cake bakes/a siren wrenches the heart/the radio plays somber songs/and people retell of the holocaust…of the loss”.
“Why do you sleep, O Lord? Awaken, do not/reject us forever,” writes Bernard Otterman in “Psalm 44 at Auschwitz.”
Another moving poem is “Budapest Shoes” by Jena Smith: “Sixty shoes line Pest bank, cast iron shoes…/shoes of the Jews, Hungarian Jews.”
I really like the poem “I Would Have Called You ‘Oma’” by Joanne Jagoda, about the grandmother she never met: “They shipped you on the train to Auschwitz/and you walked to the showers of gas/your precious light extinguished forever/And when I hold my own sweet grandchild/I think about you…”
This book exists like a holy encyclopedia, written and ready to read, too awful to be quoted so haphazardly. Just buy it and give it to someone of the young generation and let them get sick, too, before the old generations of witnesses and their children disappear, leaving no one to remember what really happened…