In this startling collection of poetry, Alice Derry contemplates an awkward, even taboo, subject -- the persecution and suffering of the German population before, during, and after World War II. Sparked by her desire to capture in verse the torment of her German cousins, who had survived the horrors of war only to be separated by the division of Germany, Derry composed these poems over a quarter century, ultimately chronicling the anguish of an entire people who "deserved" their lot, a people permanently tainted by the horrifying events of the Third Reich and the Holocaust.
"Before I realized that I was becoming part of a contaminated language and people, I was part of them," writes Derry in her powerful introductory essay, an eloquent discussion of racism, ethnic prejudice, and learned hatred. Indeed, Derry's intensely personal poems have an immediacy that approaches documentary. She divides the poems into two sections, the first telling the stories of her German relatives trapped behind the Iron Curtain, often from their point of view. "When I felt our first son move inside me ... / I walked into the cold, muddy spring, / the rubbled streets, and took my place / in the food lines" ("Mechthild Tells Her Story"). The second section ponders the distinct experiences of German Americans.
By giving voice to a group that Americans and others have been given permission to hate, Derry eloquently reveals a subtle truth about blame and guilt -- in the end we are all implicated, all human suffering is a part of each of us.
|Publisher:||Louisiana State University Press|
|Edition description:||New Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.30(d)|
Table of Contents
|Part I||Strangers to Their Courage||1|
|I.||Mechthild Tells Her Story||23|
|VI.||For Our Children||36|
|VII.||Getting Her Story Right||40|
|VIII.||Even So, I May Not Have Lain against You||44|
|Part III||German American||49|
|You Call It a German Love Story||56|
|Or the Dream?||64|
|Small Gifts of Fruit||67|
|He Grew Up West of Innsbruck||68|
|Two Sisters: Some Remnants||70|
|Were You Blind?||74|
|"Well, If That's What You Lived Through ..."||77|
|Herself a Daughter||80|
|Whether He Was Still Running West||82|
|No Way but Forward||84|
|Reading the Names||86|