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.
How to Spot One of Us: Poems
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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