After eight years of oftentimes grueling work, I am so happy to announce that my memoir, The Borderland Between Worlds, is forthcoming, in early 2020, from Auctus Publishers. Thank you, Krish Singh, for publishing writers underrepresented in publishing!
If someone isn’t rich,
find another with funds,
silver, diamonds, gold,
enough to see you through.
If he’s not cold enough,
with no head to fend off
the brutality of life,
then find a man who feels less
who does what he must, giving out
pink slips left and right. When she’s not
young enough, cut your ties, give a divorce
leave your first wife. Not skinny enough,
find someone thin, someone who fills the
metaphorical hole in your heart,
and who helps you fit in
for love’s never set in stone,
so go through as many as you need
till you find the one. Till you find
true love in the twenty-first.
In the battlefield of right and wrong,
matters not whose weak, whose strong.
Truth has its own strength,
tougher than ignominy, harder than steel.
Immutable rules govern our world such as the law that no matter the time or space in which it occurs, evil committed by humans against other human beings leaves its mark, and that regardless of the amount of time it takes, the truth will always surface. These ideas, as well as others, are explored in depth in Richard D. Bank’s I Am Terezin.
With meticulous historical research and great care, Bank has painted a vivid picture of the people and personalities associated with the events that took place at Theresienstadt during the Nazi Holocaust. I Am Terezin is a revolutionary memoir – unlike others, it is written from the point of view, not of a person but, of a physical entity, the camp itself – an omniscient narrator. The voice of the camp comes alive to relay the ominous reality of itself, and it tells the reader what Theresienstadt really was, a concentration camp and not the paradise ghetto for elderly Jews the Nazis claimed it was.
The changing tone and perspective of the omniscient voice is compelling. The voice of the camp takes on many roles – a caretaker in one moment, a silent observer in another. It can be argued that the voice of the camp is none other than that of a lamenting God, unable to intercede in the world of human atrocities and forced to watch insidious actions play out. No matter the tone or perspective, the abuse, injustice, and crime which occurred at Theresienstadt is resurrected for the reader, and the reader comes to learn intimately about the lives of innocents who were forced to be bound within the walls of Terezin. Each word and sentence of I Am Terezin is written with great care, paying homage to the many who lost their lives at Theresienstadt. In taking part in the arduous undertaking of researching and telling the story of those at Terezin, Bank has completed the ultimate labor of love in tribute to his grandparents, Ludwig and Sophie Frank, who were imprisoned at but subsequently survived Theresienstadt.
Bank is masterful in his knowledge of the history of Theresienstadt, and I Am Terezin is a must read for scholars of the Holocaust, as well as those interested in bettering the human condition. Reading this book will help the vigilant to reaffirm the oath of never again. Never again should sadism be allowed to hide behind laws and systems meant to dehumanize. Never again should humanity allow the atrocities of genocide to occur. Never again should any people be persecuted for the faith they follow or for the way in which they worship the Divine.
Saturday’s ritual is discourse at diners,
when we talk while walking
to our regular hangout, The Green Kitchen.
As we wipe our feet on the mat on the floor,
we exit the pressure cooker
as worries are left at the door.
The mornings here mean much more
than French Toast, eggs, or home fries.
Forgetting brimming calendars,
we find a space of solace
where it’s just you and me,
fresh silverware, an easy cup of coffee.
Now protected within parameters
of peace, the havoc halts.
Relaxed, we breathe, and talk, and laugh.
Look at night skies ascend
as the day comes too quickly to an end.
Young stars start to cross,
covering the field of narrowing night sky,
constellations congealing, shining yet pale,
as sleep takes the world away.
The earth quietly moves changing space,
never returning to that exact place
before the world wakes.
With succession like cyclones, the new day
will overwhelm the body, the heart, the brain,
taking away whatever life is left.
But hold the memory of the morning always
and don’t forget to feel it all:
the air against your face, the softness of the sun
at break of day, its rays translucent,
never harsh, never blaring, never burning,
life’s breath moving in and out,
sustaining you till the end.
Typically a reader of adult fiction and nonfiction, I didn’t think that a middle grade novel would interest me as much as Blackbird Fly did, yet I found myself quickly flipping through the pages to find out what would happen to the book’s protagonist, Apple Yengko.
Apple and her mother left the Philippines for the United States when Apple was four; the death of Apple’s father caused the family to immigrate to America. Now attending a middle school in Louisiana, Apple is ostracized because of her ethnic background. She feels that she doesn’t have anyone who understands or relates to her. Nevertheless, Apple still has hopes and dreams. She loves music and wants to learn guitar, so she can become a rock star.
Blackbird Fly is an inspiring read for both children and adults alike. Erin Kelly has created a convincing world in which children isolate each other for insignificant and arbitrary reasons. In this world, we witness, through Apple, the resilience of the human spirit. This book shows children, who may be left out or bullied, that it is vitally important to keep hope alive. On the other hand, adult readers, like me, will root for Apple and in so doing give some closure to their own childhood trauma.
Blackbird Fly is published by Greenwillow Books and is available here: http://amzn.to/1YuVyot