Poetry. Jewish Studies. WALKING BACKWARDS examines resistance to violence and repression through evocations of contemporary events and conversations with poets and artists whose voices arise from the Holocaust. Employing a remarkable variety of formal strategies lyrics, parables, testimony, paratactic narratives and re-castings of Torah stories, inter- leavings with other texts these poems offer a complex vantage on cultural erasure and persistence. Sharkey conjures a simultaneous present to reclaim a heritage expressed by gaps and silencing. Paul Celan, Nelly Sachs, and the Yiddish language poets Abraham Sutzkever and Peretz Markish become contemporaries, as her words mingle with theirs to bear the weight of the unspoken. "What have we come for," the poet asks, "to sleep where the dead slept in the bed of our absence?" What redemption she finds is in language.
"Step by step, line by free-floating line, Lee Sharkey walks backwards into the Jewish catastrophe in this deep book of remembrance a collection of parables, an ongoing conversation with the dead, a tablet of fire." Edward Hirsch"
Lee Sharkey is the author of I WILL NOT NAME IT EXCEPT TO SAY (Tupelo Press, 2021), WALKING BACKWARDS (Tupelo, 2016), CALENDARS OF FIRE (Tupelo, 2013), and five earlier books of poems, as well as a number of chapbooks. Her poetry has appeared in numerous publications, including Consequence, FIELD, Kenyon Review, and Tikkun, and has received many awards, including the 2017 Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize and the 2018 Maine Literary Award in Poetry. She served for fifteen years as co-editor of the Beloit Poetry Journal.