It is bravery, deep belly- pit emotional recollection, real creative wit and spiritual consciousness that makes Gail Newman a distinguished poet. Newman is a chronicler of lives survived under the rough spike of war; lives lived under the cruel hard knuckle of death. Her poetry is succulent with hard truth. The verses tremble with confessional vibe. Reason within the marrow of each verse is heart blazing and the emotional carried within is blood chilling. Gail Newman is an extraordinary poet, a merchant of truth and a survivor of the most vicious holocaust. Her poetry speaks to the bones of causalities of the deadly holocaust, to the spirits of her people roaming in the cemeteries, her poetry speaks to the soil of her motherland, the soil today that heave with grief of her sisters and brothers burnt to cinder by the devilish fires of darkness. Legendary literary combatant Newman chronicles heart rending memories and soul pricking poetic hymns in her latest poetry collection Blood Memory, published in 2020 by Marsh Hawk Press, New York. The TIME OF THE POET REPUBLIC is profoundly registering gratitude to the prolific Poet, Acclaimed Writer and Accomplished chronicler Gail Newman- (Blurb by Mbizo CHIRASHA)
Gail Newman is placing a plaque in Auschwitz with the March of the Living on Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, 2016.
The First and Last
Early in the war, when her father was taken—
before the ghetto,
before starvation and the deportations
before Rumkowski pleaded,
Brothers and sisters, give them to me!
before the children hid in basements, inside heaps
of garbage, in fields, covered with leaves
and branches, before my own father concealed himself
under a mattress, before
I must cut off limbs in order to save the body—
my mother walked alone down the Jew-shuttered street
to ask the collaborator for news of the dead.
Note: The italicized quotes are from a speech by Chaim Rumkowski , who was appointed by the Nazis as head of the Jewish Council of Elders in the Łódź Ghetto. He is remembered for his speech Give Me Your Children in which he demanded the deportation of 20,000 children to the Chelmo extermination camp.
The Łódź Ghetto Documents Office
Her left hand on the table
holds steady an index card,
while with the right she rubs off
the damning curled leg
of a five, the ample breast of a zero,
adding a loop to make a number older,
erasing another to diminish the truth.
Though the card is unlined, the script
soldiers straight across the page.
With feet rooted on the floor,
hands soiled with lead, she bends
over the table—working
through the thin hours.
Satisfied, she settles the card
back in the box and pulls free another,
while, outside, clouds race over the city,
the sky bending into tomorrow’s light.
The evidence is in her hands.
A Jewish girl—my mother—
in the year of her awakening.
Note: In the Lodz Ghetto, my mother worked in the documents office. When Rumkowski ordered the deportations of the old and young, my mother and the other workers falsified the ages of Ghetto residents in an effort to save lives.
Did you ever have a family?
Yes. And a table. Chairs. My brother slept
in a bed beside my bed.
Our voices were thick with singing
as we walked the rain-stained streets—
horse-stink, cabbages, the sky camouflaged
under chimney smoke from textile factories.
Home was everywhere in that place.
And we were the stories our parents told.
Did you ever have a family?
I did. It was winter.
We skated on the drugged frost of God’s breath
as if the world was a frozen lake
and we in our mittens and cloth coats
could not see the cold clouds
rising from our own mouths.
Did you ever have a family?
My father carried in his pocket,
my hand, our paces in step,
others walking toward us in black fedoras
and colored kerchiefs, a crunch
underfoot of dry leaves, snow,
apple blossoms, earth.
One was taken, then another.
The rooms of the houses shrank with loss.
Neighbors pulled shirts and socks, still damp,
in from the line. Children were kept indoors.
A woman was hauled by her hair
down a public street and no one called out.
They looked away. They said later they did not see—
in open daylight, at the news stand,
in front of the café—
Who is the trustee of the dead?
Headstones fallen over, cracked,
covered in lichen, moss, neglect.
No stones or bouquets left in remembrance.
No mourners or words of comfort.
Only the shipwrecked listen,
only the forgotten remember.
Come as you are, bare-handed, stumbling.
Come like wild geese migrating in winter.
Come in freight cars and in cargo ships. Landlocked. Alone.
Come lonely. Come with courage and pluck.
Come with luck. Come fleeing toward freedom.
With hope. Come broke. Broken.
Come with feather pillows in your arms. Weathered. Weary.
Come with memories, knots of longing,
scarred and sore, battered, bedraggled, bewildered.
Come with your language and your candlesticks.
Come as a testament with the honey of praise
and prayer in your mouth.
These poems are from Blood Memory, published in 2020 by Marsh Hawk Press, New York
Poet Gail Newman
A child of Polish Holocaust survivors, Gail Newman was born in a Displaced Persons’ Camp in Lansberg, Germany. Her family immigrated to the United States and settled in Los Angeles. Gail has worked as a poet-teacher for CalPoets, arts administration and museum educator at the Contemporary Jewish Museum. Gail’s poems have appeared in journals including Calyx, Canary, Nimrod International Journal, Prairie Schooner, and Spillway and in anthologies including The Doll Collection, Ghosts of the Holocaust, and America, We Call Your Name. Her poem “Mishpacha” was recently awarded first prize by Nikole Brown in the Bellingham Review 49th Parallel Poetry Contest. Gail was the co-founder and editor of Room, A Women’s Literary Journal. She has also edited two children’s poetry collections: C is for California and Dear Earth. A book of poetry, One World, was published by Moon Tide Press. A new collection, Blood Memory, was chosen by Marge Piercy for the Marsh Hawk Press 2020 Poetry Prize. Piercy wrote, “Writing about the Holocaust can be difficult now, not that it was ever easy…Those who know, who went through it, are dying off. Those who deny what happened multiply. To make fresh powerful poems rooted in Shoah is amazing.” And from Ellen Bass,”Newman doesn’t flinch from brutality, yet she has achieved something extraordinary. Blood Memory is a testament to humanity. Despite the darkness, the light of the living shines through.”
MEET TIME OF THE POET REPUBLIC PUBLISHER
Mbizo CHIRASHA, UNESCO-RILA Affiliate Artist. Freedom of Speech Fellow to PEN- Zentrum Deutschland,Germany. Alumni of the International Human Rights Arts Festival in New-York, USA. Literary Arts Activism Diplomatie. Globally Certified Arts Mediums Curator and Influencer. Internationally Published Page and Spoken Word Poet. Writer in Residence. Arts for Human Rights Catalyst. Core Team Member of the Bezine Arts and Humanities Project. His illustrious poetry, hybrid writings, political commentary, short fiction, book reviews and Arts Features are published in more than 400 spaces notably the Monk Arts and Soul in Magazine in United Kingdom. Atunis Poetry.com in Belgium. Demer press poetry series in Netherlands. World Poetry Almanac in Mongolia. Poesia journal in Slovenia. Bezine Arts and Humanities Webzine in USA. The Poet a Day in Brooklyn, USA. Litnet Writers Journal in South Africa. African Crayons in Nigeria. Poetry Bulawayo in Zimbabwe. Pulp-pit USA. The FictionalCafe international Journal, Texas USA. Best New African Poetry series in Zimbabwe, Zimbolicious Poetry Collections in Zimbabwe. Co-edited Street Voices International Publications with Andreas Weiland in Germany. Co-Edited Silent Voices Anthology, a Tribute to Chinua Achebe. Co-Edited the Corpses of Unity, solidarity collection to victimized Cameroonians with Nsah Mala. Curated and Edited the Zimbabwe We Want Poetry, Inside Digraceland speaking poetic truth to the Mugabe regime and other bad regimes. He owns the Time of the Poet blog zine, MIOMBOPUBLISHING that published the #GlobalCallforPeaceProject titled the Second of EARTH is Peace. A LETTER to the PRESIDENT his experimental resistance poetry colection was released in August 2019 by Mwanaka and Media Publishing. Co- Authored Whispering Woes of Ganges and Zambezi with Sweta Vikram in India. Good Morning President his first poetry collection was published in 2011 by Zimbabwean published based in United Kingdom, Diaspora Publishers.COVID 19 Satansdeadly fart is forthcoming. Chirasha is Founder and the Chief Editor of Brave Voices Poetry Journal, https://bravevoicespress.home.blog/ and WOMAWORDS LITERARY PRESS,https://womawordsliterarypress.home.blog/MORE INFORMATION visit, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mbizo_Chirasha
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