Aunt Bird is an astonishing, hybrid poetry of witness that observes and testifies to social, political, and historical realities through the recovery of one life silenced by the past. Within these pages, poet Yerra Sugarman confronts the Holocaust as it was experienced by a young Jewish woman: the author's twenty-three-year-old aunt, Feiga Maler, whom Sugarman never knew, and who died in the Kraków Ghetto in German-occupied Poland in 1942. In lyric poems, prose poems, and lyric essays, Aunt Bird combines documentary poetics with surrealism: sourcing from the testimonials of her kin who survived, as well as official Nazi documents about Feiga Maler, these poems imagine Sugarman's relationship with her deceased aunt and thus recreate her life. Braiding speculation, primary sources, and the cultural knowledge-base of postmemory, Aunt Bird seeks what Eavan Boland calls "a habitable grief," elegizing the particular loss of one woman while honoring who Feiga was, or might have been, and recognizing the time we have now.
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About the Author
Yerra Sugarman is also the author of Forms of Gone (Sheep Meadow Press, 2002), which won PEN American Center's PEN / Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry, and The Bag of Broken Glass (Sheep Meadow Press, 2008), poems from which received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. Her other honors include a Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner Award, a Canada Council for the Arts Grant for Creative Writers, the Poetry Society of America's George Bogin Memorial Award and Cecil Hemley Memorial Award, a Chicago Literary Award, and a "Discovery"/The Nation Poetry Award. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Ploughshares, Colorado Review, The Nation, AGNI, Prairie Schooner, New England Review, and elsewhere. She earned an MFA in Visual Art from Columbia University, and a PhD in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Houston. Born in Toronto, she lives in New York City.