ILSE WEBER (1903-1944).
“After Auschwitz, writing poetry is no longer possible.” — Theodor Adorno
“The truth is, Adorno couldn’t write poetry before Auschwitz either.” — journalist and publicist Johannes Gross.
I am paraphrasing the Adorno quote somewhat for clarity. In fact, the word-for-word quote most often seen is “To write a poem after Auschwitz is barbaric”, although there is a larger context to be found in the paragraphs around it, about the impossibility of the very existence of culture after the Holocaust.
In the nineties, I was invited along to a few family events ( birthday parties, Christmas Eve, that kind of thing) and learned quickly that the composition and recitation of a poem — written in the guest’s honor — was Pflicht in certain German families. The poems were kind, maybe a little humorous but always done with warm feelings and in the simplest of rhyme scheme and iambic tetrameter (well-known…
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