Adam Kam­mer­ling

January 14, 2020

A beau­ti­ful lyric col­lec­tion’ — Ilya Kaminsky
This inno­v­a­tive debut col­lec­tion from Adam Kam­mer­ling is an archival and deft account of a per­son reck­on­ing with their her­itage and fam­i­ly his­to­ry. Hybrid, dex­ter­ous and informed, Kam­mer­ling retraces his Jew­ish ances­try as poems fluc­tu­ate through time and space, leav­ing us with a for­bid­ding sense that what has changed over recent decades is not enough.

To say that Seder is a beau­ti­ful, mov­ing book would be true. But what does it mean? It means Seder is a book of very lyric poems where silences say as much as words do. It is a book of grief, that opens the grief up — no, blows it up — from the inside. Seder is a book of mem­o­ry, the kind that refus­es to leave us: a book where­in his­tor­i­cal trau­ma is all too real, echo­ing our own present moment — echo­ing with a warn­ing. And, yet, there is also ten­der­ness, there is love show­ing me the ground where I could lie down.” Indeed, a beau­ti­ful lyric col­lec­tion.’ — Ilya Kaminsky

Discussion Questions

Seder by Adam Kam­mer­ling is an exper­i­men­tal, lyric, stream-of-con­scious­ness account of the Holo­caust writ­ten by a grand­child of sur­vivors. The frag­ment­ed forms enact the ways in which inter­gen­er­a­tional trau­ma — and espe­cial­ly sur­vivors’ sto­ries — are often passed down through fam­i­lies. A series of poems dis­man­tling Nazi pro­pa­gan­da posters uti­lizes typo­graph­i­cal exper­i­men­ta­tion and com­men­tary, while poems about the poet’s grand­fa­ther angli­ciz­ing his name use frag­ment­ed syn­tax and enjamb­ment: to see what a Jew owns after the war/​roll it in his fin­gers a Jew­ish name will be/​spelled by what his machine takes away.” In a year with many vital col­lec­tions memo­ri­al­iz­ing the Shoah, Seder ren­ders the bur­den of his­to­ry in the very sting of its syntax.