Writing the Holocaust: Memory, Ethics, & the Limits of Imagination Studio+

Writing the Holocaust: Memory, Ethics, & the Limits of Imagination Studio+

Consider how we might ethically approach the Holocaust in our writing and what it means to write this topic today.

‘To write poetry after Auschwitz,’ wrote Theodor Adorno, ‘is barbaric’. Beginning with Adorno’s oft-quoted words, this course considers what it means to write the Holocaust today. Reading poems by survivors, secondary witnesses, intergenerational inheritors of memory, and others writing about the Holocaust, we will work to understand how to responsibly place our own voices in this history.  

How do we ethically approach the Holocaust as secondary or tertiary witnesses? In what ways can we poetically handle memories that are not ours? How might we use language to approach the unspeakable? What are the limits of imagination when responding to historical trauma? And how do we write the Holocaust in our present moment?  

During this Studio+ course, we will address these and other questions through our own writing and reading from a breadth of historical and contemporary poets responding to the Holocaust, including Paul Celan, Charlotte Delbo, Avraham Sutzkever, Dan Pagis, Denise Leverotv, Charles Reznikoff, Lily Brett, Anne Sexton, Jessica Greenbaum, Erika Meitner, and Ilya Kaminsky, among others.  

This course will also include a Zoom session with a Holocaust survivor, who will speak about their survival and the process of writing in response to the Holocaust. With an increasingly aging population of Holocaust survivors, this is an honoured opportunity to hear a first-hand witness account. 


Studio+ Courses are a new initiative from the Poetry School and feature a portfolio of preliminary reading, alongside 3–4 writing assignments, and some additional bonus features such as Zoom sessions, collaborative projects, and inter-disciplinary work. There are no Live Chats on this course.  

To apply for a concessionary rate, please send relevant documentation showing your eligibility for one of our concessions to [email protected] Conditions of eligibility are detailed here. 

If you have any questions or wish to be added to the waiting list of a sold-out course, please email [email protected] For more information visit our Online Courses page. 

Image credit: Andrea Nardi 

About Anna Veprinska View Profile

Anna Veprinska is the author of Sew with Butterflies: poems (Steel Bananas, 2014) and Empathy in Contemporary Poetry after Crisis (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020), which received Honourable Mention in the Memory Studies Association First Book Award. She is also the author of the poetry chapbook Spirit-clenched (Gap Riot Press, 2020), currently in its second print run. Her poems have been published in international journals and in Not Very Quiet: The Anthology (Recent Work Press, 2021). In 2016-2017 she held a Fellowship at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. She has worked closely with Holocaust survivors to help them write about their experiences. She holds an award-winning PhD from York University and is currently a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto, focusing on poetry in oral Holocaust testimonies. She has taught for York University, Seneca College, and the Poetry School. 

‘I have had a huge number of poems published which I first wrote on Poetry School courses.’

— Spring 2021 survey

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