One Family's Passage to America: A Memoir in Verse
Holy Cow Press, 9780983325468, 72pp.
Publication Date: October 30, 2012
In Ekaterinoslav, award-winning author Jane Yolen writes about her father's family journey from a small shtetl in the Ukraine in the early part of the twentieth century, through the Ellis Island portal, to a home in New Haven, Connecticut. Her father, only seven at the time, grew up wholly American and never spoke to her of the family's passage. Here, through these brilliant poems, she pieces together a history of her family.
Her poems are a celebration of passage, of ritual lost and then found, of a family who left a land of custom and arrived at a place of opportunity. As she says in the poem "Round Frame":
All those years Ekaterinoslav
was lost to me, when I could have celebrated
Ukrainian winters, learned words of love,
fashion, passion, paternity;
how to cut the farfl from flat sheets of dough.
All I had was New Haven.
Until she comes to understand with the words of the final poem, "Rebirth"
I have written these
poems as resurrection.
I have molded these words
to reinvent moment and memory.
I have crafted these short lines
for the ones who come after,
my children's children.
For them I've created,
I can do no more.
Jane Yolen, often called the Hans Christian Andersen of America, is the author of over three hundred books, including Owl Moon and The Devil's Arithmetic, many of them prize-winners, including the Jewish Library Association's top honor.
About the Author
Praise For Ekaterinoslav: One Family's Passage to America: A Memoir in Verse…
Jane Yolen, master storyteller of myth and fantasy offers us a different kind of tale this timea compelling, unsentimental family narrative told eloquently in verse. She recreates 'a lifetime, a country, a shtetl' and one family’s circuitous and rocky journey toward the American Dream. In her vivid, poetic resurrection of family, Jane Yolen confirms what I always suspectedthat storytelling is an integral part of her ancestral DNA.”--Mira Bartok, author of The Memory Palace (New York Times bestselling memoir, National Book Critics Circle Award Winner)
What is the hunger, so fundamental, to know the generations long gone who gave birth to us--to know intimately their stories, their pogram heartache, their immigrant pluck? Jane Yolen remembers, imagines, invents her shtetl bubbies and greenhorn zaydies, her bootleg uncles, vividly resurrecting them with insight, vision, compassion, love. We sit at the table wide-eyed, enchanted by her gift inherited from them--the well-told story.”--Merle Feld, author of A Spiritual Life: Exploring the Heart and Jewish Tradition and Finding Words
Jane Yolen’s Ekaterinoslav is a rich salmagundi of speculative autobiography and imagined reminiscence, marinated in compelling verse. The reader is pulled along inexorably with an unforgettable cast of kinfolk through fortune and folly from an 1870s Ukrainian shtetl to Ellis Island. Ekaterinoslav is as beautiful a celebration of lifeand lament for deathas you would expect from one of the world's foremost storytellers.”--J. Patrick Lewis, U.S. Children's Poet Laureate (2011-2013)
When death, 'that old interrupter,' claims Jane Yolen's father, she learns that he was born in Ekaterinoslav, not New Haven and named Wolf, not Will. A poet's job is to turn facts into truths, and Yolen, a master storyteller, does this beautifully in this memoir-in-verse, which brings to life another time and place that no longer exists, but thanks to Yolen, will now never be forgotten. I was mesmerized by these moving, heartfelt poems.”--Lesléa Newman, author of October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard
Jane Yolen’s new work, Ekaterinoslav, is a moving memoir, part family story, part immigrant fable. The strong narrative pull of the poems propels the reader forward wanting to know what will happen next with each personality deftly captured in the sparest descriptions of a few sharp
lines. The shifting mood of the story weaves gracefully through the poems, skillfully translating historical facts and family truths. The final poem offers a personal, powerful conclusion, as Yolen moves from the past to the present using poetry 'to reinvent moment and memory.'”--Sylvia M. Vardell, Ph.D., author of Poetry Aloud Here and The Poetry Teacher's Book of Lists