Meridian Czernowitz: Poetry amongst the dead
Society16:56 Sep. 16, 2016

Poetry amongst the dead

Poets from Europe arrived in Ukrainian Chernivtsi to take part in event, dedicated to Babi Yar massacre

Poets gather in the Jewish Cemetery in the city of Chernivtsi in Western Ukraine. They read their poems amid the graves. The recitals are a part of the seventh poetry festival, called Meridian Czernowitz. This year's event is dedicated to the 75th anniversary of Babi Yar massacres, when more than 33,000 Jews were killed by Nazi Germany in late September 1941.

Watch also: Meridian Czernowitz: Poetry as platform for politics and influencing minds

Max Czollek is a German poet with Jewish background. In his works he focuses on events in the past and how they change history. Some of his poems reflect on the suffering of the Jewish people during the World War 2. To describe his feelings Czollek often uses pretty grim jokes. 

Max Czollek, German poet: It's a curious situation, as a Jew, it's almost like you are always reading on a cemetery, because there is so much destruction in the Jewish history, so for me reading in this cemetery is a bit like a joke, and a bit like a serious thing. Because there is a joke, why do Jews not take painkillers? Answer, well, because the pain could go away. 

Most of the poets admit, they don't want to focus on the past, but rather on what the world has learned from its mistakes. Adi Kessar has come to Ukraine from Israel. She writes about actual issues in the world, such as racism. 

Adi Kessar, poetess from Israel: I think, remembering is important, but we have to ask ourselves, what do we do with the past in the present? Because, there is still a lot of violence in the world, people are murdered for who they are. So I think remembering is not enough, we need to act in the present. 

Read also: Germany considers Ukrainian city of Chernivtsi as one of the literary capitals of the 20th century

Kessar reads her poems in the synagogue in Chernivtsi. Members of the local Jewish community are among the listeners. Rabbi of the city is also here. 

Menachem Glisnshtain, Rabbi Of Chernivtsi: It's not a 75th anniversary or any other year, we experienced it as kids, and we still experience it today. It's not just history, because my parents died during the war. If we remember about it, it gives us hope that nothing like this will ever happen again. 

Both poets and listeners say, so far the world has failed to learn from the mistakes, made in the past. Thousands of innocent still die every day in numerous wars. But they say they will never lose hope for a better future for everyone.  

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