A Letter to Serafin is a multi-paneled study of juxtapositions and duplicities, where history becomes a living entity, not just a shadowy artifact. Minczeski colors his lines with dark hues of wry comedy and sharp tones of pathos, transcending geography and time by providing testimony on behalf of those who no longer can. This is a vital book for anyone who has ever been transported by a piece of artwork, or haunted by a photograph that projects meaning beyond its borders. If the aim of poetry is to speak the unspeakable, then John Minczeski gives voice to all that goes unsaid between generations.
In his poem “Tour Bus,” John Minczeski writes: “I wanted to break free/and make my own way/to the present world,” but what’s extraordinary is how achingly present and compassionate this accomplished poet is, whether pondering the plight of the October Primrose, or Birkenau’s “few intact barracks turned black under soot and history,” Minczeski takes it all in and brings it back to the page with passion and grace.
—Dorianne Laux, author of Facts About the Moon
A Letter to Serafin is an absolute original . . . [offering] a subtle fusion of forthright plainspeak and a blend of near rhymes and soft cadences. Minczeski is a smart and feeling person who has thought long and deep about time and art, belief and the past, asking questions like: “Why does a great painting affect us as it does?” and “Why does something my grandfather touched touch me as it does?” and “What is it that you and I and a farmer working the dirt in Poland or Sicily or Darfur or Iraq share?”
—John Guzlowski, author of Lightning and Ashes
A Letter to Serafin is a multilayered archeological dig of the author’s pasts—the ancestral past in Poland by way of his great-grandfather Serafin, the mythological past by way of ekphrastic examinations of Medieval paintings, the historical past of Auschwitz by way of a tour through the concentration camps, and the personal pasts that confront him with his own stinging failures and invisibilities made visible.
—Philip Metres, author of To See the Earth