Slicing the Bread, Children’s Survival Manual in 25 Poems by Maja Trochimczyk will be published by Finishing Line Press on October 25, 2014. This third poetry book by Maja Trochimczyk can be ordered now and will be printed and shipped in October. The limited edition’s pre-publication sales will determine the press run, so please reserve your copy now. The books cost $14 each plus $2.99 for shipping for the first book in a package and $1.99 for each additional book. You can order your copy of Slicing the Bread on Finishing Line Press website at www.finishinglinepress.com.
Cobblestones in the Old Town, Warsaw, rebuilt after the war.
This unique poetry collection revisits the dark days of World War II and the post-war occupation of Poland by the Soviet Union that “liberated” the country from one foreign oppression to replace it with another. The point of view is that of children, raised by survivors, scarred by war, wary of politics. Children experienced the hunger and cold, witnessed the killings, saw the darkening blood spilled on the snow and hands stretching from locked boxcar windows. Some heard the voices of murdered Jews like “bees in the breeze,” others learned never to throw any food away, because “war is hunger.” The poems, each inspired by a single object giving rise to memories like Proust’s madeleine (a spoon, a coat, the smell of incense) are divided into three sections, starting with snapshots of World War II in the Polish Borderlands (Kresy) and central Poland. Reflections on the Germans’ brutal killing Jews and Poles are followed by insights into the way the long shadow of THE war darkened a childhood spent behind the Iron Curtain.
Historical cobblestone and tram tracks on Chlodna Street, Warsaw.
For poet Georgia Jones Davis, this book, “brings the experience of war into shocking, immediate focus” through Trochimczyk’s use of “her weapon: Language at its most precise and lyrical, understated and piercingly visual.” According to Pulitzer-Prize nominated poet John Guzlowski, Maja’s “poems about what the Poles suffered both during World War II and The Cold War afterwards are written with the clarity of truth and the fullness of poetry… Here are the stories of how the people she loved experienced hunger and suffering and terror so strong that it defined them and taught her, and teach us, the meaning of family.” The Tieferet Prize winner and Poets-Café host Lois P. Jones points out that “Maja brings the Warsaw of her youth and that of her ancestors into vivid and heartbreaking detail. These are words that will move you to appreciate the simple privileges and necessities of life. Slicing the Bread is a feast in our universal and ever present famine.” As Jones wisely observes “It is the duty of the poet to convey story, but it is the art of the poet who can transform our often cruel and brutal history and affect forever, the way we look and listen to the world.”
"Place sanctified with the blood of Poles who died for the freedom of their homeland" - marker of a 1944 massacre in the district of Wola.
Maja Trochimczyk observes in the preface, “This set of 25 non-fiction poems is a testimonial and a monument to untold suffering, witnessed and experienced by non-Jewish Poles during the war, from the hands of Germans and Soviets, and after the war, from the oppressive “socialist” regime… If six million Jews and three million non-Jewish Poles were killed by Germans in Poland, don’t they each deserve at least one poem, one story? If I were born in Warsaw, a city that lost 700,000 of its inhabitants, shouldn’t I at least try to remember some of them?”
Marker of the Ghetto Wall, 1940-1943 on Chlodna St. in Warsaw.
ABOUT "SLICING THE BREAD"
~ Lois P. Jones, Poetry Editor Kyoto Journal, Host of Pacifica Radio's "Poets Cafe," winner of the 2012 Tiferet Prize for Poetry
Marker of the Ghetto Wall (1940-1943) in Park Krasinskich, Warsaw.
Maja Trochimczyk’s poems about what the Poles suffered both during World War II and The Cold War afterwards are written with the clarity of truth and the fullness of poetry. If you feel that you have heard all there is to hear about those troubled times, you will learn in this book that you haven’t. Her poetic mixing of family narrative and the memories of other survivors feels like the essential stories our own parents told us when they wanted us to know that there were experiences that we must never forget. Here are the stories of how the people she loved experienced hunger and suffering and terror so strong that it defined them and taught her, and teach us, the meaning of family.
~ Dr. John Z. Guzlowski, Professor Emeritus, Eastern Illinois University, Pulitzer-Prize-nominated author of Lightning and Ashes about his parents’ experiences in Nazi Germany
"Place sanctified with the blood of Poles who died for the freedom of homeland" - marker of a massacre of August 5, 1944 at the wall of the Orthodox Cemetery, Wolska St.
There are poems that we have to write: Poems of witness that grow out of the fading signals of our histories -- out of the "screams" lost in a "hum of bees"; the stories carried in the everyday weather circling this distressed planet. Maja Trochimczyk's new collection of poems, "Slicing the Bread," brings the experience of war into shocking, immediate focus. Her weapon: Language at its most precise and lyrical, understated and piercingly visual. In stanzas as delicate as a Chopin prelude, we inhabit the terrifying darkness of the world brought to its bloody knees.
"War is hunger," a mother tells her daughter. She boiled honey and tea with weeds and that was lunch for twenty. She never wants to forget its taste. War is springtime with its soft rain, singing birds, shoots of green and nothing to eat. War is hiding a squealing pink piglet in a hole; suddenly seeing an unknown aunt with oddly crooked legs who appears out of nowhere. "Slicing the Bread" will keep us listening to the crackling voices of an urgent past that --without the poetry such as this is of Maja Trochimczyk" -- could be fast growing silent.
~ Georgia Jones-Davis (Blue Poodle, Finishing Line Press)
Candles in the Church on Plac Grzybowski, Warszawa
Maja Trochimczyk’s poems draw you into a bestial, almost inconceivable history. Using objects –bread, potatoes, trapdoors, high heels–she guides you through an experience with the madness of World War II and its aftermath when a dictator is judged worse or better by how many fewer millions he has slaughtered. This book needed to be written. Trochimczyk doesn’t lecture; you are riveted by the power of her poems; their narratives flow from her hands as if a Babcia were still guiding them. And maybe she was. You will remember the taste of this book.
~ Sharon Chmielarz (author of Love from the Yellowstone Trail)
Bread with a miniature of the Polish Order of Polonia Restituta (one of the highest
distinctions in Poland, established in 1921), a flea market find by Maja Trochimczyk.
Unwavering in its honesty, Slicing the Bread is a thought-provoking look at a brutal chapter in history: the German Nazi occupation of Poland during World War II. Trochimczyk gives a public face to this history but also reveals the private heart of a family that endures despite horrific loss. With simple language and stark imagery, these poems create a powerful testimony and bear witness to the hate that destroys, to the truth that restores, and to the poetic vision that honors our common humanity.
~ Linda Nemec Foster (author of Amber Necklace from Gdansk, LSU Press;
winner of the Creative Arts Award from the Polish American Historical Association)