[Note, Added August 17, 2016: The poetry performance film noted below as BE●HOLD has been renamed. It is now called After: A Poetry Film. Also, a trailer has been released. See the FaceBook page below.]
You will find me today at the TweetSpeak Poetry blog, where the first segment of my three-part interview with poet and filmmaker Janet R. Kirchheimer is posted.
I am privileged to have had the opportunity to talk in depth with Janet about her experiences as the child of a Holocaust survivor; her decision to become a poet and filmmaker; her exhibition with photographer Aliza Augustine that integrates poetry and photographs taken at Holocaust-related sites ("How to Spot One of Us: A Collaborative Exhibition" continues through May 18 at Kean University's Human Rights Institute Gallery, Union, New Jersey), and her in-production, cinematic performance film BE•HOLD.
A New York City resident, Janet is a Teaching Fellow at CLAL and the author of the poetry collection How to Spot One of Us (CLAL - National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, 2007). Janet generously provided both family photographs and stills from BE•HOLD, as well as some of her poems (read "The Photograph" below), to complement our interview and this introduction.
by Janet R. Kirchheimer
My mother, four years old, blond curls,
wearing a smocked dress, in a field of goldenrod,
her doll on her lap and her dog at her side.
Two years later, the girl in the photograph
would be backed up against a wall at school,
by kids in her class, for refusing to say "Heil Hitler,"
and they would throw rocks, beat her up, call her Jude,
her dress would be torn, and her parents
would have to find a way to get her out of Germany.
She would be sent to an orphanage in Amsterdam,
and they would wait two years for their visas
to America. I want to ask the girl what
would have become of her if her parents hadn't
found a way out? Would she have survived?
Would she have been experimented on like her cousin Hanni
who returned home after the war and rarely
left her room, or would she,
like another cousin, Bertl, have tried to cross the Pyrenees
into Spain and never be heard from again? What if Hitler had never come
to power, would she and her parents still have come to America?
Would she have met my father, and who would
she have married if she had stayed in Germany, and
who would she have become and what would have become
of me? I cannot let go of it.
(Copyright © Janet R. Kirchheimer. Used with permission.)
Part 1, "Holocaust Poems: Interview with Poet and Filmmaker Janet R. Kirchheimer", April 29, 2015
Part 2, May 6, 2015
Part 3, May 13, 2015
After: A Poetry Film (formerly, BE•HOLD) on FaceBook
BE•HOLD at The Jewish Writing Project