Religion & Beliefs

New Holocaust Poems?

It isn’t often that I get to bring poetry into the Jewcy realm, but last night I found myself at a reading… thinking to myself, “Hey! I can blog about this!” The poet was a young woman named Carly Sachs. … Read More

By / February 9, 2007

It isn’t often that I get to bring poetry into the Jewcy realm, but last night I found myself at a reading… thinking to myself, “Hey! I can blog about this!”

The poet was a young woman named Carly Sachs. Her book is called The Steam Sequence. It offers us…

…a journey into the mind of a Holocaust survivor in which past becomes present, as this woman struggles to locate herself. The steam sequence asks us to examine the silences and the spaces between memory and reality.

In all truth, I didn’t know anything about the book or the writer, and when Carly stood up and introduced her poems, and I heard the words, “the holocaust” I groaned on the inside. She even started with a Primo Levi quote, and so I was expecting something much… different (or rather, something much more expected).

But these are very particular poems. Carly has done something kind of brazen. She has imagined a voice, a spirit and a body. She has made a book out of moments and images. There’s God in there, and loss… but the book isn’t heavy handed, and so the spirit and sadness are more real. More poetry.

I’m not sure how many of you read poems, but this is a kind of crossover book. Meaningful for the Jewish community for obvious reasons. And in its simplicity and shared history, a good introduction to contemporary poetry. Henry Israeli had this to say:

A ghost story written by ghosts, about ghosts—an unnamed Jewish woman, a Nazi soldier, a dead child—the steam sequence implores the reader to remember, remember, and more importantly, never forget. Sachs’s words—like the crisscrossing images of the violin and razor in her series of startling, fragmented verses—manage to cut while they sing. Primo Levi would be pleased to know that a writer like Sachs, who refuses to let the atrocities of the Holocaust slide into the pages of history books, still exists today.