November 8, 2012

Why I Write, Sometimes….

 Guest Blogger: Missy Wick, Straw Dog Founding Member


I grew up in the wake of the Holocaust. The walls of my friend’s split-level homes were covered with sepia toned photographs. Men in dark suits and ties, white shirts, and beards stared with authority from their wooden chairs. Women in long dresses, adorned with lace and pleats, rested the palms of their hands on the men’s shoulders, their mouths flat – not even a hint of a smile. My friends said, “They all went to a camp.”

When I was little, I pictured my summer day camp where a wide expanse of green lawn was threaded with maple, oak, and mimosa trees. Soon enough I learned the names Buchenwald and Auschwitz, where there was no green, just stone dust gray.


Survivors of the purge, like Mr. K., migrated to our community of Eastern European Jews piled between two canals on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean. Mr. K. had escaped two concentration camps. The first time he was caught and sent back to build bombs. The second round he was free. When Mr. K. returned to his village he found that every person he had ever loved was gone. It was, I once heard him say, as if his life had never existed.

Sometimes I write because, like today, the sepia toned ghosts of elders and the sound of Mr. K’s voice, his accent, how one sound slurred into another, are so vibrant, so loud, I have to dosomething with them. Perhaps I am bearing witness to the injustice of their lives. Or maybe, as George Orwell said in his classic essay “Why I Write,” I am simply driven by sheer egoism -the desire to be clever or talked about. Maybe “why” does not matter, for in the end, the words are proof that life exists.


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