Wednesday, June 8, 2016

A Review by Leonard Kniffel

Leonard Kniffel is a writer and librarian and former publishing executive for the American Library Association in Chicago. He is creator and publisher of the “@ your library” public awareness website (, and he was editor-in-chief and publisher of American Libraries, the magazine of the American Library Association, from 1996 to 2011.

Recommended: New Collection by John Guzlowski

John Guzlowski
Coming at a time when the Syrian refugee crisis is bringing out the best and the worst in the nations to which these desperate people are fleeing, John Guzlowski’s Echoes of Tattered Tongues: Memory Unfolded is the culmination of some 40 years of writing by America’s foremost chronicler of the Second World War and its impact on the people of Poland, specifically his own parents. Born in a refugee camp in Germany, Guzlowski came to America in 1951 as a Displaced Person. His parents had been Polish slave laborers in Nazi Germany during the war and witnesses to horrors that would haunt them for the rest of their lives.
This moving volume of poetry and prose reveals with painful precision the agony of being a refugee during a time of war. One can only imagine the tears the author must have shed in transforming these horrifying memories into beautiful pieces of art, which is what all truly great writers are able to do. These stories are not easy to read, but the voices within them cry out to be heard, the voices that were so brutally silenced and for which Guzlowski now speaks. Here is an example:
A Life Story
She was born
in a concentration camp
in 1944. She was one pound
eight ounces. She was
a leaf of grass. She was lovely.
She was born dreaming
her mother’s dream
of flying like a robin
through the sky and eating
everything that was pure
and good and golden.

And then the women guards
smashed her into the wall
and wrapped her in newspaper
and threw her in the garbage
with the others.

Echoes of Tattered Tongues: Memory Unfolded is published by Aquila Polonica Publishing and is available for $21.95 wherever fine books are sold.

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