Charles Fishman Introduction
by John Guzlowski, Poetry Editor
When I first bought and read a copy of Charles Fishman’s The Death Mazurka, an early book of his poems on the Holocaust, I was floored. I had been writing poems about my parents and their experiences in the Nazi slave labor camps for a number of years, and I knew that writing such poems was hard, because writing about horror is hard.

Horror can strip everything away, the humanity of those you’re writing about, your own abilities as a writer, your own humanity. And Charles Fishman wrote about horror in that book. He wrote about the really terrible things we do to each other, but he did it in such a way that you never forgot that the people he was writing about were still human. Reading his other books, I’ve come to believe that this is his great gift as a writer.

The people he writes about are not victims or monsters, not poster children for this cause or that, not caricatures in any way. Reading Charles Fishman’s poetry, you never say, “Oh, here’s another horror story, I don’t like horror stories,” or “Oh, here’s another horror story, I like horror stories.” Reading his poems, you see the horror clearly and directly, and you see that this horror is happening to a person, and you feel connected with this person. This is Charles Fishman’s gift, and he offers it to us on every page he writes.

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