Saturday, April 16, 2011

REQUIEM by Paul B. Janeczko

Poetry Tag continues with a book review of a new book of poetry connected to yesterday's book review.

Today’s tagline: More poems about history

Guest Reviewer: Debbie Owen

Featured Book: Janeczko, Paul B. 2011. Requiem: Poems of the Terezin Ghetto. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press. ISBN 978-0-7636-4727-8.

Debbie writes: In this small, but powerful book, poet Paul B. Janeczko gives readers a haunting look into the lives of Jews imprisoned in the Terezin Concentration Camp. Terezin was proudly hailed by Hitler as a sanctuary for artistic Jews. As proof of this refuge, The Red Cross was allowed to tour the camp. Janeczko chronicles this visit in the poem titled “SS Lieutenant Theodor Lang” found below.

Though most of the characters in Janeczko's poems are fictional, the poems were informed by research and based on historical events and facts. Janeczko uses the “Author's Note” to inform readers on factual aspects of his book. Though not completed yet in this ARC, there is a section reserved at the back of the book for “English Translations of Foreign Words”. Janeczko also provides readers with additional resources such as books, websites, and DVD's. Artwork found at Terezin after the war is distributed throughout. These dramatic black and white drawings are a testament to the atrocities experienced by the Jews. In this advance copy, all artwork is not yet finalized.

Paul B. Janeczko provides readers with a moving, lyrical view into the hearts of the imprisoned men, women, and children of Terezin Ghetto as well as German soldiers. It's this look into the perspective of German soldiers that makes Janeczko's Requiem: Poems of the Terezin Ghetto one of the more unique books on Holocaust poetry.

Highlighted Poem (excerpt) from Requiem: Poems of the Terezin Ghetto

SS Lieutenant Theodor Lang
“Because of the meddlesome king of Denmark
we were forced
to allow
Red Cross inspectors to visit our town.
We had months to prepare
our show, a charade
to show them that there was no truth
to the pesky rumors about how
we treated our Jews.”

The poem details the preparations for the Red Cross visit, and yet, ends with the chilling truth:

“The inspectors
were in our town for a short time,
only long enough to see
what we wanted them to see.
No more.
They saw enough
to know that we were treating the Jews
in a civilized and humane manner.
We waited a few months
to resume the transports.
The town was getting crowded
and the ovens of Auschwitz waited.”

Teachers could use this poem in a study of the propaganda used during WWII and Hitler's use of it for the express purpose of covering up the systematic slaughter of millions of Jewish citizens.

Tomorrow’s tagline: Poetry that offers hope

[We’re now more than halfway through Poetry Month—still time to grab a copy of PoetryTagTime, an e-book with 30 poems, all connected, by 30 poets, all connected and downloadable right now at Amazon for your Kindle or Kindle app for your computer, iPad or phone. Just 99 cents.]

Image credit: Candlewick; PoetryTagTime

Posting (not poem) by Sylvia M. Vardell and students © 2011. All rights reserved.

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