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Review of Grzegorz Kwiatkowski's 'Crops'

Slaughter and Sunlight

By Paul LevinsonPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 1 min read

I don't often review poetry. In fact, this is the first time I've reviewed any poetry here on Vocal. But, every once in a while, words without music, or words with music entirely in the head, call.

Grzegorz Kwiatkowski's Crops (published by Rain Taxi) is a very short book, just 32 pages, with some very deep reflections about one of the tragedies of our modern world and longer than that. Kwiatkowski is a Polish poet and musician (his group, Trupa Trupa, has been making quite a splash), and this book of poetry traces his confrontation and struggle to understand the Holocaust that took so many innocent lives of Jews and others in his country.

The poems are not easy to read, and they should not be. They're replete with bones and body parts, memories and excuses for what happened, a lot more than a moment of sheer depravity that gripped the world. And all the more relevant because of what's going on in our world today, this past weekend, right now.

But I wouldn't be calling your attention to these poems if there was not also some hope in this grim accounting, leaking through and glimmering through the edges. Kwiatkowski concludes one of poems with "someone has written on the nearby wall: innocent sunsets". In the context of the poem, the "innocent sunsets" are an evasion of history and responsibility. But, for me, anything that has anything to do with sunsets is also a recognition of hope for the future. I know that I always feel good when I see a sunset. And that's why, more than fifty years ago, I wrote the lyrics to Looking for Sunsets (In the Early Morning).

And, indeed, all the poetry of Crops is a plea for understanding and hence a statement of hope and an evidence of healing. If someone in Poland today can write such poems, there's hope for our humanity.

photo of Cape Cod sunset -- by Paul Levinson

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About the Creator

Paul Levinson

Novels The Silk Code, The Plot To Save Socrates, It's Real Life: An Alternate History of The Beatles; LPs Twice Upon A Rhyme & Welcome Up; nonfiction The Soft Edge & Digital McLuhan, translated into 15 languages. Prof, Fordham Univ.

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