Review of Amber Necklace from Gdansk in online review journal, North of Oxford

Reviewed by: Diane Sahms-Guarnieri

Linda Nemec Foster reiterates this real and imagined theme of yearning and self-discovery throughout the four sections of Amber Necklace from Gdańsk.
In poem after poem of sculptured landscapes of Old World and New, of Poland (before WW I) to USA of today, Linda Nemec Foster yearns for wholeness, yet knows that this severance of self the “she” (“the other self”) from the Old World will be never be found “in the New,” as in the appropriately titled poem, “Doppelgänger” she writes:
…A mere roll of the dice that I’m here
and she somewhere else
…because a simple act of birth that place me
in suburbs south of Cleveland and
not in a town across the river from Oświęcim
The last line of the poem puts the reader at a screeching, yet realistic halt:
…may we never recognize each other on street.
Is this an acceptance of harsh reality, of being born in Cleveland, Ohio “on the opposite side of the world” to first generation parents (whose grandparents left Poland) and the realism that she will never be able to experience or have lived the life of “the other self.” I believe the last line of the poem is realistic; however, within every artist/poet there is imagination; there is the “what if” question; there is the wishful desire to have that which you know you can never really have. As if, perchance, there could have been a meeting of the “other self,” that is if Fate could have allowed her to live a different life (she never knew), a life she could never truly know. Yet, the fact is she was destined to live here in Ohio, in the New. It is this longing that exists – to have known a different life, to have been given an opportunity to be a different self “other self” in this opening poem that stays with the reader especially because of the powerfully ironic last line
…may we never recognize each other on street.
Can one re-unite the two? No, never, and if we could then would we be better off not knowing what life would have been like anyway. A bit paradoxical? Absolutely! The “longing” to be someone we could never be, yet at the same time thinking we should have at least had a “chance” at it. A choice, perhaps This is the unknown, the not knowing (that can never truly be satisfied); and that which a second generation girl/woman ponders, especially when one is blessed/cursed with a creativity poetic mind. A mind that questions.
This is a book of interconnected narrative poems with an undertow of longing for a life we can never have. Therefore, the second poem, “Doppelgänger,” has set the stage for the remainder of the poems in this collection. The fact is she was born here, but her love is reflected in poems about a family she knew and a family she will never really know.
The poems roll into and out of each other with a constant pulling undertow of longing, which is never understated in her poems about people and places. Each poem beautifully written, beautifully sad, hurts the reader deeply, because there’s a void which cannot be filled. Especially evident in the poem,
“The Immigrant’s Dream” where each of the three stanzas begin with “a recurrent dream” and ends with a woman’s voice whispering two very strong final words: “You’re home.”
This wise archetypal dream woman trying to offer closure tells the immigrant “you’re home” to give the disconnected speaker peace, resolution. Yet, there really is no peace, no closure for three generations of women, who must live without a sense of true peace; and it’s not just the woman speaker, who is displayed but it is her grandparents, parents, and her own son that carries the burden of loss.
This sense of loss, in more detail, is also relevant in the poem, “Young Boy in a Tenement House, Holding the Moon.”
He is anonymous as a fairy tale.
His bare feet could be my father’s
or perhaps my son’s…
the speaker’s father and / or son’s feet, and as the poem continues it includes the boy’s mother –
his mother five flights up
keeping six kids at bay, waiting
for that basin of water…
So it is at this turning point of generational weariness that a child sent for water for an awaiting mother and a large family of siblings that the poet allows the boy to express his inner feelings. The boy in this poem uses his imagination to cope with the un-copeable and this is where Nemic Foster has the young boy’s basin become the moon. The reader knows a round basin resembles a full moon, but what is so poetically crafted here is that the boy
…smiles/ not for the camera, but to himself, as if he’s holding a captured moon
Here the “moon,” may appear subtle, but to Nemec Foster it not subtle at all, rather the skilled use and choice of the word “captured.” It is not used as a verb here, rather an adjective, and not a “capturing” moon,” but a “captured moon,” as if the child and his entire family residing in a tenement were in a “captured” state of existence, as new comers to a foreign land (America in lieu of Poland). The moon is metaphorically alone in the darkness and “captured” (involuntarily) in a gravitational orbit. Poland is now dead to him as the moon, as the “captured moon.” Captured defined is “to take into one’s possession or control by force.” Now, pushing the envelope further, the boy whispers to the moon,
and whispering to it, his breath
lost in its silver and dust:
księżyc, księżyc, latać, latać, daleko.
And before the translation, the poem is interrupted by an foreign language (Polish), not English, because the boy and his siblings, mother, and possibly his extended family (grandparents, great-grandparents) are all displaced in America, not only by their residence in a tenement house, but by language itself. Now, the last two translated lines in English, as the last to lines of this poem:
Moon, moon, fly away, fly away,
and please, take me with you.
Here, the child’s plea, “please take me with you” to my real home, because the moon can see all, Poland and America, and the child is homesick for something he cannot have.
The aforementioned poems are in the very beginning of Section I – Conjuring Up the Landscape and in continuing in that section Nemec Foster writes poems about her father learning to count in English; immigrant child at school; “The Old Neighborhood”; her mother, “The Silent One,” etc. and ends the section with the poem, “Sitting in America at the End of the Century” with these last very painful lines (both in Polish and English) addressing her grandparents (Maria and Tomasz, Zofia and Franciszek)in the poem’s last stanza:
… A distant granddaughter surrounded by cars,
longing for a language that’s more akin to damp
earth than linguistics, stuttering in a tongue
so natural to them they know what she’s trying
to say, even before the halting words
leave her lips. Bardzo mi przykro,
nie wiem. I am sorry, I know nothing.
A real page turner, so captivating that you, the reader, become engrossed with each poem, as I have; but you must continue onward with a reverent, dirge-like pace through the remaining three sections, as they will hypnotize you as well. She is allowing their voices and her voice to be heard, so you can learn of the honesty, integrity, and beauty of each lived life. These narrative-memoir poems tell the familial immigrant stories of her grandparents and parents and also Nemec Foster’s very own second-generation story of, mentally and physically, crossing the Atlantic from America to Poland and then back to America again.
Since I have elaborated in Section I, I will try to consolidate the remaining three sections, and this is not to diminish those sections, no, not at all, but in order not to make this – a too long review.
Section II – The Rivers of Past and Present; Section III- Dark Amber of Regret; & Section IV – To Smile at the Closed Mouth of Loss will keep the reader totally engaged. I will pick one poem from each section to focus upon, as briefly as I can, in order to do justice to both poet and poem.
Section II– The Rivers of Past and Present has four prose poems, with the exception of the poem, “The Two Rivers in My Story.” Once again these poems do not spare the reader their emotional empowerment, with an intense flow of prosaic images, narratives, and truths felt by a transplanted poet. America’s Cuyahoga River aligns, yet conversely misaligns with Poland’s Vistula River – just as the past aligns, yet conversely misaligns to the present, at least in Nemec Foster’s telling of rivers and time in her prosaic poem, “The Women with the Two Rivers Growing from Her Hair” (wonderful title). Here, Nemec Foster recounts a “true” story told to her by her mother about her grandmother, Maria.
…I know it’s true because my mother told me that her mother saw it with her own two eyes.
Interestingly enough, oral history imagined or true is prevalent among immigrant families and serves as a connective thread often linking one generation to the next, especially in this story of women.
Maria, my mother’s mother with green eyes who died long ago, whom I never knew, but could only imagine.
Without giving the total story away here are some lines of her grandmother’s story told by Nemec Foster’s mother to her, whereby the flow of the women of her family and the flow of rivers align and misalign with each other.
One day she decided to leave her mother, her father, all her sisters and brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends and come to the New World and live in America.
Her grandmother settled in Ohio in a boarding house near the Cuyahoga River and it took her weeks to pronounce the river’s name.
She especially loved the sound of the city’s river, Cuyahoga, even though it took her many weeks before she could even begin to pronounce it. …As if trying to will the river into her tiny bedroom on the third floor of Mrs. Okasinski’s boarding house.
The grandmother’s dream of the Vistula River in Poland, where she turns into a mermaid. A straight up metaphor, why, because oral tradition and the imagination usually go hand-in-hand.
She was a mermaid swimming in the deep, clear waters of her homeland, the Vistula River. Her legs had turned into one huge fin, her beautiful hair had become filmy seaweed. Even her green eyes had turned into the blue-white of mother-of-pearl.
Nemec Foster hits the comparisons hard: Old World – Poland vs. New World – America; Vistula River vs. Cuyahoga River; the Past vs. the Present; and then with her brilliant choice of poetic language, the Simile
– “like” for comparative purposes.
The Vistula flowed around her like scattered diamonds. For the first time since leaving Poland, she felt homesick. In the morning when she awoke, the rain was still falling, like drops of a river from the sky.
In finishing this comparative poem, there’s unification and /or a blending of the two separate entities into the one identity, separate but united in the poem’s summation:
Her long, golden hair had explicably transformed into the two rivers she loved so much: blue Vistula of the fish-maid; green Cuyahoga of the exotic song. They flowed from her head like twin cascades of the past and present, the old and the new.
And finally Nemec Foster’s heart wrenching metaphors provide hidden similarities between her grandmother and / or immigrant women and their descendants, directly and poetically equating them to river/water images:
Some say the woman disappeared into the rivers that claimed her. Some say she walked into the rain and became the rain. And some refuse to believe that a woman’s hair can change into the waters of two rivers by mere act of a strange dream. But then, they don’t know the woman.
Section III- Dark Amber of Regret succeeds II, but not with prosaic poems, rather 13 shorter poems. These poems – move the reader along the high wire of regret and longing, looking at each side Old – New, Poland – America, as if the speaker, a high wire walker were treading very carefully in a world where a fine wire-thin-line exists; and they must forever walk the path of an “examined” life with no real resolution, one always existing alongside the other. This disconnection between two world’s trying to connect is stated in the first lines of the poem “Moje Rozwiane Włosy” where the East is separated from the West:
Beyond any control of the East /West border,
Oder/Neisse line, the arbitrary demarcations
of free market and fixed economy, my hair
Here the speaker, I, uses the image of her “hair” to connect her.
At the beginning of the poem:
…my hair
my hair has become wild, electric halo that refuses…
and at the end of this poem:
…My hair, my wild hair,
wanting to be a braided rope that connects the two.
The hair image of the “I” speaker resonates back to the grandmother, Maria, and her “long, golden” braided hair (Section II, above). The speaker (probably Nemec Foster, herself) using a very womanly image of her hair is trying to connect the disconnect. Actually the braiding of three long individual strands (daughter, mother, grandmother) into one braid connects the three women together in their two distinct worlds.
I would be remiss not to state that Section III’s poems are extremely musical as a whole. Many stanzas like verses of songs binding many voices together, as if each poem the voice of an instrument, a symphony playing melodiously together. Lovely musical titles too, and poems enriched with naturalistic settings containing names and colors of flowers and trees, such as “Mazovian Willows – Chopin’s Nocturne, Opus 9” (Chopin exiled from Poland); “Song of Sorrow – On Listening to Gorecki’s Third Symphony “ (written as a rhythmic Villanelle); “After the War: Purple Flowers Spilling from the Window;” etcetera. There is one very daunting poem, “Chapel of Skulls – Czermna, Poland” that does not fit the uplifting musical category of many of the others in this section. It is realistically and humanistically devastating, more funereal. I believe this poem a silent reminder to Nemec Foster that despite her families disconnect from Poland, there would be nothing more terrible then for her family to have been in Poland during WW I and WW II. Not just our own deaths, as the poem reminds us in America and Europe, but the reminder of the
…mass graves at Katyn
or the empty crematorium at Auschwitz
can prepare you for this.
Nothing can ever really prepare you for “this” meaning death.
Further, the last poem of Section III is the book’s title – “Amber Necklace from Gdańsk” and this poem echoes back to the braided hair, but this time three
strands of the past braided around my neck.
White amber of memory, gold amber of song, dark amber of regret.
So, three colors of amber as memory, song, and regret are braided appropriately, as title of this book of poems.
Section IV – This last section moves through character and place poems, but the reader is struck by the last three lines of the last poem, “Dancing with my sister.” Here the poet not only echoes back to this Section’s title – To Smile at the Closed Mouth of Loss –but concludes the book appropriately as follows:
We glow because we came from the same burnt-out dream
of second-generation immigrants and learned to smile
at the closed mouth of loss and dance, dance, dance.
Linda Nemec Foster and her sister have truly learned to smile despite loss and the reader gallops along with Linda and her sister “to the Beer Barrel Polka” with “RESPECT” for the glowing women they have become in America. In the second-generation immigrants’ fight for recognition, Linda Nemec Foster has won the braided Amber Necklace from Gdańsk glowing with three “tears (tiers) of the sun” around her neck.

Originally published by North Of Oxford

Linda Nemec Foster- Despite Everything You’re Heard About the Motor City, Detroit’s Poetry Community Flourishes

Linda Nemec Foster blogs about the P&W supported event at UDetroit Cafe. Author of nine collections of poetry, including Talking Diamonds (finalist for ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year) and Amber Necklace from Gdansk (finalist for the Ohio Book Award). Linda Nemec Foster’s work has been published in the Georgia Review, Nimrod, North American Review, and New American Writing. Cry of Freedom, her collaboration with musician Laszlo Slomovits, inspired by the poems in her chapbook, Ten Songs from Bulgaria, was released as a CD in 2013. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and the founder of the Contemporary Writers Series at Aquinas College.

The same day that the public announcement of Detroit’s bankruptcy was blasted around the world, I was invited to write this blog. Pretty ironic, eh? Not if you know anything about the D’s thriving and dynamic poetry scene. I currently live in west Michigan (Grand Rapids, to be exact), but I lived in Detroit for ten pivotal years in the ’70’s and ’80’s. Those were the years when I started writing poetry and began working on my degree in the country’s first low-residency MFA Program at Goddard College (this program that Ellen Bryant Voigt founded has subsequently moved to Warren Wilson College). There is another reason why the city has played a special role in my life–my first child, Brian, was born there in 1979.

Because of my personal connection to the D, I have maintained close relationships with a number of Detroit’s poets and writers. Through those connections, I have been invited to give readings, workshops, and conference presentations several times a year. Many of those events have been sponsored by Poets & Writers including my appearance on August 15, 2012, at the UDetroit Cafe. That was one very special night.

The venue was packed, the crowd was enthusiastic, and the host–Detroit poetry impresario M. L. Liebler–was a great M.C. His introductions were lively and so were the readers and performers. Besides your humble blogger, the program included the music of the RJ Spangler Trio with Larry Smith, performance poet Wardell Montgomery Jr., Detroit musician Keith Gamble, and poet Mary Jo Firth Gillett. Reading with Mary Jo was particularly wonderful: She’s a fine poet and a former student (she participated in a master level poetry workshop I taught at the Detroit Institute of Arts in 1999). Everyone who took the stage was in terrific form. I read five poems including a long piece on my favorite movie star of all time, Barbara Stanwyck. It brought down the house. Who knew that I had a bit of the performance poet in me?

It certainly was a grand evening. Besides, there was someone in the audience that made it even more of a memorable event. Brian (yes, my son who was born in the D) was able to come to the reading and be part of that enthusiastic crowd. Unbeknown to both of us, there was an artist sitting nearby who drew a pen and ink sketch of us while we were talking before the readings: mother and son with the Detroit skyline in the background. He gave us the drawing gratis–”a gift from the D.”

Poets & Writers, with its Readings/Workshops Program, is the epitome of The Gift. The impact of its support that has benefited communities throughout the country is immeasurable. And for a community like Detroit–with everything it’s been through–the Program is a significant affirmation of the vibrant voices of poets and writers that care deeply about their city.

Originally Published by Poets & Writers, click here to view article.

Review of Linda Nemec Foster’s Talking Diamonds

Talking Diamonds
Linda Nemec Foster
New Issues, 2009
Review by Jeanne Lesinski

Featuring a sprouting amaryllis bulb, a handful of seashells, and a holy card of  the Virgin and Child—all bathed in red—the cover of Talking Diamonds sets the tone for the many somber poems in this, Foster’s ninth collection. Other books by Foster, who was named the first poet laureate of Grand Rapids in 2003, include Amber Necklace from Gdansk and Ten Songs from Bulgaria.

The emotional intensity of the first 20 pages of Talking Diamonds propels the reader relentlessly forward, through poems of parental loss (“Sleeping in a Room Filled with the Past” and “I Enter My Mother’s Dementia”) and parental anxiety, then downward with the falling rain and disintegrating towers to the “Total Eclipse.” I admit to finding myself in circumstances eerily similar to those portrayed in some of these poems, but that is not the only reason they haunt me like the bassoon solo in Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. Foster crafts her poems well, juxtaposing  images to great effect in “Sleeping in a Room” in which a collection of shells meshes with the physical and mental souvenirs that represent “the past lives you’ve survived and left behind.”  She does the same with voices in “I Enter My Mother’s Dementia.” By alternating between the protagonist’s thoughts and artifacts of the mother’s past life and painful evidences of a diminished present, she draws the reader into the midst of this experience. Each poem grows steadily heavier as it progresses, ending in a manner very true to life.

In a handful of poems Foster explores spirituality, sometimes humorously as in “A Sign from God” or “The Tao of Junk Mail,” but at other times downplaying the dramatic for the quotidian, as in “The Third Secret of Fatima.”  The numinous appears unexpectedly for the protagonist of “Vision,” sunbathing on a Hawaiian beach. It takes the form of a man bearing a tattoo of the Virgin and Child, like a holy card, on his front and back. Suddenly, the incongruousness of this vision overwhelms the protagonist:

And you tell yourself this isn’t a miracle,

only a tattoo; this isn’t anything

extraordinary, only your life,

the crowded beach, the husband and son

waving impatiently for you to just

come on, come on, dive in.

And yet. And yet, the emotional truth rings out in this as in other poems in the collection. Where else should the miraculous happen but in everyday lives, in moments when humans are graced with the extraordinary through enhanced perception. Foster seems to invite readers  “come on, come on, dive in,” into Talking Diamonds and into life.

Originally Published by 360 Main Street, click here to view article.

Michigan Writers Series – Audio Interview and Reading at MSU


Interview with Michael Rodriguez

Program Introduction by Peter Berg

Readings Part 1

Readings Part 2

Audience Questions



Foster received her B.A. from Aquinas College and her M.F.A. in creative writing from Goddard College in Vermont. She has taught poetry workshops throughout Michigan and is the author of six collections of poetry, including: A History of the BodyA Modern Fairy Tale: The Baba Yaga PoemsTrying to Balance the HeartContemplating the Heavens, and Living in the Fire Nest (a finalist for the Poet’s Prize sponsored by the Roerich Museum in NYC). Her poems have appeared in more than 250 journals and magazines in the U.S. and Europe such as The Georgia ReviewNimrod, and International Poetry Review.

Foster’s newest book of poems, Amber Necklace From Gdansk, was published in 2001 by the Louisiana State University Press and has been nominated for a number of major books awards, including the Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, Paterson Poetry Prize, and the Phi Beta Kappa Poetry Award. In 2003, it was selected as a finalist for the Ohio Book Award in Poetry. Foster currently lives in Grand Rapids and in 2003 she was selected to be that city’s first poet laureate.

“Place and people, language, history, habitat and blood: the free range of Linda Nemec Foster’s richly textured witness is a gift – these poems, jewels.” – Thomas Lynch on Amber Necklace From Gdansk


Originally Published by Michigan State University Libraries, click here to view article.

Linda Nemec Foster on Verse Daily

Linda Nemec Foster received her M.F.A. in creative writing from Goddard College in Vermont. She is the author of eight collections of poetry including Living in the Fire Nest, Amber Necklace from Gdansk, and Listen to the Landscape. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals including The Georgia Review, Nimrod, Quarterly West, New American Writing, and North American Review. Foster’s work has also been translated and published in Europe, exhibited in art galleries, and produced for the stage. She has won awards from the Michigan Council for the Arts, ArtServe Michigan, the Arts Foundation of Michigan, the National Writer’s Voice, and the Academy of American Poets. From 2003-05 she was selected to serve as the first poet laureate of Grand Rapids, Michigan.Other poems by Linda Nemec Foster in Verse Daily:
September 15, 2003: “After the War: Purple Flowers Spilling from the Windows” “In Poland, the land takes over everything…”

About Talking Diamonds:

“In ‘Vision,’ one of many arresting poems in Talking Diamonds, Linda Nemec Foster’s protagonist sees Our Lady of Guadalupe in an unlikely Hawaiian setting. Half-waking from reverie, “she recognizes that the Virgin is in fact tattooed, front and back, on a native man: `And you tell yourself this isn’t a miracle,’ she writes, `only a tattoo; this isn’t anything/extraordinary, only your life …’ But that is precisely what makes her new collection so compelling: from what Wordsworth called the simple produce of the common day-a child’s piano recital, a family photograph, a wretched piece of motel art-Foster exacts an energy that is, precisely, visionary, even miraculous. This is an effort so widespread in contemporary poetry as itself to seem a commonplace, and one that generally fails. Not so in Talking Diamonds, which challenges, intrigues, awes, and ultimately gratifies, poem after excellent poem.”
—Sydney Lea

“A humanist at heart, Linda Nemec Foster has demanded from her poetry an artfulness that engages ordinary life. With each new book her work has continued to mature, deepen, console, surprise, and Talking Diamonds is as wise as it is lovely.”
—Stuart Dybek

“In this luminous new book of poems, Linda Nemec Foster shows us that there are no `ordinary’ lives, that each life is meaningful ansl even magical, whether we know itor not.-The brilliance and power of Foster’s language, which has been evident in earlier volumes, is even stronger in this book.”
—Lisel Mueller

Originally Published by Verse Daily, click here to view article.

LSU Press: Amber Necklace from Gdansk

Winner of the Polish American Historical Association Creative Arts Award

Inspired by her Polish American heritage and her first visit to her family’s homeland in 1996, Linda Nemec Foster’s stunning new collection poignantly reflects on the immigrant experience — an experience of loss and discovery, of ambivalence and pride, of deep tragedy and redemption. Foster’s own ethnicity as the daughter of second-generation immigrants from Poland is colored by America’s somewhat disinterested view of the “other” Europe — only recently emerged from history’s dark shadow — and of a country that for a hundred years did not exist as a political entity. In the book’s opening poem, “The Awkward Young Girl Approaching You,” she struggles with this sense of ethnic identity: “Who will speak for the dispossessed, / those who come from nowhere, / whose birthplace cannot be found / on any map . . . ?” Foster’s attempts to reclaim an ethnic heritage, to search for herself in the mirror of her family’s history, resonate throughout her verse.

Amber Necklace from Gdansk moves from lyric childhood memories and descriptions of immigrant life to prose poems that interweave the mythic and historic past with the present. Imaginative, powerful, surprising, and magical, Foster’s lines breathe life into the land, history, and culture of her ancestors. Who will speak for the dispossessed? These poems will.

Originally Published by LSU Press, click here to view article.

Memories from the Jewish Holocaust Based on two poems by LINDA NEMEC FOSTER (Michigan Poet)

students should be able to:

describe one of the poet’s perspective about the Jewish Holocaust
distinguish the sources of knowledge the poet uses for her version of the Holocaust
compare and or contrast the poet’s version of the Holocaust with that of another writer
identify a contemporary problem that has its origins in WWII or the Holocaust
(since this would work best with student research, you might wish to ask the students to inquire from their parents, one or two days prior to the lesson, about the origins of their first and last names.)

Activity 1
Tell students that this unit will cover two or more lessons and will involve them in finding out more information, doing library research, on some aspects of the Jewish holocaust that interest them and are relevant to the topic. Tell them that the main idea of the topic is to expose the students to the various perspectives present in the writing of history. Thus this unit will use on-line literature (poetry) to explore personal experience in historical events.

Activity 2
Tell the students that the poet they are going to listen to uses narrative and story-telling in her poetry, and one example of this is the history of her maiden name, Nemec. Before they listen to the poetry, they will play a name game in groups of three.

Activity 3
In groups of three (or four), tell the students to share their findings with each other on the origins of their first and last names. One person in the group will be responsible for presenting the information to the class, and the class will grade the presentation on agreed criteria. (You can establish your own criteria with input from the students, or see lesson plan on Jim Daniels for suggestions). Let students work in groups for 3-5 minutes, then present their discussions

Activity 4
Tell the students that they are now going to listen to the poetry reading.

Tell them that they will do research on Joseph Mengele; the non-aggression pact in 1939; Stalin; Hitler; Auschwitz, and other things they find interesting mentioned in the poem. They should therefore pay specifics attention to the words, terms and stories used by the poet.

Activity 5
Have a whole class discussion on the stories they could gather from the poet. What is the story behind her name Nemec? What does she mean by the question: “Who can argue with the dead?”

Poem 1. “After the War Purple flowers spilling from the windows”
Poem 2. “Mengele’s Butterflies”

Activity 6
Give the students their group assignments and a timeline for their research.

Michigan Curriculum Frameworks, SOCIAL STUDIES CONTENT STANDARDS

Historical Perspective
Content Standard 3: All students will reconstruct the past by comparing interpretations written by others from a variety of perspectives and creating narratives from evidence. (Analyzing and Interpreting the Past)

Middle school
Analyze interpretations of major events selected from African, Asian, Canadian, European and Latin American history to reveal the perspectives of the authors.

Show that historical knowledge is tentative and subject to change by describing interpretations of the past that have been revised when new information was uncovered.

High School
Challenge arguments of historical inevitability by formulating examples of how different choices could have led to different consequences

Select contemporary problems in the world and compose historical narratives that explain their antecedents.

More information on Academic Standards for different content areas and different States can be found from the sites below:

Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning in Aurora, Colorado, is a site that provides K-12 academic curriculum content standards.

Achieve is a site that contains the academic state standards for over 40 states. These state standards are from Achieve’s National Standards Clearinghouse and have been provided courtesy of Achieve, Inc. in Cambridge Massachusetts and Washington, DC.

Originally Published by Historical Voices, click here to view article.

A History of the Body

Annotated by: Squier, Harriet


A mother reflects on the developing body of her unborn child, her own contribution to its development, and her hopes that her daughter will grow to cherish her body and to know the love it can hold.


Well written poem/prose piece about a mother’s love toward her unborn daughter, and about the kind of empowerment she hopes to provide her as she grows up.


First published: 1987 (Coffee House Press: Minneapolis, Minn.)

Primary Source

I Am Becoming the Woman I’ve Wanted


Papier Mache

Place Published

Watsonville, Calif




Sandra Haldeman Martz

Originally Published by NYU School of Medicine, click here to view article.