Our Steamer Trunk On Board

By Stanley Mann

88 pages in Hebrew and English
On the cover an actual postcard of the ship on which they returned to the States after a reunion with the family in Europe after the Shoah.
Translations by Oded Peled and Reuven Ben-Yosef
Printed in 2008
Three main qualities characterize Stanley Mann’s poems. First, Simplicity: He looks the reader "straight in the eye," speaking to him directly in a style lacking affectation and phraseology. The reader feels he is speaking to him personally, conversing with him, sharing with him the images of the world he sees. Second, Sincerity: His simplicity is based on purity and perfection. Here we have a poet of intrinsic integrity. The saying, “the art of poetry is deception” cannot be applied in his case. And third, Sensitivity: This is very sensitive, humane poetry, aware of its environment, the physical and human landscape, and observing human beings with deep compassion. With the hand of an artist, with gentle and firm brushstrokes, Stanley Mann paints miniature landscapes filled with nuances that deal with humanity. As an imagist observer and in his modest and restrained manner, he draws nature scenes interwoven with human loss in the beautiful poem “The Autumn Leaf Wet from the Rain Sticks to the Pavement,” or about a blend of nationalities in "Manhattan Along the Evening Subway Route" or the portrait of an eccentric woman on a bus in the poem “She Eats Her Breakfast of Potato Chips.” Yet it is precisely this relative distance between the poet and the objects of his observation that creates his close connection and deep compassion toward those objects. Stanley Mann’s work reaches its moving pinnacle in the expressionist poems which describe his journeys to the large Jewish centers of the pre-World War II era and to the European extermination camps, particularly in the poem “Terezin” and in the long poem which concludes this collection, “We Left for the Airport.” Here personal and collective memory merge, weaving a powerful poem which touches mutual chords of pain in all of us.
And I allow myself to end on a personal note. I can in no way claim objectivity in my judgment of Stanley Mann’s work for the simple reason that I love the man and love his poetry.
Oded Peled



How do you manage to get over it?

A child you never had or a son
lost in the war or one of your
own on that bus where strings
and wires sat and push the body and soul on the busy pavement ­

How do you manage to get over it?

Is it the pine tree that majestically
twists to the sky and you noticed
for the first time - is it the cold air
that was rain washed and seeps
into your scarf - is it a head
shake as you bend over and wash
out the bath tub - is it just words
to someone paid to listen - is it -
Is it - just something you
have to get over - in order to breathe.