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Blood to Remember: American Poets on the Holocaust

(Revised, second edition)


edited by Charles Adès Fishman

 

Auschwitz, All Hallows

(by Cyrus Cassells)

Auschwitz-Birkenau, 1 November 2005

Look, we have made
a counterpoint

of white chrysanthemums,
a dauntless path

of death-will-not-part-us petals
and revering light;

even here,
even here

before the once-wolfish ovens,
the desecrating wall

where you were shot,
the shrike-stern cells

where you were bruised
and emptied of your timebound beauty —

you of the confiscated shoes
and swift-shorn hair,

you, who left,
as sobering testament, the scuffed

luggage of utter hope
and harrowing deception.

Come back, teach us.
From these fearsome barracks

and inglorious fields
flecked with human ash,

in the russet, billowing hours
of All Hallows,

let the pianissimo
of your truest whispering

(vivid as the crunched frost
of a forced march)

become a slowly blossoming,
ever-voluble hearth —

revealing to us,
the baffled, the irresolute,

the war-torn, the living,
more, more, more

of the fire and attar of what it means
to be human.



Summary:

In this twenty-first-century edition of Blood to Remember, the two hundred and forty poets speak to us in nearly four hundred poems that are intoned, whispered, bellowed, sung, moaned. Theirs is the response of American poets to the Holocaust, and while it is often a "second generation" response, the voices of survivors still resound in these pages, as do the stunned outcries and barely muffled sobs of others, who, though neither survivors of the Shoah nor members of their families, must live forever in its aftermath.


Praise:

Building on the successful first edition of this anthology, Fishman adds to the present edition important voices (including Marge Piercy, Jacqueline Osherow, Jerome Rothenberg, and Marjorie Agosin); devotes ample space to the voices of younger poets; and incorporates many different works by poets earlier represented. Unlike anthologies that focus on writers who experienced the Holocaust directly, this collection reveals the indirect impact of the Holocaust on Americans — Jews and gentiles, the children and grandchildren (and distant relatives) of victims and survivors, and those whose connection to the Holocaust has come from testimony, literature, and film. These poets pay tribute to named victims and allude to influential works by Elie Wiesel, Etty Hillesum, Miklós Radnóti, Giorgio Bassani, Claude Landsman, Paul Celan, and Tadeusz Borowski, among others. Evoking Holocaust geography from the ghettos and transit camps of Vilna, Lodz, and Westerbork to the concentration and death camps of Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, Terezin, and Treblinka to the Ponar killing fields, the poets bear eloquent and poignant witness to the slaughter of European Jewry. Of immense value are the poets' statements and the biographies, editorial notes, and glossary. Highly recommended.
Choice

 

This anthology of American Holocaust poetry will be welcomed by both teachers and students, as well as by those merely curious about the Shoah's resonance in the poetic imagination. Furthermore, its sheer comprehensiveness will make this book a valuable addition to any library.
Holocaust and Genocide Studies

 

Despite its horrific subject matter, Charles Fishman's collection of Holocaust poems finds its way to beauty through the transforming power of art. . . . Unrelenting in its refusal to compromise with the facts of history, these poems, through their sheer integrity, lend new credence to Keats' old formula, "Beauty is truth, truth beauty."
Virginia Quarterly Review

 

The poets in this amazing anthology seek to educate, inform, and illuminate. Whether poignant, horrifying, or rage-filled, their poetry speaks truth. The Glossary and Poem Notes are helpful and packed with valuable information. Blood to Remember should be mandatory reading in every high school, college, and seminary in the world. Charles Adès Fishman has compiled a highly recommended, life changing work here.
Midwest Book Review

 

The second edition of Blood to Remember: American Poets on the Holocaust, edited by Charles Adès Fishman, is an important book. Important, of course, because of its subject. But also important because of the voices it contains, the testimonies it raises, the memories it enshrines, the issues it forces us to confront. . . . In Blood to Remember the living speak for the dead, and therefore the dead are not forgotten, cannot be forgotten, will not be forgotten. Blood to Remember is not a book that I can "recommend" on some sort of star system. [It] is not a book to be "recommended," but quite simply a book that must be read. This is a book of human compassion for human beings, and of our ultimate responsibility to each other.
— Michael Burch, TheHyperTexts.com

 

Blood to Remember is not just another anthology; it is a wrenching, powerful experience. Fishman deserves praise and gratitude for ferreting out these talented soloists and creating a mighty chorus to serve as a worthy memorial to the victims of the Holocaust.
Hadassah Magazine


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