Teacher’s Corner

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Did The Holocaust break the poetry “Hallelujah”?

Hey Teach-Peeps! What’s popping in classrooms (or living rooms) in your part of the world!?! Well, we are still on the Virtual Learning end here, as I am sure most of you are too! So, this week’s literary time machine takes us to Post- Holocaust literature! Adorno once said that writing poetry after the Holocaust is barbaric, and it raises the question… Does Poetry still have a place at the table after such a tragic historic event?

Although some like Adorno may feel that poetry cannot possibly be enjoyed by the thousands of survivors of the Holocaust, Celan and Amachai have certainly come to the fore front as prominent and undeniably prominent voices of Jewish poetry since the Holocaust. Celan’s parents both died in concentration camps and Amachai was a veteran in the Jewish military during establishment of the Israeli State and WW2. So, it is safe to say that both had survived the Holocaust in different ways and had beautiful ways of addressing the events and tragedies they watched terribly unfold. Some may even say that they tried their very best to aestheticize all of the death happening around them. Celan’s “Black Milk” reference…is it his way of making the posion they drank less monstrous and give it a childlike quality?

They did what any great artist does, they turn pain, tragedy and suffering into art.  I feel like Celan’s use of metaphors like “black milk of daybreak, we drink it at evening…”, “your Golden hair Margareta” and “Your ashen hair Shulamith” (Celan, 2012) was used as an attempt to aestheticize death. Maybe he was so used to death and had come to accept it, that he used metaphors to normalize and give beauty to a person’s last transition no matter how tragic and unfortunate it may have been it should atleast be beautiful.

I think that all in all that the theme to really drive home this week, is the beauty and art that can come out the darkest of times and in the case of Amachai and Celan they prove this in their artful way with words in light of tragic situations. Amachai writes, “Of three or four in a room there is always one who must stand beside the window. He must see the Evil among the thorns and the fire on the hill. And how people who went out their houses whole are given back in the evening like small change .” (Amachai, 2012). He perfectly captures the moment of people being on watch during time of war and the dehumanization of the people who either left as soldiers or prisoners of the war leaving and coming back as half of the person that they were. I am sure that that sentiment was very true for him having been through so much as war veteran. It is a beautiful thing to be on watch and steadfast for the people you love; but when you cannot protect them and they come back broken it’s probably the world’s worst most helpless feeling.

So, while we are teaching this subject, I feel that it is crucial that we teach our young adult students that even though the world and individuals may go through what seem as the darkest of times that even in the consuming darkness there is beauty and a light to be found; the darkness doesn’t last forever. This is important to young adult students because High-school is unfortunately a time of necessary darkness for many.

Kids are cruel, cliques are hard to deal with and many never find their “place”, YA students tend to feel misunderstood by all in this time of rebellious adolescence and while they aren’t on death row in concentration camps, but they certainly feel ostracized and alone in their journey into the world of adulthood. Our job as educators is to help our students on their journey into adulthood and teach them how to deal with struggles and times in their lives that seem lonely, dark and unrelenting. We need to teach them that life is still beautiful and while it may be hard, at times tragic and that it can seem cold and broken there is still a Hallelujah to be found in the poetry that is life.

It’s that time you guys! You’re favorite part! Britt’s Pop Culture Pick! So, I don’t have a Disney one for you guys this week either! I know, Shocker! This week I picked the film, A Hidden Life. “It is Based on real events, A Hidden Life is the story of an unsung hero, Bl. Franz Jägerstätter, who refused to fight for the Nazis in World War II. When the Austrian peasant farmer is faced with the threat of execution for treason, it is his unwavering faith and his love for his wife, Fani, and children that keeps his spirit alive.”(IMDB.com)

I think this goes hand in hand with our theme this week of the Hallelujah of life, beauty, and poetry in the most tragic times, even the Holocaust.

Well, Guys there you have it! I wrapped up this week’s themes and Literary content , I hope this helps you not only in your classrooms but maybe a little food for your soul as well! Stay safe, Stay well and remember when life gives you lemons….sound a Hallelujah!

XOXO, Britt

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