Primo Levi’s Hardest Thoughts on the Holocaust

From Primo Levi’s 1986 book, The Drowned and the Saved, remembering the concentration camps: On Levi’s own—and others’—guilt at having survived the concentration camps: At a distance of years one can today definitely affirm that the history of the Lagers [from Konzentrationslager, concentration camp] has been written almost exclusively by those who, like myself, never…

“One day the Gestapo hanged a child”: God on Trial at Auschwitz

The oldest book about religion on my shelves is Karen Armstrong’s A History of God. The note inside still says that I read it in the fall of 1996, just after I turned seventeen. I’m lucky that I found Armstrong’s book so early for many reasons, but mostly for the following story she tells, which…

Kafka’s Sisters & The Remains of Old Yeats (2 poems)

Kafka’s Sisters With thanks I was tubercular and dead by early summer nineteen twenty-four, long in the grave with my intensity before those three sisters rose to follow, Ellie and Ottla and Valli dragged through the cattle-car years down to forty-five. Ellie and Ottla and Valli I sing, deported to Poland, deported to Łódź or…

Review of Hymns & Lamentations

Check out the poet Tom Laichas’s review, here, of my 2011 book Hymns and Lamentations, a collection poems on the unsolvable religious problems of suffering and joy. It’s an immensely generous and thorough look at the book, probably the best it’s gotten so far. You can still order the book here.