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More Gifts for People with Migraine or Other Chronic Pain

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It might seem challenging to buy gifts for someone with migraine, neuropathic facial pain, or other chronic pain, but if you forget the word “cure” in your quest for the perfect gift and think of comforting the person instead, it will be much easier for you to get something that they’ll appreciate. Remember that “chronic” pain means “constant” pain: if it could be eliminated, most of us would have done anything necessary to rid ourselves of the debilitating, sometimes disabling, pain. Gifts for People with Migraine and Chronic Pain explains some of the products that I’ve come to rely on to reduce pain. Here are more of my favorite products that your family, friends, and colleagues with chronic pain might appreciate.

Ginger Root Tea

Migraine attacks and other chronic pain are sometimes accompanied by nausea. While prescription anti-emetics might help prevent vomiting, they don’t do anything to quell nausea. Ginger, whether crystallized, cut fresh from the root, or made into tea, is the best natural remedy I’ve ever found to quell nausea, whether it’s from migraine, medications, motion-sickness, flu, or holiday overindulgence. It has none of the side-effects of pharmaceutical anti-emetics (prescription or OTC) and can be added to liquids so you ensure that you remain hydrated. Ginger is also an anti-inflammatory, and I’ve found that when I drink ginger tea regularly, the neuropathic facial pain is reduced. Therefore, instead of saving the tea for hemiplegic migraine attacks, I have some regularly throughout the day (for Warnings about ginger consumption, see my Natural Nausea Relief).

The best ginger I’ve ever gotten for homemade tea is Tea Spot’s Organic Ginger Root. I realize that tossing a couple of pieces of crystallized ginger into a cup of boiling water will give a faint ginger taste, but Tea Spot’s Organic Ginger Root makes a wonderful tea that I can have without sugar. It provides all the stomach-calming and nausea-quelling properties of the crystallized ginger without any of the sugar. Also, since Tea Spot’s ginger root is dried and chopped, I don’t have to store it in the refrigerator or freezer as I do with fresh or crystallized ginger, which makes it very convenient.

You can get Tea Spot’s Organic Ginger Root for tea in several sizes: $4 sample (2 servings), $13.50 (¼ lb), $46.50 (1 lb). The Tea Spot has a large variety of black, green, and herbal teas, all of excellent quality and flavor (but then, I’ve been a tea-drinker all my life, preferring it to coffee). They also have tea samplers, tumblers, mugs, teapots, and more. Tea Spot gift cards ($25, $50, $100, $200) are available if you are unsure about which teas your recipients might prefer.

Books

I’ve always been a huge lover of books so even when I have a migraine attack, I need to read. Books have always been an integral part of my self-care routine even before I understood the meaning of taking care of myself. Sometimes, migraine or other pain is so debilitating that the person cannot read. Other times, as when migraine becomes chronic (more than 15 days per month for at least 3 months) or intractable (never-ending), the pain, though quite severe, allows some reading. Some people with migraine have told me they cannot read e-books during a migraine but can manage traditional paper books. At times, I can read on my tablet, but I need to put it on Night (Dark) mode. When I have a hemiplegic migraine and cannot read or even lift my head from the pillow, I listen to audiobooks, which was a lifesaver in April 2018 when this intractable migraine began. There are several ways to provide books as gifts to recipients: paper books, e-books, and audiobooks.

Paper Books

So many books, so little time. I get most of my books from Amazon these days, if only because living up here on Big Rock Candy Mountain with the nearest bookstore about 2 hours away doesn’t allow much wandering the aisles and spending the day as if you were in a library (no libraries around here either). Also, as someone with intractable migraine for over 19 months and with neuropathic facial pain (formerly, atypical trigeminal neuralgia), I am mostly house-bound. I love being able to browse any category of books I wish without leaving home.

If you know the categories, authors, or specific titles your recipients might like, it’ll make your job easier when looking for books they might enjoy. If you don’t have specifics on authors or titles, you can always get them Amazon gift certificates: available as a physical card in a decorative box or tin ($50-$2,000, several designs), a card in a decorated mini-envelope ($10-$2,000, 3-5 designs), a card in greeting card with a separate envelope for mailing ($10 to $2,000, several designs), or as an e-gift card ($25-$2,000).

eBooks

10 years ago, if you’d asked me about e-books, I never would have imagined that they could have existed, let alone that I would like them. When we moved up here on the mountain in 2009, however, all my boxes of books had to stay in the barn: the house was simply too small to hold them all, and it took me years to save enough money to have some bookshelves built in my office. In the meantime, when I was desperate for something to read, I began to look at the classics, which were inaccessibly stored in the barn, in electronic book form. At that time, most of the classics were free in e-book form. Now virtually all books are available in both paper and e-book formats, and though I love paper books most, I love the convenience of e-books.

Your recipient can use an Amazon gift card for either paper or e-books, but you can also buy someone a subscription to Kindle Unlimited ($9.99/month) and they can read any book enrolled in the KU program. If you really want someone to gush with gratitude, you could buy them a Kindle ($69-249) — Amazon’s tablet — but that’s not necessary for them to enjoy e-books or to be in Kindle Unlimited. Kindle Reading Apps are free for any device: iOS, Android, Mac, PC. (It’s what I’ve used since about 2010, on my iPad, Mac, and iPhone).

Any Amazon gift cards can be used for e-books: card in a decorative box or tin ($50-$2,000), card in a decorated mini-envelope ($10-$2,000), card in greeting card with a separate envelope for mailing ($10 to $2,000), or e-gift card ($25-$2,000).

Audiobooks

Just as I never would have guessed that I would love e-books, I really never would have known that I would love audiobooks. And I never even listened to an audiobook before June of 2018, by which time I’d had an intractable migraine since April of that year and was bored witless. I couldn’t read — neither paper nor electronic books — so I tried the Audible 30-day free trial. I got a couple of my favorite classic books, each read by one of my favorite actors. While I lay on the couch (tired of lying in bed), I listened to the audiobooks. Before the end of the first couple chapters of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, I was hooked. Now I have a huge audiobook library, mostly classics, but some bestsellers and memoirs, too.

You can purchase gift cards for audiobooks directly from Audible (1, 3, 6, or 12 months for $15, $45, $90, or $150, respectively) or Audible via Amazon (same months and prices as at Audible). (Please note that Amazon gift cards are not eligible for use at Audible, and vice versa.)

Guided Meditation Apps to Reduce Pain

Surf City Apps and Relax Melodies

I’ve written several articles on the many free self-hypnosis meditation apps that successfully reduce migraine and chronic pain, and the links in this paragraph will take to those more detailed articles. I use Surf City Apps’ Migraine and Headache Relief, Chronic Pain Relief, and Sleep Well: Insomnia Relief (since both migraine and other types of chronic pain can cause painsomnia: pain-induced insomnia). I also use Relax Melodies, a guided meditation app which has a “background” feature which allows you to play its sounds “behind” other apps and which I use for the relief of both pain and insomnia.

Both Surf City Apps and Relax Melodies are available for iOS and Android devices. All these apps can be used for free, for an unlimited time. Download Sleep Well Insomnia Relief from Surf City Apps, from the App store for all iOS devices, from Amazon for Kindles, and from GooglePlay for Android devices. You can check out all Surf City’s free apps on its website. Their apps have been downloaded over 5 million times and average 4+ stars out of 5 for Sleep Well Insomnia Relief. Ipnos’ Relax Melodies app, available in 10 languages, has a 4.5 out of 5* rating (with 700,000 reviews).

Migraine & Headache Relief is free from Surf City Apps for iOS or Android devices, from Amazon for Kindle, from the App Store for iOS devices, or from GooglePlay for Android devices.

Chronic Pain Relief is free from Surf City Apps for iOS or Android devices, from Amazon for Kindle, from the App Store for iOS devices, and from GooglePlay for Android devices.

Sleep Well Insomnia Relief is free from Surf City Apps, from the App store for all iOS devices, from Amazon for Kindles, and from GooglePlay for Android devices.

Relax Melodies is free from Ipnos after selecting your type of smartphone, from Amazon for Kindle, from the App Store for iOS devices, and from Google Play for Android devices.

The Difference Between the Free and Premium Versions

Although all of these apps are available free, they’re worth purchasing the premium version. The difference between the free and the paid versions of these apps is the ability to change background noises and to Loop the meditation so that it repeats as often as the listener wishes (Surf City Apps) and to include additional guided meditations to reduce the stress and anxiety (Relax Melodies) that are often common in people with migraine and other chronic pain. The premium versions of Surf City Apps’ self-hypnosis guided meditations are $1.99-$4.99 depending on the meditation. Relax Melodies premium version is $4.99 for one month access to all its features or $27.99 for lifetime access.

If you know of a specific app that someone uses to reduce pain, anxiety, or insomnia, you could always purchase gift cards so they can buy the premium versions of these apps. For people with an iPad or an iPhone, you could get them an Apple App Store or iTunes gift card via Amazon (physical gift card in $25, $50, $100, $200 amounts; e-gift card for $25, $50, $100, $200). You can purchase a Google Play gift card via Amazon (physical gift card $50; e-gift card for $25, $50, $100, $200) for anyone with Android phones or tablets.

Additionally, all of these guided meditation apps to reduce pain and insomnia are also available via Amazon for its Kindles: any Amazon gift cards can be used for the premium version of these apps: card in a decorative box or tin ($50-$2,000), card in a decorated mini-envelope ($10-$2,000), card in greeting card with a separate envelope for mailing ($10 to $2,000), or e-gift card ($25-$2,000).

Health Journeys App, CDs, MP3s

Health Journeys, founded by holistic medicine advocate Belleruth Naparstek, sponsors a large library of guided meditations, with many of them devoted to pain relief and healing. I regularly use Naparstek’s Meditation to Ease Pain and Meditation to Help Relieve Headaches, the latter of which features a guided meditation for relief of headache pain as well as a meditation designed to help prevent future head pain. I list several of Health Journeys other pain relief apps in my Gifts article.

These audio guided meditations are available in MP3 or CD format ($11.98 or $17.98, respectively) and are also available to stream from Health Journeys app for Android and iOS, which features a 7-day free trial. Health Journeys also has other items for pain relief and healing, including guided meditations by Dr. Andrew Weil, one of the leaders in holistic medicine (CDs only), essential oils, books, pillows, lotions, etc. They also have gift cards ($15-$100) so that recipients can choose their own gifts. Health Journey’s catalogue is available online or by mail.

Remember to think “comfort” instead of “cure” when considering gifts for people with chronic pain and it’ll be easier for you to please people. Don’t have anyone to buy gifts for you? Then take care of yourself by getting at least one of these gifts, or those in my Gifts for People with Migraine or Other Chronic Pain (portable aromatherapy roll-ons and balms; all cotton heating/cold pads; and more details and meditations from Health Journeys, which  I’ve used almost 30 years, back when cassettes were the way to have portable audio). Whether you buy these gifts for others or for yourself, they’ll help reduce pain and comfort anyone suffering from migraine attacks or other chronic pain.


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For more of my articles on migraine or chronic pain,
see my Migraine & Chronic Pain page.

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Filed under Atypical Trigeminal Neuralgia, Audiobooks, Books, Caregivers, chronic pain, Chronic Pain Treatment, E-books, healing, Health and Wellness, hemiplegic migraines, Meditation and MIndfulness, migraine, migraine self-care, Migraine Treatment, Migraine with Aura, Migraine Without Aura, migraines, Neuropathic Facial Pain, PTSD, Self-Hypnosis Apps, Self-Hypnosis Meditation Apps, trigeminal neuralgia, trigeminal neuropathy

Holocaust Survivor Testimony: Urbach & Schindler, Goodkin & Wallenberg, 2014

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Yom HaShoah 2014
Holocaust Remembrance

During the Holocaust, with its Nazi-sponsored, systematic persecution and genocide of the Jews, there were some people who risked their own lives to protect Jews and to save them. Sometimes, as in the case of Oskar Schindler, the subject of Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-winning film Schindler’s List (from Australian author Thomas Keneally’s award-winning novel Schindler’s Ark), the person is relatively well known to many of us. In other instances, such as that of Raoul Wallenberg, who disappeared during the War, most probably taken by the Nazis and executed, the people who saved Jews are not as familiar. It is then that we must rely on Survivor Testimony to learn about some of those who did risk everything to help save the European Jews.

Sol Urbach
saved by
Oskar Schindler

Oskar Schindler

Oskar Schindler

 

Sol Urbach was born in Poland in 1925. He was one of the Jews that were protected and rescued by Oskar Schindler in Cracow and then in Plaszow (from Yad Vashem Holocaust Testimonies).

Based on a true story, Schindler’s List is Steven Spielberg’s epic drama of World War II Holocaust survivors and the man who unexpectedly came to be their savior. Unrepentant womanizer and war profiteer Oskar Schindler uses Polish Jews as cheap labor to produce cookware for the Third Reich. But after witnessing the violent liquidation of the walled ghetto where the Krakow Jews have been forced to live, Schindler (Liam Neeson) slowly begins to realize the immense evil of Nazism. When his employees are sent to a work camp, they come under the terrorizing reign of sadistic Nazi Amon Goeth (Ralph Fiennes). With the help of his accountant, Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley), Schindler creates a list of “essential” Jews. Bribing Goeth, Schindler manages to get 1,100 people released from the camp and brought to the safety of his munitions factory in Czechoslovakia. Spielberg’s glorious film is wondrously evocative, visually stunning, and emotionally stirring (from Schindler’s List website).

If you haven’t seen the film, I urge you to do so.

Vera Goodkin
saved by
Raoul Wallenberg

Raoul Wallenberg

Raoul Wallenberg

 

Vera Goodkin was born in Hradec Kralove, Czechoslovakia in 1930. Her family fled to Hungary, where after the German occupation they were protected by Raoul Wallenberg. Vera Goodkin remembers her father’s meeting with Wallenberg. (from Yad Vashem Holocaust Histories)

You can read about others who saved Jews during the Holocaust at Yad Vashem’s Righteous Among the Nations, sometimes referred to as “Righteous Gentiles,” and at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) sites, among those featured are Oskar Schindler and Raoul Wallenberg.

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Photographic Introduction to the Holocaust

Rare Historical Holocaust Photos

Holocaust Timeline and Overview

Holocaust Days of Remembrance

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(United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)

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or to fill out Pages of Testimony, visit
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Holocaust Survivor Testimony: Zanne & The Twins, 2014

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Yom HaShoah
International Holocaust Memorial Day
Monday 28 April 2014

When young Israelis first began learning about the Holocaust, many of them couldn’t relate to the victims. The young generation, raised in the newly established state of Israel, among survivors, who swore “Never Again,” felt that the European Jews had been “led to the [Nazi] slaughter like lambs.” It was then that the activities of the partisans, the members of the Underground, the Resistance, and the Ghetto Uprisings were included in the teaching and remembrance of the Holocaust. Also, Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust History Museum, began collecting oral histories from the survivors, which seemed to resonate more intimately with younger people. Many of them learned, for the first time, that people their own ages had been sent to concentration camps and extermination camps like Auschwitz. Here are two of the stories.

Zanne Farbstein

Zanne Farbstein was 16 years old when she was deported with her two younger sisters to Auschwitz. While working as a slave laborer, Zanne found her father’s prayer shawl while sorting through the clothing of the prisoners who had been murdered in the camp. Zanne survived Auschwitz , and moved to Israel with her few surviving family members, where she began a new life. (from Yad Vashem)

Twin Survivors,
Iudit and Lia

Identical twin sisters Iudit Barnea and Lia Huber (nées Tchengar) were born in 1937 in the town of Şimleul Silvaniei (Szilagysomlyo), Transylvania. In 1940, Transylvania was annexed to Hungary, and in June 1942 their father Zvi was taken to a forced labor unit on the Russian front.  Miraculously, both twins survived. (from Yad Vashem)

Please join me and millions of others this Yom HaShoah, as well as the days before and after, remembering the victims, the activists, and the survivors of the Holocaust. Share their stories so that the past does not die with them. Remind others of the atrocities and the genocide of The Holocaust so that it can never happen again, anywhere. At 11:00 a.m. Monday 28 April, stand and observe the two minutes of silence in reflection and devotion.

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For a Photographic Introduction to the Holocaust, visit my Pinterest Board

Learn about The Holocaust on USHMM
(United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)

For more information on the database or
to fill out Pages of Testimony, visit
Yad Vashem‘s Central Database of Shoah Victims

Share

Leave a Comment

Filed under Atypical Trigeminal Neuralgia, Audiobooks, Books, Caregivers, chronic pain, Chronic Pain Treatment, E-books, healing, Health and Wellness, hemiplegic migraines, Meditation and MIndfulness, migraine, migraine self-care, Migraine Treatment, Migraine with Aura, Migraine Without Aura, migraines, Neuropathic Facial Pain, PTSD, Self-Hypnosis Apps, Self-Hypnosis Meditation Apps, trigeminal neuralgia, trigeminal neuropathy

Never Again: Yom HaShoah

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Yom HaShoah
International Holocaust Memorial Day

We must never forget what happened during the Holocaust, not only because of the large-scale persecution and execution of the European Jews, but because such hatred, intolerance, and genocide still exist today, against Jews as well as against many other groups of people. Soon, there will be no Holocaust survivors remaining to tell their own stories, so we must prevent this horrific event from becoming “distant history” by telling their stories for them, and by creating, reading, and viewing art which reminds us that “the only thing necessary for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing” (Edmund Burke).

In honor of Yom HaShoah, in memory of my great-grandparents’ family members and all the other Jews who were killed during the Holocaust, in honor of my friend who survived Auschwitz at age 16 – Anna Brunn Ornstein – and all the other survivors of the camps, I present my novel The Kommandant’s Mistress, Revised & Expanded, 20th Anniversary Edition; and my collection of Holocaust poetry Where Lightning Strikes. Read the descriptions, see the covers, and get the links for each book below.

The Kommandant’s Mistress

The Kommandant's Mistress

Viewing the Holocaust from multiple perspectives, The Kommandant’s Mistress tells the story of a Nazi Kommandant who forces a Jewish inmate to be his “mistress” during the war; first, he tells us his version of events, and then she tells us hers.

Historical Fiction set during Holocaust & World War II
Warning: Adult Content, Violence.

The rumors spread by the Camp’s inmates, other Nazi officers, and the Kommandant’s own family insist that she was his “mistress”, but was she, voluntarily? Told from three different perspectives – that of the formerly idealistic Kommandant, the young Jewish inmate who captivates him, and the ostensibly objective historical biographies of the protagonists – this novel examines one troubling moral question over and over: if your staying alive was the only “good” during the War, if your survival was your sole purpose in this horrific world of the Concentration Camps – whether you were Nazi or Jewish – what, exactly, would you do to survive? Would you lie, cheat, steal, kill, submit?

Flashing back and forth through the narrators’ memories as they recall their time before, during, and after the War, and leading, inevitably, to their ultimate, shocking confrontation, “Szeman’s uncompromising realism and superb use of stream-of-consciousness technique make [this novel] a chilling study of evil, erotic obsession, and the will to survive” (Publishers Weekly).

Winner of the Kafka Prize for “best book of prose fiction by an American woman” (’94) and chosen as one of the New York Times Book Review‘s “Top 100 Books of the Year” (’93), the tales told by the Kommandant, his “mistress”, and their “biographer” will mesmerize and stun you, leaving you wondering, at the conclusion, which, if any, is telling the complete truth about what happened between them.

Revised & Expanded, 20th Anniversary Edition
Includes Discussion Questions & Chapter-by-Chapter Scene Index,
all hyper-linked back to text in novel.

The Kommandant's Mistress

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Read an excerpt from the novel: Chapter One, or download a free (3-chapter) Sample from Amazon [this link is to the American site: each site offers free samples].

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Where Lightning Strikes

Where Lightning Strikes: Poems on the Holocaust

Where Lightning Strikes includes all Szeman’s Holocaust poetry, from the poems featured in her Ph.D. dissertation Survivor: One Who Survives, to the original versions of “Rachel’s poems” appearing or mentioned in Szeman’s award-winning, critically acclaimed first novel The Kommandant’s Mistress.

The poems in this collection revisit the classic themes that have inspired poets for generations: love, passion, betrayal, doubt, loyalty, despair, faith, and survival — this time in the context of the period before, during, and after the Holocaust with its systematic persecution and extermination of the majority of European Jewry by the Nazi regime.

In this collection, victims are given voices. In “First Day of German Class” a young, teenaged girl unfamiliar with the Nazis and their atrocities in Germany and other Nazi-occupied territory develops a crush on the handsome and enigmatic SS Officer who passes out the yellow Stars of David they must now wear, like a brand, to identify and isolate them from the rest of the population.

In the author’s first Holocaust poem, “Cutthroat: A Player Who Plays for Himself” — excerpted in The Kommandant’s Mistress — a female inmate forced into sexual servitude by the Kommandant of the camp considers suicide as an escape from her personal bondage and from the camp, even as she alternately pities or condemns those “weak enough” to “go to the wire” (grab the electric fence), offering her own suggestions for suicide to “escape” the intolerable situation.

“Survivor: One Who Survives,” the title poem of Szeman’s dissertation, also mentioned in her first novel as one of Rachel’s poems/books, explores the life of a woman who “survived” her experiences in the camps but is having difficulty “living.”

Other disturbing yet lyrical poems trace the Holocaust from the perpetrators’ perspective. We hear Albert Speer’s musings about which “path” to take in the dramatic monologue “Learning the New Language,” in which he initially claims not to understand the “new language” that everyone in the Nazi-regime is speaking, but then begins to practice some of the words himself.

A Warsaw Ghetto guard in “The Dead Bodies That Line The Streets” bitterly complains about all the dead bodies who watch his every movement, whisper behind his back, and generally prevent him from doing his job effectively and from sleeping well.

Early, unnamed versions of Max, of The Kommandant’s Mistress, appear, isolated and morally confused in “Dead: Out of Play Though Not Necessarily Out of the Game,” where he momentarily sees an inmate as a fellow human being.

A younger SS officer finds himself disconcerted and alarmed after he is unexpectedly attracted to one of the female inmates when he sees her dancing ballet to the music floating from his office window in “White on White.”

In the camp itself, one of the Sonderkommando, who were in charge of guiding the Jews to be exterminated into the gas chambers, gives “instructions” to a new member of this chosen group on how to survive the camp, in the grim yet spiritually philosophical “On the Other Hand.” Nursery rhymes and children’s songs take on a deadly, mesmerizing meaning in the stunning, award-winning “Lager-Lieder (Camp Songs).”

The true story of Auschwitz-survivor Anna Brunn Ornstein, who was in the camp as a young girl with her mother, is transformed from Anna’s own stories and related in the disturbing yet moving poem “Sofie and Anna.”

Haunting depictions of abusers’ and survivors’ lives after the war appear in works like “Those Who Claim We Hated Them,” where the narrator insists — not always convincingly — that he, his family, and his colleagues held no contempt whatsoever for the Jews, and only did what was politically and morally required of them so that they themselves might survive the Nazi regime and the War.

In the collection’s title work, “Where Lightning Strikes,” a survivor of the camps who now holds a Professorship likens his encounter with contemporary anti-Semitism to a tree’s being struck by lightning: swift, unexpected, brutal, devastating, but terrifyingly and sadly illuminating.

Szeman’s work speaks to us with clarity and resonance. Her themes, though set, in this collection, around the Holocaust, are universal, encompassing the perpetrators’, victims’, and survivors’ perspectives equally insightfully. Though the line-breaks are syllabic — imitating the arbitrary rigidity of the Nazi persecutions as well as of the concentration camps’ operations — the language flows passionately over the artificially imposed line-breaks and formal stanzas. The poems’ many fans often state that, despite the fact that they may have been initially wary of the subject matter, they were enthralled and shaken by poetry which so clearly, simply, and memorably portrays such complex and harrowing events in human history.

Several poems were part of her dissertation, Survivor: One Who Survives (University of Cincinnati, 1986). Along with her non-Holocaust poetry collection, Love in the Time of Dinosaurs, this volume, Where Lightning Strikes, was unanimously accepted for publication by all outside readers of UKA Press in 2004.

As powerful, unsettling, and lyrical as her first novel, The Kommandant’s Mistress, these poems will take you on a compelling, chilling, and unforgettable journey into the lives, hearts, and minds of all those who were victims, perpetrators, and survivors of the Holocaust.

1st Prize (1985), 2nd Prize (1984), Grand Prize (1983) University of Cincinnati’s Elliston Prize (anonymous competition), and awarded The Isabel & Mary Neff Fellowship for Creative Writing (1984-85).

Where Lightning Strikes: Poems on the Holocaust

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Read an excerpt of  three poems, or download a free Sample from Amazon.

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