The German invasion of the Soviet Union began on June 22, 1941. Over the next four years–from the initial invasion and sweep of the German army through the western Soviet Union, through the siege of Leningrad and the battle for Stalingrad–over 20 million Soviet citizens perished. In Leningrad, a citizen’s daily ration at the height of the siege was a square of bread the size of two fingers.
In Barbarossa, award-winning poet Jonathan Fink presents a collection of sonnets focusing on the individual lives of Leningrad citizens during the first year of the siege, from the initial German invasion of the Soviet Union to the formation of supply routes over the frozen Lake Ladoga. With precise language and breathless power, Fink illuminates the tension, complexity, and singularity of one of most colossal operations of World War II, and the lives it transformed.
Purchase Barbarossa: The German Invasion of the Soviet Union and the Siege of Leningrad
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Praise for Barbarossa: The German Invasion of the Soviet Union and the Siege of Leningrad
“Informed by research itself worth reading, this cinematic collection offers a lyrical recreation of World War II. These well-honed sonnets bring the reader to the razor’s edge of modern history.” – Roger Sedarat, author of Ghazal Games
“This is a remarkable book of poetry, full of heartbreak and haunting beauty and unrestrained power and quiet dignity, keen and precise and unflinchingly tactful in its steely yet fluid rendition of one of humankind’s greatest tragedies. Jonathan Fink has created something utterly unforgettable and unrepeatable: the sheer petrified forest of modern history’s horror made high art.” –Mikhail Iossel, author of Every Hunter Wants to Know
“The vast sweep of History is impossible to grasp without a sense of its details. ‘Be vigilantly slight,’ Jonathan Fink writes, and his sonnets, his ‘little songs,’ give attentive breath to the details—the children, boots, rivers, tanks, ice, ration cards, horses, and fires—of the Siege of Leningrad. The craft of these poems honors their subject. Formal poems have, behind them, a sense of deep time and consideration. They don’t come in a rush. They’re worked, honed, and they ask the reader to consider what is linked by their rhymes, like ‘gun mounts turn’ and the ‘whistle of a bird.’ Fink takes functional titles (‘Colonel Bychevsky, on Being Presented with Paper-Mache Decoys of Guns and Tanks Constructed by the Scenic Artists at the Mariinski Theater’) and explores the human moments they denote. He finds poetry in this war, ‘he puts his palms against / a tank and, gingerly, leans in towards it / as if a giant bird might hatch,’ and rescues history from its sterile catalogues to be viscerally and empathetically experienced.” – Elizabeth Bradfield, author of Approaching Ice and Once Removed