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Slicing the Bread. Children's Survival Manual in 25 Poems
by Maja Trochimczyk
30 pages/25 poems
Finishing Line Press
PO Box 1626,
Georgetown, KY 40324
Preorder Price: $14.00 for a Pre-paid, Reserved Copy
Advance sales copies will ship on October 25, 2014
About the Book:
From the preface:
"This set of 25 non-fiction poems is a testimonial and a monument to untold suffering,
witnessed and experienced by non-Jewish Poles during the war, from the hands of
Germans and Soviets, and after the war, from the oppressive "socialist" regime...If six
million Jews and three million non-Jewish Poles were killed by Germans in Poland,
don't they each deserve at least one poem, one story? If I were born in Warsaw, a city
that lost 700,000 of its inhabitants, shouldn't I at least try to remember some of them?"
Faulkner said the poet's voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of
the pillars which helps him endure and prevail. It is the duty of the poet to convey story,
but it is the art of the poet who can transform our often cruel and brutal history and
affect forever, the way we look and listen to the world. In a poem called "Family Stories",
Maja speaks of Nurse Jolanta who carried a Jewish baby out of the Warsaw Ghetto in a
dark,starless coat. Here, the loss of the world is suddenly condensed to a single image.
Maja brings the Warsaw of her youth and that of her ancestors into vivid and heartbreaking
detail. These are words that will move you to appreciate the simple privileges and necessities
of life. Slicing the Bread is a feast in our universal and ever present famine.
‐Lois P. Jones, Poetry Editor Kyoto Journal, Host of Pacifica Radio's "Poets Cafe,"
winner of the 2012 Tiferet Prize for Poetry.
Maja Trochimczyk's poems about what the Poles suffered both during World War II and The
Cold War afterwards are written with the clarity of truth and the fullness of poetry. If you feel that
you have heard all there is to hear about those troubled times, you will learn in this book that
you haven't. Her poetic mixing of family narrative and the memories of other survivors feels like
the essential stories our own parents told us when they wanted us to know that there were experien-
ces that we must never forget. Here are the stories of how the people she loved experienced hunger
and suffering and terror so strong that it defined them and taught her, and teach us, the meaning
‐Dr. John Z. Guzlowski, Professor Emeritus, Eastern Illinois University, Pulitzer-Prize-nominated
author of Lightning and Ashes about his parents' experiences in Nazi Germany.
"There are poems that we have to write: Poems of witness that grow out of the fading signals of our
histories‐ out of the "screams" lost in a "hum of bees"; the stories carried in the everyday weather
circling this distressed planet. Maja Trochimczyk's new collection of poems, "Slicing the Bread,"
brings the experience of war into shocking, immediate focus. Her weapon: Language at its most
precise and lyrical, understated and piercingly visual. In stanzas as delicate as a Chopin prelude,
we inhabit the terrifying darkness of the world brought to its bloody knees.
"War is hunger," a mother tells her daughter. She boiled honey and tea with weeds and that was lunch for
twenty. She never wants to forget its taste. War is springtime with its soft rain, singing birds, shoots
of green and nothing to eat. War is hiding a squealing pink piglet in a hole; suddenly seeing an unknown
aunt with oddly crooked legs who appears out of nowhere. "Slicing the Bread" will keep us listening to the
crackling voices of an urgent past that‐without the poetry such as this is of Maja Trochimczyk"‐could
be fast growing silent.
‐Georgia Jones-Davis (Blue Poodle, Finishing Line Press)
Maja Trochimczyk's poems draw you into a bestial, almost inconceivable history. Using objects‐bread,
potatoes, trapdoors, high heels‐she guides you through an experience with the madness of World War II
and its aftermath when a dictator is judged worse or better by how many fewer millions he has slaughtered.
This book needed to be written. Trochimczyk doesn't lecture; you are riveted by the power of her poems; their
narratives flow from her hands as if a Babcia were still guiding them. And maybe she was. You will remember the
taste of this book.
‐Sharon Chmielarz (author of Love from the Yellowstone Trail)
About the Author:
MAJA TROCHIMCZYK, Ph.D., is a poet, music historian, photographer, and non-profit director born in Poland
and living in California (www.trochimczyk.net). She published four books on music and two volumes of poems:
Rose Always‐A Court Love Story and Miriam's Iris. She also edited two anthologies of poetry, Chopin with
Cherries and Meditations on Divine Names. Hundreds of Trochimczyk's articles and poems appeared in English,
Polish, as well as in German, French, Chinese, Spanish and Serbian translations. The venues for her poetry have
included: The Loch Raven Review, Epiphany Magazine, Lily Review, Ekphrasis Journal, Quill and Parchment,
Magnapoets, SGVGPQ, The Cosmopolitan Review, The Scream Online, The Original Van Gogh's Ear Anthology,
Journal, Phantom Seed, Poezja Dzisiaj, OccuPoetry, as well as anthologies published by Poets on Site,
Southern California Haiku Study Group, the Altadena Library, and others. Trochimczyk presented papers at over
70 national and international conferences in Poland, France, Germany, Hungary, U.K., Canada, and the U.S. The
Sixth Poet Laureate of Sunland-Tujunga (2010-2012), Trochimczyk is also a non-profit director, the Communications
Director for the Polish American Historical Association, and a member of Westside Women Writers, Village Poets,
and other organizations. She received fellowships and awards from the American Council of Learned Societies, Social
Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, USC, McGill University, MPE Fraternity, Polish American Historical
Association, City and County of Los Angeles, and Poland's Ministry of Culture.
From the Book:
1. Slicing the Bread
by Maja Trochimczyk
Her mother's hunger. One huge pot of hot water
with some chopped weeds‐komesa, lebioda‐
she taught her to recognize their leaves,
just in case‐plus a spoonful of flour,
for flavor. Lunch for twenty people
crammed into a two-bedroom house.
The spring was the worst‐flowers, birdsong,
and nothing to eat. You had to wait
for the rye and potatoes to grow. The pantry
was empty. She was hungry. Always hungry.
She ate raw wheat sometimes. Too green,
The kernels she chewed‐still milky‐made her sick.
Thirty years after the war,
her mother stashed paper bags with sliced, dried bread
on top shelves in her Warsaw kitchen.
Twenty, thirty bags...enough food for a month.
Don't ever throw any bread away, her mother said.
Remember, war is hunger.
Every week, her mother ate dziad soup‐
fit for a beggar, made with crumbled wheat buns,
stale sourdough loaves, pieces of dark rye
soaked in hot tea with honey.
She liked it. She wanted to remember