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Fred Davis, MD
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Suite Polonaise - Poems from Auschwitz, Volume 1

Poetry after Auschwitz is a barbarism.
 - Theodor Adorno


Suite Polonaise: Poems from Auschwitz

Only an aching heart conceives a changeless work of art.
 - W.B. Yeats

The 1,215 poems entitled Suite Polonaise were  written following my visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau in July, 1992.  For three days after my return to Paris, where I had spent the summer, I was extremely distraught.  Each day was worse than the last, and I feared for my sanity.  Then, near midnight on the third day I was able to write a poem, and experienced a small relief.

Another came the next day, then another the following.  This went on for three full years.  I became surfeited, and spent a year working on revisions.  Then the energy returned, and the one-a-day regimen, and I worked until more than 1,200 were done.  I continued, almost constantly, to revise and rewrite until the summer of 2009.  It became clear that I could go on until I could write no more, and the work would still be incomplete, unsatisfactory - and an enormous, unwieldy mountain of poems.  So I have published that mountain.

Adorno was right of course. 

What happened at Auschwitz and other like hell-on-earth places, the radical evil, can never be adequately captured in words and by poetry, lyric poetry at that. Yet one must try.  The enormous amount of writing that has come from this experience is a testimony to that.  And Yeats is right, hearts shall ache for generations; there is something changeless here, and in the strangest of ways, a kind of art – grotesque, certainly, but transcendent – as the deepest suffering shall always express.

Copies available at Third Place Books
Ravenna: 206-525-2347
Lake Forest Park: 206-366-3333

  Suite Polonaise - Poems from Auschwitz, Volume 2 Suite Polonaise - Poems from Auschwitz, Volume 3