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Suppose that a young Central European poet were to have been swept up into one of the World War II death camps. There were many such young women and men in the camps – the sheer numbers make the argument. Concentration is an attempt to stand alongside them, three generations removed, with short, spare, yet formally coherent poems that serve as a kind of journal – an entirely imaginary response to all-too-real and yet unthinkable events. In 1904 Rilke wrote (in Letters to a Young Poet) that the highest human courage was to be found in our willing embrace of what is most strange, grotesque, or inexplicable in our lives. Years later, in the most exigent of circumstances, a young poet writes back.


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