john guzlowski

john guzlowski
Location
Danville, Virginia, USA
Birthday
June 22
Bio
I was born in a refugee camp in Germany after World War II, and came with my Polish Catholic parents Jan and Tekla and my sister Donna to the United States as Displaced Persons in 1951. My parents had been slave laborers in Nazi Germany. Growing up in the immigrant and DP neighborhoods around Humboldt Park in Chicago, I met Jewish hardware store clerks with Auschwitz tattoos on their wrists, Polish cavalry officers who still mourned for their dead horses, and women who walked from Siberia to Iran to escape the Russians. I write about these people.

MY RECENT POSTS

NOVEMBER 23, 2014 8:29PM

6 Short Poems about the Monk Ikkyū

Ikkyu (Ikkyu Sojun), Ikkyu (Ikkyu Sojun) poetry, Buddhist, Buddhist poetry, Zen / Chan poetry,  poetry,  poetry


Ikkyu was an eccentric, iconoclastic Japanese Zen Buddhist monk and poet (1394-1481).  A couple years ago, I wrote a sequence of poems about him.  The poems appeared in the Buddhist Poetry Review.

 

 

6 Short Poems about the Monk Ikkyu 

 

1

Read full post »
NOVEMBER 19, 2014 1:10PM

The Emptying by Jerome Rothenberg

 

Continuing my occasional posting of poems from Blood to Remember: American Poets on the Holocaust (ed. Charles Fishman), here's Jerome Rothenberg's Dos Oysleydikn (The Emptying), a mediation on Poland after the Holocaust.

 

Here's a link to Mr. Rothenberg reading the poe

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My friend Anglo-Polish artist Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk posted some of his family photographs on Facebook recently and wrote some remarks about them.  Originally, he planned only to post 5 photos and his commentary, but the project has expanded.  At this point, he has written about more… Read full post »

NOVEMBER 16, 2014 2:33PM

End of Summer, 2014

 

End of Summer: 

 

Summer comes early to southside Virginia.  I start mowing usually around the start of March.  For me that's the official start of Summer.  The calendars tell you it's sometime in late June, but don't believe them.  Calendars are created b… Read full post »

NOVEMBER 15, 2014 2:57PM

Jack Kerouac -- King of the Beats

 

I watched Kerouac: the King of the Beats, a documentary on Kerouac and 10 minutes of a movie based on K's novel Big Sur this morning, on Netflix.  In the 60s I was a big Kerouac fan, read my first Kerouac novel as I was walking home from finding… Read full post »

I first heard of World War I when we came to America as Displaced Persons in 1951. We were refugees after World War II, and we moved into a basement apartment on Hamilton Street in Chicago.

 

Our landlord was a veteran of the First World War. He was a… Read full post »

 

I first saw him in front of the barracks. He was walking with six other prisoners, a German soldier behind them pushing at them with some kind of rifle. Your father wasn’t how he is now. He was skinny then, like two shoelaces tied together.

 

I was notRead full post »

NOVEMBER 7, 2014 8:41PM

Killing

 
 
Killing

My father knew men and animals 
did not die the same way.  A man 
would kill a horse or a cow or a pig 
with respect he’d never show a man.  

Killing a pig, a man would steady it, 
prepare it for the single… Read full post »
NOVEMBER 4, 2014 8:51PM

At 40 His Wife Begins to Write Poems

 

At 40 His Wife Begins to Write Poems

Each night, they come to her in dreams,
and when she can’t listen anymore,
she wakes and writes in darkness,
the shadows from the street falling
through the blinds and onto the paper,
like whispers.

She feels her husband beside her,
sleeping in a wor/
Read full post »

OCTOBER 29, 2014 9:46PM

The Day My Mother Felt Good

 

 

The Day My Mother Felt Good

 

Monday she’d been crying a lot
thinking she’d never walk again.

 

It was the Jerry Lewis Telethon
that did it to her, listening to him 
talk about the kids who can’t walk. 
She felt he was talking about her. 
My/… Read full post »

OCTOBER 28, 2014 3:09PM

Dreaming in Buchenwald

 

 

Dreaming in Buchenwald

 

The world burns before our eyes, 
and the smell of everything red
is on our skin.

We wait in line for bread
that never comes. We speak
to strangers thinking they will
tell us where our lives are.

We pray in the barracks 
and the fields for the mi/… Read full post »

OCTOBER 15, 2014 10:08PM

The Coming of Columbus

 

The Coming of Columbus

Everywhere

trees paused

their slow growth

upward and outward

and leaves stopped

unfolding into

the waiting air

 

In the tallest branches

birds leaned

their crooked beaks

into the windRead full post »

OCTOBER 15, 2014 11:36AM

A German Soldier Urinates in a Bus

He stood up and braced himself against a crate and unbuttoned his trousers. He had to relieve himself, and this was a good place. Even though it was cold in the bus, he could smell that other men had done the same thing here, and for the same reason. It… Read full post »

OCTOBER 10, 2014 3:04PM

Hope

mom

When my mother was dying, she insisted for a long time that she could beat death.

She had survived the murder of her family by the nazis, years in concentration camps, living from hand to mouth in America, an alcoholic husband suffering from PTSD, two cancers, arthritis that crippled her… Read full post »


Road of Bones:  That's the title of my forthcoming novel (ÄŒervená Barva Press) about two German lovers separated by war.  It's set in Berlin and the Russian Front during one cold week in January of 1945.  The main characters are Hans, a soldier, and Magda, a w/… Read full post »

OCTOBER 8, 2014 3:31PM

BE•HOLD: A Performance Film

 

I first heard about Janet R. Kirchheimer and her project to make BE*HOLD, a documentary focusing on poetry dealing with the Holocaust, this last summer.  I was immediately interested in the focus of this work and the possibilities that it raised for understanding how people respon

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OCTOBER 7, 2014 1:24PM

The Truth

 

We are in our bodies and not in our bodies.

We are not where we say we are and we are where we say we are.

The truth is always the truth and not the truth.

Always.

If it wasn't, it wouldn't be.

I'm a wave andRead full post »

OCTOBER 1, 2014 5:38PM

Life Story

Margarita Georgiadis, risking_enchantment


Life Story

He was born in a refugee camp in Germany in 1945.
He was 1 pound 8 ounces. 

He was a leaf of grass. He was lovely.

He was born dreaming his mother’s dream
of flying like a robin through the sky
and eating everything
that was pure and good and golden.

AndRead full post »

OCTOBER 1, 2014 9:36AM

War: An Update

I saw an article at the NY Review of Books Blog about whether or not war is coming.  The piece is called "Birds of War" by Christopher Benfey.

He got me thinking.

It seems to me it's an odd question because there is always war coming.  

I was born in 1948Read full post »

From my unpublished novel Suitcase Charlie:

 

Hank sat down on the wet park bench next to his partner Marvin. 

Even on a rainy night, it was a nice view.  He looked at the dark lagoon and the boathouse across the water.   It was like some kind of baronial mansion… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 30, 2014 2:43PM

Interview with John Guzlowski

Dear Friends,

 

 

Recently, Maureen E Doallas interviewed me for her art and culture website Writing Without Paper about my Polish background and the War and how they have influenced my writing.


http://writingwithoutpaper.blogspot.com/2014/09/interview-with-poet-john-guzlowski-part.htRead full post »

SEPTEMBER 29, 2014 11:52AM

Polish Literature and Me

 

Polish Literature and Me

Polish Literature and I have had a stormy relationship.  For much of my writing and reading life, I wanted nothing to do with it or any other aspect of Poland’s culture or history.  I didn’t want to know anything about

Read full post »
SEPTEMBER 26, 2014 3:34PM

Re-Reading Moby Dick

While crossing the North Atlantic on a recent cruise, I read a number of sea novels, most by Joseph Conrad.  He's a great writer and the experience was perfect, but the wildest book I read wasn't by Conrad.  

It was undoubtedly Herman Melville's Moby Dick.

I've read this novel… Read full post »

My own favorite would probably be something from Shakespeare: 

"To be or not to Be--that is the question."

or maybe Dickinson:

"I heard a fly buzz when I died."

or perhaps Whitman:

"A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;

How could I answer the… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 2, 2014 6:47PM

What Keeps a Man Alive

 

My father didn’t know why he didn’t die when so many of his friends did.

He once told a story about being hauled out of his barracks with hundreds of other prisoners for a roll call. It was a January night, snowing and below zero, and the men were

Read full post »