Requiem: Poems of the Terez%C3%ADn Ghetto

Paul B. Janeczko. Candlewick, $16.99 (112p) ISBN 978-0-7636-4727-8
Poet Janeczko (Worlds Afire) imagines life inside a Czech concentration camp in this collection of grim but forceful poems, written from the perspectives of fictionalized prisoners (with the exception of one "found” poem from a real-life inmate's journal), as well as their persecutors. Actual b&w sketches by prisoners that were recovered from the camp are also woven throughout. Janeczko allows his subjects to express their despair, confusion, and rage with unvarnished clarity. A musician, Anna Teller, acerbically describes how the Nazis permitted the prisoners to play music, wanting "the world to see/ the civilized and charming ghetto/ Hitler gave the Jews.” Another prisoner envisions seeking revenge for the murder of a loved one: "I would like to feed him my Sarah's ashes/ one spoonful after another/ without pause/ until he could no longer breathe.” Janeczko offers no easy explanations or closure where none can be found, but his powerful collection points to the troubling dual role that the arts played at Terezín—both as a chilling form of propaganda used by Nazis and an undeniable source of respite for their victims. Ages 12–up. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 11/14/2011
Release date: 08/01/2011
Paperback - 112 pages - 978-0-7636-6465-7
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