Volume of poetry inspired by testimony will be published in September 2020

Fri, 03/06/2020 - 2:20pm

From the Annals of Krakow, a sequence of poems by Piotr Florczyk that was inspired by testimonies from the USC Shoah Foundation Visual Archive, will be published in September 2020 by Lynx House Press, a press whose titles are distributed to the trade by University of Washington Press. 

In the summer of 2016, Piotr Florczyk, then a graduate student in the Literature and Creative Writing Program at the University of Southern California, spent two weeks in residence at the USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research as a Center Graduate Summer Research Fellow. During his two weeks in residence, Florczyk watched testimonies in the USC Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive by Polish Jews who talked about villages that had been adjacent to Krakow, which have since been incorporated into the city limits as the city has grown. In many cases, these former villages were spaces that Florczyk knew from personal experience growing up in the region. They were places where Florczyk went swimming, went for walks, and so on. 

Florczyk creatively used testimonies to inspire his own literary interpretation, producing a 30-page sequence of poems entitled From the Annals of Krakow. He read some of this poetry at at a public presentation about his summer research in April 2017 and at the Center’s "Digital Approaches to Genocide Studies" conference in October 2017, as well as at poetry readings in the United States and Poland.

Reflecting on the forthcoming volume, Rachel Brenner, Max and Frieda Weinstein-Bascom and Elaine Marks Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, has written, in part, “From the Annals of Kraków is a remarkable contribution to Holocaust literature. Based on survivors’ testimonies at the USC Shoah Foundation, this volume of poetry represents a unique insight into the impact of the survivors’ experiences of hiding, incarceration and coincidental survival upon post-Holocaust generations. Focusing on the geographic reality of Kraków as a common denominator that links the survivors of the city and himself as the city’s native son, Piotr Florczyk’s deeply moving collection of poems exhibits an uncommon extent of empathy.”

To watch videos of Piotr Florczyk discussing this project and reading his poetry inspired by testimony, click here (and advance the video to the 32-minute mark) and see the video below. 

USC Shoah Foundation