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On Commemoration

Global Reflections upon Remembering War

Edited By Catherine Gilbert, Kate McLoughlin and Niall Munro

How, in the twenty-first century, can we do commemoration better? In particular, how can commemoration contribute to post-war reconciliation and reconstruction? In this book, a global roster of distinguished writers, artists, musicians, religious leaders, military veterans and scholars debate these questions and ponder the future of commemoration. They include the world-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tony Horwitz, the award-winning novelists Aminatta Forna and Rachel Seiffert, and the human rights lawyer and Gifford Baillie Prize-winner Philippe Sands. Polemics and reflections together with poetry and creative prose movingly illuminate a subject that speaks to our common humanity.

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Three Poems (Sue Zatland)

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sue zatland

These three poems are inspired by one controversial monument: the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe – 2,711 massive concrete blocks separated by narrow alleyways undulate like an ocean fetch, fracturing the landscape of Berlin.

The architect Peter Eisenman describes how he watched people walking into the maze-like grid for the first time, transfixed by the image of their heads disappearing as if going under water. I am reminded of Primo Levi’s description of prisoners at Auschwitz, no longer alive, but not dead either, seeming to descend into a personal hell. Having been lost inside this labyrinth myself, and hearing the breath of the minotaur behind each hulking stone, this poem is influenced by Dante’s Inferno and opens with his words.

I came to myself

at the edge of a wood

poet and pilgrim before me

at my shoulder

the she-wolf stood

in the shade of a linden tree.

 

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