Saturday, 27 October 2012

Lotte Kramer: New and Collected Poems, Rockingham Press 2011

Everyone should have a look at this book.  See it Here

Every school should have a copy, and keep it in alive the curriculum.

There are many poems in this book, and all are incredibly accessible and easy to read.  Some are only three lines long, but all the poems I read left a mark.

Lotte Kramer does not pretend to be a modern, an intellectual, or anything with a big handle on its name.  She is a native German, who was born in 1924 and came to this country on a Kindertransport in 1939.

She writes from the heart about the emotions she still recalls connected with her lost family.  Nowhere else have I read any account of how it felt to run down the stairs for the post each day, hoping a letter would come re-assuring her that her loved ones had survived.  They did not.

She remembers her long dead grandmother each time she picks up the handwoven tablecloth her grandmother made, now darned and mended many times. Each year there is less of the original left.

In cold weather, she remembers how she sheltered behind her mother as they toiled up a hill in snow, then tries to imagine what her relationship with her mother would have been, had it continued through turbulent adolescence to adulthood and becoming a mother herself.

In the loft is the ancient suitcase her mother packed so carefully for that journey in 1939.

My mother was also born in 1924, and was evacuated during the war, from London to Sussex.  I have a little tiny inkling of what it was like to be 15 years old and uprooted,  in a time when no-one knew what the outcome was going to be.  Many of those 15-year-olds are now dead, and most of those that are left (my dear mother-in-law, is one) cannot express their memories of that time. 

Lotte Kramer's gift is that she remembers, and expresses with the simplest clarity, in a way that strikes to the heart.

Please read.

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