How to Spot One of Us: Poems

  • Review
By – March 2, 2012

Writ­ten in plain, some­times sparse free verse, How to Spot One of Us brooks no soft words to tem­per the harsh real­i­ty of the actu­al events of the Holo­caust or the hor­rif­ic mem­o­ries left for its sur­vivors and their rel­a­tives. The title poem clear­ly elu­ci­dates the accents, fear of absence of a loved one, fore­arms with num­bers described to the neigh­bors as phone num­bers,” con­ver­sa­tions with­out men­tion­ing the past, and those who “…wish words could just be words, wish camp’ / or selec­tion’ didn’t make us flinch…” In My Father’s Sis­ter,” there’s no dis­tract­ing fan­ta­sy to help alle­vi­ate painful rec­ol­lec­tion, and the yel­low brick road / did not lead to the gates / of the Emer­ald City. / It led to the gates of Auschwitz.” Retelling is a pow­er­ful poem equat­ing the Egypt­ian exo­dus with the need to leave Ger­many, “…in every gen­er­a­tion, / one must regard him­self as if he had per­son­al­ly gone out from Egypt.” The three mem­o­rable parts of this poet­ry col­lec­tion span the war, emi­gra­tion, and the past merg­ing into the present. Let us nev­er for­get—How to Spot One of Us is a unique con­tri­bu­tion to assure that the world does exact­ly that.

Deb­o­rah Schoen­e­man, is a for­mer Eng­lish teacher/​Writing Across the Cur­ricu­lum Cen­ter Coor­di­na­tor at North Shore Hebrew Acad­e­my High School and coed­i­tor of Mod­ern Amer­i­can Lit­er­a­ture: A Library of Lit­er­ary Crit­i­cism, Vol. VI, pub­lished in 1997.

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