Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Two Public Poetry Readings in Chicago

Chicago Readings:  I'm doing two free public poetry readings in Chicago this week.  

On Thursday, March 1, between 1 and 3pm,  I'm reading at Loyola University with 3 other Polish American poets (Ewa Chrusciel, Karen Kovacik, and John Minczeski).  This session will take place at the McCormick Lounge in the Coffey Hall (1000 W. Sheridan Road).  

On Friday, March 2, noon to 1pm, I'll be reading alone at the UIC library in the Richard J. Daley room.  In both readings I'll be talking about my parents and their experiences in the slave labor camps in Germany. 

Here's one of the poems I'll be reading:

What the War Taught My Mother

My mother learned that sex is bad,
Men are worthless, it is always cold
And there is never enough to eat.

She learned that if you are stupid
With your hands you will not survive
The winter even if you survive the fall.

She learned that only the young survive
The camps.  The old are left in piles
Like worthless paper, and babies
Are scarce like chickens and bread.

She learned that the world is a broken place
Where no birds sing, and even angels
Cannot bear the sorrows God gives them.

She learned that you don't pray
Your enemies will not torment you. 
You only pray that they will not kill you.

1 comment:

John Guzlowski said...

I received the following comment and poem from poet Oriana Ivy:

I'm still suffering because of the Catholic indoctrination, and just today I was writing to a friend about how ineradicable it is, that terror of hell instilled in me when I was a proverbial innocent (I was made to believe I was a terrible sinner) and helpless child, before I could think for myself.

But to buckle down and to through the motions just because of terror of hell -- I couldn't respect myself for such cowardice. My mother always repeated: "Don't kneel down to the enemy." The Catholic church isn't the only enemy, but it is nevertheless a significant enemy, to my emotional health in particular.

Now the church has tried to redefine heaven and hell, but for me it's too little, too late. The emotional abuse has taken its toll. So for me it wasn't just that bad things happened to me in the past; on top of that actual badness, there was also the emotional knowledge (in spite of reason) that I was selected for eternal damnation. Everything bad that happened only confirmed that.

But for those people for whom faith has been a positive experience, well and fine. I'm glad it worked the other way for them. Would I have lunch with someone who evangelizes? No, I've had enough for the rest of my life.

Above all, we must not kneel to anyone who preaches blind obedience. The church is a more totalitarian institution than any other because it's anti-reason and wants to enslave the mind more than any other agency I ever encountered. That may not be true on the global scale -- Islam I assume is worse -- but in my personal experience, it's been Catholicism that damaged me most, and communism very little, if at all.

Here is one little cry against the horrors they taught us to believe in:


They took away my name
that was the real punishment
not the thick grains of salt
that sealed my lips and eyes
but black letters that caw
Lot’s wife

My name died with those
not elected for mercy
my name that soft wind
a twig brushing the wrist

We rain in a rain of fire
boulders shuddered and split
in a drumroll of thunder
hiss of the burned river
a cry of bones

wind blew the glowing ashes
only I obeyed
the human
commandment only I
turned around and saw

the keepers of the story
took away my name
so I’d be nobody a woman
who once turned around
instead of safely
staring at her husband’s back

I stand as I was written
blind but having seen

only I obeyed
only I
only I
whose name you do not know

Oriana blogs at (http://oriana-poetry.blogspot.com/2011/10/angel-of-greater-love.html)