This essay was written in 2007 and has remained unpublished until now.

by Ludiew E. Sarceb

Few of the contemporary poets with whom I am familiar have any profound sense of history (and, therefore, of our present moment), nor do they strive after exacting literary standards. I live in a time when both poets and publishers extol the spontaneous, the sensational, the confessional, the personal, the idiosyncratic, and disregard anything that smacks of order, clarity, coherence, and universality. However, not everyone is this dogmatic. One of the writers of the New Millennium, who doesn’t go lemming-like after such neoromantic inanities, is the American writer Leo Yankevich, who has at least a moderate interest in the great panorama of time and some thought about the structure of English verse. He is, therefore, one of the few living writers whose work I can analyze sympathetically.

His interests, as far as I can tell, seem to run the gamut of those occasions or individuals that dovetail into his own experiences, one of which is being an American in Europe, and also like Ezra Pound (1885-1972), being imprisoned; in his case, by the Polish communist security forces. In his poem “Ezra Pound Enters the Tent,” Yankevich neatly captures the energy of the early Modernist poet’s forceful personality in a sonnet with a unique rhyme scheme, abcdabcdfggfhh. It is the opening four lines I think the best, where he describes Pound’s incarceration at the end of World War II.

“No, this is not a station in the metro,
this is an open cage outside of Pisa.
Ezra Pound now sits inside of it,
his beard a burning bush of grief made new.”

What I admire about this quatrain are its simplicity of diction, its reference to Pound’s imagist poem of 1916, the italianate iambic pentameter of the first two lines, the contrasts of “outside/inside” and the Parisian subway with “an open cage,” the fine alliterative, biblically descriptive image of line 4 [Pound always did think of himself as a prophet of sorts], and the echo of Pound’s manifesto “make it new” neatly transformed into “grief made new.” No, the situation Pound found himself in after World War II was not a station in the Metro, as Yankovich points out, nor was meant to be, as Eliot’s Prufrock might have said.

Because of his own incarceration and his country of choice [He now lives in Gliwice in southern Poland.], Yankevich considers deeply those who had to face the horrors of the communist prison camps in “Naftaly Aronovich Frenkel.” Part III, the last section of that poem, tersely concludes:

“And when I look down at the crimson map
I see the countless trains in permafrost,
and I see Frenkel, the star on his cap
above the twenty million who were lost.

I hear the broken Russian in each command;
The pillars and barracks rise up from the page
of the great Atlas, and I understand
the architecture of that place and age.”

The most important idea these stanzas hold is the murdering of “twenty million” by the communists. That number staggers the mind; and part of Yankevich’s purpose in the poem is to not let us forget such atrocities. Contrasted against such vast numbers is one of the notorious architects of the gulag system Naftaly Frenkel (1883-after 1960), who is “above” with the communist “star on his cap.” In Yankevich’s picture, he himself looks “down at the crimson map,” symbolically the color of communist ideologues and the blood they exacted from so many. The rhyme scheme of the two stanzas is the usual abab; but the meter alters. The opening line can forcibly be read as an iambic pentameter, but the word down fights against it. Lines 2 and 4 are iambic pentameters, but line 3, with Frenkel in it, recoils against such regularity and pushes toward a dactyllic tetrameter, a common occurrence in early 19th century poetry in English. That same metrical meltdown occurs in the second of these two stanzas. In line 5 of Part III, the broken Russian breaks the meter just as it breaks in on in each command; line 6 is decidedly dactyllic tetrameter; while the first half of line 7 haltingly slows to a spodaic step, stop. The rest of the stanza, which is the abstract lesson the narrator mastered, moves on alliteratively, assonantally, and iambically. As “the great Atlas” held the world on his shoulders, Earth too has a great burden to bear.

Yankevich is rarely so metrically or rhythmically concise. Sometimes even the rhymes disappear, and the syntax flounders, as in his poem “The Last Silesian,” where the pathos of the situation breaks even the artist’s ability to deal with it. The poem’s setting is “60 years/ since Gleiwitz-Petersdorf was ‘liberated.'”

“Anne, a frail and tiny woman of eighty,
and the last Silesian on our street,
points her left hand toward the frozen ground
and rests her right upon a walking stick.

—’When Stalin’s army came, the NKVD
tortured, raped, and murdered our people.
Both of my parents were among the dead
buried here inside a mass grave.’—

In her sad voice there are hints of dialect.
—’Later on, Poles from the east exhumed them,
planted trees, and built this lovely park.’—
The dialect of the dead, and the vanquished.”

Leo Yankevich, an immigrant to the Upper Silesian city of around 200,000, and with a metropolis of about 2,000,000, is there to record in unadorned language one individual’s anguish. When one thinks of the hundreds of thousands of stories one could relate, one hardly knows where to begin.
Yet Yankevich is not only the poet of the defeated, the dying, or the depressed.

In “Eastertide” Yankevich takes a quick, small snapshot of his adopted city Gliwice at a decidedly happier moment.

“A sudden brightness. Call it day.
Rooks above the cathedral, and clouds
a thousand shades of morning grey,
while underneath: the coiling crowds
bear their pastries and precious fruit.
The cobble-stones shimmer in the rain
as ‘glory glory’ the bells bruit
past the sinners along the lane.”

Though Yankevich uses an exact rhyme scheme here, ababcdcd, his brief visual epiphany is not without relaxed syntax, as, for example, phrases standing as sentences, particularly nouns without verbs.

Nor does his awareness of political occurrences in time keep him from metaphysical events on the ground. In “Kant’s Shadow,” Yankevich writes,

“It stalked him to the end of fear,
like clockwork, down each Gothic street
of Königsberg, as if it knew
precisely when their hands would meet.”

This is not the vague, rather oracular phrasing of T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) in The Wasteland, though fear and shadow are likewise linked in Eliot’s poem,

“And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”

though there is in “Kant’s Shadow” the vague adjectival pronoun their, which refers to what or whom I am not sure. The poem itself is about that “clockwork” precision the late Enlightement philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) was noted for; people could set their clocks by his walks down the streets of Königsberg. Here the poem’s iambic tetrameter and brevity give the work a ticking quality. For me, it indirectly draws attention to one of those bizarre political effects of the cruel redrawing of eastern Europe after World War II, which made that strange, separated, little island of Russian territory around former Königsberg, now called Kaliningrad.

Another philosophical walk of Yankevich’s is his poem entitled “Philosopher.” This is a sonnet for Czesław Miłosz (1911-2004), the Polish poet and 1980 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. Structurally this is the place where Yankevich and I cross paths; for one of the things I have been working on for several decades is a syllabic poetry in English, though I have been blocked by publishers every step of the way. This has been a frustrating experience for me, that is, to have been relegated to the ash heap of history, even before I have been published. Be that as it may, it has not halted me; for I understood early many artists are ignored by contemporaries and posterity. This has been the fate of many poets since the time of Homer.

In his sonnet to Miłosz, Yankevich uses a thirteen-syllable line, that line used by figures, such as Polish poets Jan Kochanowski (1530-1584) and Adam Mickiewicz (1798-1855), German odist and sonneteer Georg Weckerlin (1584-1683) Russian classicist Vasily Trediakovsky (1703-1769), and more modern writers, like Cesare Pavese (1908-1950). In her poem “Poetry,” even the American Modernist Marianne Moore (1887-1972) works with thirteen-syllable lines at the ends of her structured stanzas (except for perhaps a change in the final stanza, depending on pronunciation). Here Yankevich, writing to a man who left Poland and came to America for a time, addresses the more feted writer, in English and from a Polish literary perspective.
The poem opens in perfectly suited thirteeners,

“For a moment as brief and long as eternity
he sees what the blind man sees in the blink of an eye…”

but soon falls into broken sentences, phrases, and even words.

____________________________“As if in a dream,
he walks amid universals, essences of names,
and marvels at the beauty of birds, the snowflakes teem-
ing through the ethereal windows of souls, and the flames…”

and it is that brokenness in tone, meaning, and structure that pervades the poem. From the octave in an ababcdcd rhyme scheme, Yankevich proceeds to an defdef pattern, where he directly mentions or alludes to Jesus, Heraclitus, and Plato. The poem ends on a note of discord,

“He has climbed out of the phantasmical cave for good,
martyred by what rills in the blood, no longer bothered
by those in fetters—yet part of the natural crime.”

There is also discord in “Sarajevo Sonnet,” where Yankevich uses a shorter line and an Italian octave to present the typical nature-continues-beyond-war theme, as, for example, in Sara Teasdale’s (1884-1933) “There Will Come Soft Rains” or Herman Melville’s (1819-1891) “Shiloh.”

“Within the four walls of this sonnet’s form
(while outside spring rain gathers in a pail),
there is at least one happy story to tell,
something lovely brought on by a storm.

But here the sonnet’s natural break does not occur between the octave and the sestet, with its cddcee rhyme scheme, but after the first quatrain, as if the story Yankevich has to tell requires a greater length than a sestet could hold.

“Fresh thrifts have sprouted, and a fat worm
lazily crawls out of someone’s cracked bell,
crawls out of the centre of someone’s hell,
out of a skull atop a uniform,
while not too far away, in someone’s rib cage,
in a sunlit temple without a steeple,
two tiny beetles in the place of people,
(their love too pure to ever turn into rage,
too tried and true to ever fail or falter),—
take their vows before a priestless altar.”

Incongruous ideas yoked together (e.g., “a fat worm…crawls…out of a skull atop a uniform) are reminiscent of Metaphysical imagery, while the little environmental tale of diminutive creatures has Romantic/Victorian overtones of sentimentality (“their love too pure…too tried and true to ever fail or falter”), as does the ostentatious alliteration (“two tiny beetles in the place of people”).

Another Polish poet infuses his poem “The Moment,” which Yankevich models after the Polish poet Leopold Staff (1878-1957); but the abstract ratiocination is not easily followed, as I think the first stanza demonstrates.

“What matter that it’s passing? That it passes?
Moments exist if only to pass by,
Hardly mine, no longer anyone else’s,
Like cloudy masterpieces in the sky.”

However, at times his language is accurate, acute, and laconic, as in his excellent quatrain on Dylan Thomas (1914-1953),

“Although a sea of whisky filled each lung,
he would have called out from beneath a wave
just to console the living, but his tongue
was heavy as a stone inside the grave.”

where, in an abab rhyme scheme, he precisely and poignantly describes the Welsh poet in quick, masterly strokes, four flawless iambic pentameters, revealing that, at moments, Yankevich can “sing in his chains like the sea.”



Ludiew E. Sarceb is a poet living in Washington State.

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48 Responses

  1. Joseph Charles MacKenzie

    Please forgive me if I say that, pretty as many of the thoughts and sophisticated juxtapositions may be in the poems here cited, there is one thing that absolutely binds and fetters the poetry to absolute modernism: The total absence of Christ.

    I am seeing a nostalgia for a time, a place, a circumstance, a war which, unless the poet is ancient, could only be a borrowed nostalgia.

    Why should poetry wallow in the mire of the 20th century, the very lowest point in the whole history of civilization? This is a case where the poet’s erudition may not rescue him.

    Borrowing Dylan’s morbidity does not rescue him either. It reminds me of 16th-century Protestant morbidity.

    So the question is this: How does any of it nourish?

    • Charles Southerland

      Oh, I don’t know, J.C., I am left to wonder if the Spanish Inquisition, (so called) might possibly have rivaled the Communist genocide of the 20th century. It might be that the 16th century’s Protestant morbidity was related to the Inquisitors back in the day where Christ was placed first and foremost by the Holy Church of Rome. It seems the goals of the Commies and the rabid everyday Catholic Holy See were pretty much the same: Kill the unbeliever, take his ground and possessions. What good is power if one doesn’t wield it every now and then?

      • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

        Is see that Mr. Southerland has a caricatural view of history. Unfortunate in the context of poetry.

        Perhaps Mr. Yankevich himself would like to enlighten him on the subject of communism—as this important poet has a profound understanding of it which, as it happens, is one of the many virtues of his work. Certainly a poet faithful to Polish tradition would have a thing or two to say about communism’s genocidal policies against Catholics throughout the 20th century.

        As for the Spanish Inquisition, its records are all perfectly open and available at the library of the University of Salamanca. They reveal that the masonic Republic of Texas has killed more people by far in its 172 year history than the Inquisition in its three salutary centuries that liberated Spain from the very evil that encumbers our society today.

        But now that Mr. Sutherland’s himself has chosen to expose his corn-fed Puritan mindset before the entire world, I suspect that mere facts will little serve to rectify his emotion-based fable.

  2. Margaret O'Driscoll

    Very interesting essay, been a fan of Yankevich’s poetry since I came across it a few years ago.

    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      I am also a fan, and find the essay very well-written, indeed.

      But I still question whether poetry needs to be perpetually “haunted” by the shades of Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot, the very enemies of poetry, and of civilization.

      I say this because, ironically, none of the modersnist poets of the abysmal 20th century could hold a candle to Leo Yankevich.

      And I am always disappointed poets, even those of great genius, who carry on as if Charles Péguy never existed at all—or Blessed Joseph Mary Plunkett, for that matter, and countless others.

      Are we, as poets, to participate in liberalism’s rewriting of history to the absolute exclusion of our great Catholic poets.

      But I think there must be more to Yankevich than this fine essay is telling us. so, I am reading the essay as an invitation.

  3. Joseph Charles MacKenzie

    Mr. Sarceb, I wonder if you could give us in some future postings maybe a little more than a “coup d’oeil” regarding Leo Yankevich. I very much enjoyed the present essay, but might not have a true picture of the poet from its brevity.

    My question is:

    Does Yankevich, anywhere in his vast oeuvre, give us more than the bleakness of the 20th-century sprinkled with a few lights here and there, but is he also able to give us its antidote in Christian revelation or spirituality?

  4. Sally Cook

    In general:

    I believe that Leo Yankevich is a great 20th century poet; so much more so than Eliot and Pound. And I often wonder what Eliot’s work might have been had he not had Pound as his editor. The problem with both of them, I believe, is their dead, dry view of life.

    I have to say that poetry is akin to love, which no amount of knowledge can generate.

    There is a lot of romantic fluff floating around out there; there are also a number of dead sticks proclaiming to the heavens. Perhaps Jesus and the saints don’t take either quite as seriously as we do. A little humility please, on everyone’s part. Let’s look for the essence and try to preserve it.

    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      Sally Cook has stated the case perfectly. The “dead dry view of life” which is the essence of 20th-century modernism, is not a ball and chain we need to shackle ourselves to and drag all the way through our own century.

      One has only to open the pages of and given issue of TRINACRIA to discover a very edifying reality: A fair number of today’s American lyric poets surpass Eliot and Pound.

      In practice, I believe the time has come for us to quote each other, rather than continuing to give credence to the worst elements of literary history. The next poet I cite “en exergue” is going to be a contemporary lyric poet of the Ars Poetica Nova.

      Our time has come. Leo Yankevich’s time has come (and I would love to see him step into that time—we can’t live in the war-torn 20th century forever without doing serious spiritual damage to ourselves).

  5. Leo Yankevich

    Bruce Dale Wise wrote this. “Whiskey” is misspelled in the poem on Dylan Thomas. I use British spelling. It should be “whisky.”

    I have never liked the essay, but the only bad publicity is none. Wise makes too many references to himself and his failures in getting published.

    “The Moment” is a translation, not my poem. Wise is too stupid to realize this. He is cowardly to publish this under a pseudonym.

    • Leo Yankevich

      Also, the formatting in “Sarajevo Sonnet” is wrong. Get it right:
      Again, Bruce Dale Wise illustrates why he is only a high school teacher in a one horse town in Washington state.

      Sarajevo Sonnet

      Within the four walls of this sonnet’s form
      (while outside spring rain gathers in a pail) ,
      there is at least one happy story to tell,
      something lovely brought on by a storm.

      Fresh thrifts have sprouted, and a fat worm
      lazily crawls out of someone’s cracked bell,
      crawls out of the centre of someone’s hell,
      out of a skull atop a uniform,

      while not too far away, in someone’s rib cage,
      in a sunlit temple without a steeple,
      two tiny beetles in the place of people,

      (their love too pure to ever turn into rage,
      too tried and true to ever fail or falter) , —
      take their vows before a priestless altar.

      • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

        Antoni Julian Nowowiejski, (1858–1941 KL Soldau), bishop,
        Leon Wetmański, (1886–1941 KL Działdowo), bishop,
        Władysław Goral, (1898–1945 KL Sachsenhausen), bishop,
        Adam Bargielski, priest from Myszyniec (1903–1942 KZ Dachau),
        Aleksy Sobaszek, priest (1895–1942 KL Dachau),
        Alfons Maria Mazurek, Carmelite friar, prior, priest (1891–1944, shot by the Gestapo),
        Alojzy Liguda, Society of the Divine Word, priest (1898–1942 KL Dachau),
        Anastazy Jakub Pankiewicz, Franciscan friar, priest (1882–1942 KL Dachau),
        Anicet Kopliński, Capuchin friar of German descent, priest in Warsaw (1875–1941),
        Antoni Beszta-Borowski, priest, dean of Bielsk Podlaski (1880–1943, shot near Bielsk Podlaski),
        Antoni Leszczewicz, Marian Father, priest (1890–1943, burnt to death in Rosica, Belarus),
        Antoni Rewera, priest, dean of the Cathedral Chapter in Sandomierz (1869–1942 KL Dachau),
        Antoni Świadek, priest from Bydgoszcz (1909–1945 KL Dachau),
        Antoni Zawistowski, priest (1882–1942 KL Dachau),
        Bolesław Strzelecki, priest (1896–1941 KL Auschwitz),
        Bronisław Komorowski, priest (1889–22 March 1940 KL Stutthof),
        Dominik Jędrzejewski, priest (1886–1942 KL Dachau),
        Edward Detkens, priest (1885–1942 KL Dachau),
        Edward Grzymała, priest (1906–1942 KL Dachau),
        Emil Szramek, priest (1887–1942 KL Dachau),
        Fidelis Chojnacki, Capuchin friar, priest (1906–1942, KL Dachau),
        Florian Stępniak, Capuchin friar, priest (1912–1942 KL Dachau),
        Franciszek Dachtera, priest (1910–23 August 1942 KL Dachau),
        Franciszek Drzewiecki, Orionine Father, priest (1908–1942 KL Dachau), from Zduny, he was condemned to heavy work in the plantation of Dachau. While he was bending over tilling the soil, he adored the consecrated hosts kept in a small box in front of him. While he was going to the gas chamber, he encouraged his companions, saying “We offer our life for God, for the Church and for our Country.”
        Franciszek Rogaczewski, priest from Gdańsk (1892–1940, shot in Stutthof or in Piaśnica, Pomerania).
        Franciszek Rosłaniec, priest (1889–1942 KL Dachau).
        Henryk Hlebowicz, priest (1904–1941, shot at Borisov in Belarus).
        Henryk Kaczorowski, priest from Włocławek (1888–1942).
        Henryk Krzysztofik, religious priest (1908–1942 KL Dachau).
        Hilary Paweł Januszewski, religious priest (1907–1945 KL Dachau).
        Jan Antonin Bajewski, Conventual Franciscan friar, priest (1915–1941 KL Auschwitz); of Niepokalanow. These were the closest collaborators of St Maximilian Kolbe in the fight for God’s cause and together suffered and helped each other spiritually in their offering their lives at Auschwitz.
        Jan Franciszek Czartoryski, Dominican friar, priest (1897–1944).
        Jan Nepomucen Chrzan, priest (1885–1942 KL Dachau).
        Jerzy Kaszyra, Marian Father, priest (1910–1943, burnt to death in Rosica, Belarus).
        Józef Achilles Puchała, Franciscan friar, priest (1911–1943, killed near Iwieniec, Belarus).
        Józef Cebula, Missionary Oblate, priest (23 March 1902–9 May 1941 KL Mauthausen).
        Józef Czempiel, priest (1883–1942 KL Mauthausen).
        Józef Innocenty Guz, Franciscan friar, priest (1890–1940 KL Sachsenhausen),
        Józef Jankowski, Pallotine, priest, (1910 born in Czyczkowy near Brusy, Kashubia (died 16 October 1941 in KL Auschwitz beaten by kapo),
        Józef Kowalski, Salesian, priest (1911–1942),
        Józef Kowalski, priest beaten to death on 3 July 1942 in the KL Auschwitz concentration camp,
        Józef Kurzawa, priest (1910–1940)
        Józef Kut, priest (1905–1942 KL Dachau),
        Józef Pawłowski, priest (1890–9 January 1942 KL Dachau),
        Józef Stanek, Pallottine, priest (1916–23 September 1944, murdered in Warsaw),
        Józef Straszewski, priest (1885–1942 KL Dachau),
        Karol Herman Stępień, Franciscan friar, priest (1910–1943, killed near Iwieniec, Belarus),
        Kazimierz Gostyński, priest (1884–1942 KL Dachau),
        Kazimierz Grelewski, priest (1907–1942 KL Dachau),
        Kazimierz Sykulski, priest (1882–1942 KL Auschwitz),
        Krystyn Gondek, Franciscan friar, priest (1909–1942 KL Dachau),
        Leon Nowakowski, priest (1913–1939),
        Ludwik Mzyk, Society of the Divine Word, priest (1905–1940),
        Ludwik Pius Bartosik, Conventual Franciscan friar, priest (1909–1941 KL Auschwitz); of Niepokalanow. These were the closest collaborators of St Maximilian Kolbe in the fight for God’s cause and together suffered and helped each other spiritually in their offering their lives at Auschwitz,
        Ludwik Roch Gietyngier, priest from Częstochowa (1904–1941 KL Dachau),
        Maksymilian Binkiewicz, priest (1913–24 July 1942, beaten, died in KL Dachau),
        Marian Gorecki, priest (1903–22 March 1940 KL Stutthof),
        Marian Konopiński, Capuchin friar, priest (1907–1 January 1943 KL Dachau),
        Marian Skrzypczak, priest (1909–1939 shot in Plonkowo),
        Michał Oziębłowski, priest (1900–1942 KL Dachau),
        Michał Piaszczyński, priest (1885–1940 KL Sachsenhausen),
        Michał Woźniak, priest (1875–1942 KL Dachau),
        Mieczysław Bohatkiewicz, priest (1904–4 March 1942, shot in Berezwecz),
        Narcyz Putz, priest (1877–1942 KL Dachau),
        Narcyz Turchan, priest (1879–1942 KL Dachau),
        Piotr Edward Dankowski, priest (1908–3 April 1942 KL Auschwitz),
        Roman Archutowski, priest (1882–1943 KL Majdanek),
        Roman Sitko, priest (1880–1942 KL Auschwitz),
        Stanisław Kubista, Society of the Divine Word, priest (1898–1940 KL Sachsenhausen),
        Stanisław Kubski, priest (1876–1942, prisoner in KL Dachau, killed in Hartheim near Linz),
        Stanisław Mysakowski, priest (1896–1942 KL Dachau),
        Stanisław Pyrtek, priest (1913–4 March 1942, shot in Berezwecz),
        Stefan Grelewski, priest (1899–1941 KL Dachau),
        Wincenty Matuszewski, priest (1869–1940),
        Władysław Błądziński, Michaelite, priest (1908–1944, KL Gross-Rosen),
        Władysław Demski, priest (1884–28 May 1940, KL Sachsenhausen),
        Władysław Maćkowiak, priest (1910–4 March 1942 shot in Berezwecz),
        Władysław Mączkowski, priest (1911–20 August 1942 KL Dachau),
        Władysław Miegoń, priest, commandor lieutenant (1892–1942 KL Dachau),
        Włodzimierz Laskowski, priest (1886–1940 KL Gusen),
        Wojciech Nierychlewski, religious, priest (1903–1942, KL Auschwitz),
        Zygmunt Pisarski, priest (1902–1943),
        Zygmunt Sajna, priest (1897–1940, shot at Palmiry, near Warsaw),
        Brunon Zembol, friar (1905–1942 KL Dachau),
        Grzegorz Bolesław Frąckowiak, friar (1911–1943, guillotined in Dresden),
        Józef Zapłata, friar (1904–1945 KL Dachau),
        Marcin Oprządek, friar (1884–1942 KL Dachau),
        Piotr Bonifacy Żukowski, friar (1913–1942 KL Auschwitz),
        Stanisław Tymoteusz Trojanowski, friar (1908–1942 KL Auschwitz),
        Symforian Ducki, friar (1888–1942 KL Auschwiitz),
        Alicja Jadwiga Kotowska, a nun killed in 1939 in the mass murders in Piaśnica,
        Alicja Maria Jadwiga Kotowska, sister (1899–1939, executed at Piaśnica, Pomerania),
        Ewa Noiszewska, sister (1885–1942, executed at Góra Pietrelewicka near Slonim, Belarus),
        Julia Rodzińska, Dominican sister (1899–20 February 1945, KL Stutthof); she died having contracted typhoid serving the Jewish women prisoners in a hut for which she had volunteered,
        Katarzyna Celestyna Faron (1913–1944, KL Auschwitz); (1913–1944), had offered her life for the conversion of an Old Catholic bishop Władysław Faron (no relation). She was arrested by the Gestapo and condemned to Auschwitz camp. She put up heroically with all the abuses of the camp and died on Easter Sunday 1944. The bishop later returned to the Catholic Church),
        Maria Antonina Kratochwil, SSND nun (1881–1942) died as a result of the torture she endured while imprisoned in Stanisławów,
        Maria Klemensa Staszewska, (1890–1943 KL Auschwitz),
        Marta Wołowska, (1879–1942, executed at Góra Pietrelewicka near Slonim, Belarus),
        Mieczysława Kowalska, sister (1902–1941, Soldau concentration camp in Działdowo),
        Bronisław Kostkowski, alumnus (1915–1942 KL Dachau),
        Czesław Jóźwiak (1919–1942, guillotined in a prison in Dresden),
        Edward Kaźmierski (1919–1942, guillotined in a prison in Dresden),
        Edward Klinik (1919–1942, guillotined in a prison in Dresden),
        Franciszek Kęsy (1920–1942, guillotined in a prison in Dresden),
        Franciszek Stryjas (1882–31 July 1944, Kalisz prison),
        Jarogniew Wojciechowski (1922–1942, guillotined in a prison in Dresden),
        Marianna Biernacka (1888–13 July 1943), executed instead of her pregnant daughter-in-law, offered her life for her unborn grandchild
        Natalia Tułasiewicz (1906–31 March 1945, died in KL Ravensbrück),
        Stanisław Starowieyski (1895–13 April 1941 KL Dachau),
        Tadeusz Dulny, alumnus (1914–1942 KL Dachau),

        Módl się za nas!

  6. Ludiew E. Sarceb

    1. I am so happy Mr. Yankovich has now responded to my essay, which I sent to him a decade ago, when he would not respond. In retrospect, I wish he had responded to me back then and pointed out all the problems with my essay, and I could have corrected them then.

    2. Mr. Yankovich is correct. I do seem to have used the American spelling of whiskey instead of the British spelling whisky; and Mr. Mantyk may change the spelling if he is so inclined.

    3. Mr. Yankovich is also correct I do make far too many references to myself. I am embarrassed about that. That was a decade ago, and I couldn’t get a poem or an essay published anywhere. At that time I hadn’t yet realized that I, as a person, do not matter that much. That is one of the reasons I created my charichords (anagrammatic heteronyms), just the letters of my name scrambled.

    4. I suppose it makes me a coward, because I use anagrammatic heteronyms. These days I have found that many of my publishers do not want me to use the heteronyms; however, I am happy that many do; and some even allow me (unlike Mr. Manyk) to supply concomitant bios, which are true, but focus on one aspect of my apparently craven character.

    5. Mr. Yankovich is also correct. I was too stupid to realize “The Moment” is a translation, when I thought he was “modeling the Polish poet Leopold Staff.”

    6. Mr Yankovich is correct again. In the essay, the formatting of “Sarajevo Sonnet” was altered. I am thankful he has so kindly supplied the sonnet in case, so everyone interested can see his sonnet in its true glory.

    7. And finally, Mr. Yankevich is also correct about me being only a high school teacher in a one horse town in Washington state. And I don’t have the horse.

    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      There are at least two things I can think of in which Mr. Yankevich is not correct: His lack of charity, and his lack of truth. These things are as one.

      The “Sarajevo Sonnet” is by far the worst I have ever read, technically speaking and on every other level. It ends with a Disney cartoon: two computer generated bugs dressed in wedding clothes exchanging vows.

      I have looked into Mr. Yankevich’s poetry as a result of this posting. I find that it is almost always morbid, generally dark, absolutely depressing, and cynical. The phoned-in word juxtapositions are nothing more than an old surrealist trick I have seen many times before.

      Mr. Yankevich’s cynicism would conjure Molière’s Misanthrope was it not for the fact that Alceste at least possessed elegance of speech.

      Mr. Yankevich has also revealed in this very thread that he keeps decade-long grudges, prides himself on turning what he supposes to be a witty insult, is not discrete in his dealing with others, and is completely unmoved by a list of Polish martyrs I presented here for the explicit purpose of discovering who he really is.

      Sally Cook is right. Mr. Yankevich is a great 20th-century poet. But he is a 20th-century poet whose poetry is haunted by Hitlers and socialists and massacres and mass graves and battlefields and rotting corpses. The décor, in other words, of modernism and postmodernism. Curious that anyone would willingly make this his internal universe. The Old Poetry is the real rotting corpse in this picture.

      Admirably, Mr. Yankevich uses the pseudo-intellectual language of modernism to advantage, like the role of expatriate—the gullible like it because it makes them feel “intellectual” too. “Très chic, très moderne,” one might boast, like Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”—no more a painting, alas, than “Sarajevo Sonnet” is a sonnet.

      Indeed, I would go much further than Sally Cook. For me, Mr. Yanekvich is the perfect 20th-century poet. In a YouTube interview he denies the divinity of Christ and posits the existence of “superior beings” out there—the usual echo of liberalism’s contempt and scorn for the human person. It doesn’t get any more 20th-century than that, now does it?

      Realize: There is not one shred of difference between the godless left and the godless right. Both have liberalism as their framework.

      In a list of personal influences in an interview, Mr. Yankevich gives Baudelaire (undoubtedly the modernist and not the Catholic version) as his only French poet. One suspects that La Fontaine’s smile would be beneath him. Corneille would certainly be inaccessible. Not one Italian influence listed—and the poetry shows it! This is not a poet of Western European culture. This is a Hegelian Germanic, no different at all from Poland’s worst oppressors.

      Mr. Wise, you made only one mistake in your essay. You failed to adore. For, it would seem that Mr. Yankevich, to judge by his reaction to your essay, is truly in need of worshippers. The proof is that he has so many of them. If you two are friends, I pity you sincerely.

      By the way, none of us are Quattrocento Florentines or Grand Siècle Parisians. Farrell, Pennsylvania isn’t exactly the palpitating center of international culture, now is it? And was it not for Holy Church, Poland would be a province of either Germany or Russia.

      Better to be a teacher without a horse in Washington, than a human being anywhere who lacks the one and only refinement that makes one truly cosmopolitan…

      …and that is charity, the hallmark of truth.

      • Leo Yankevich

        Joseph Charles MacKenzie ,

        I was certainly charitable when I published your amateurish, poorly scanned sonnet at the Pennsylvania Review, in which you, a pious “Christian,” called women whores and showed the dead of Manchester no respect.

        Yes, I can be very uncharitable…

      • Leo Yankevich


        Does Jesus count his martyrs,
        the priests who died at Dachau?
        Or, as they burn, ask how
        They lived? Me thinks he barters

        their cloistered, childless lives
        to save an altar boy,
        for sodomy’s the joy
        of men who have no wives.

        And yet MacKenzie weeps
        for those who raped rear-ends,
        and never comprehends
        that hell is full of creeps.

        28 July 2017

  7. Leo Yankevich

    Actually I did answer you, Bruce. I told you the decision to publish the essay was up to David Castleman, my co-editor at the time. He rejected it. That was 2007.

    My surname is Yankevich, not Yankovich.

    You don’t have a horse, but you probably look like one.

  8. Ludiew E. Sarceb

    Forgive my satiric spelling.
    I know no Mister Castleman.
    Your answer is truly telling.
    I look rather like a Houyhnhnm.

  9. Morgan Downs

    Very discouraging that grown men on the one more or less open forum for traditional poetry cannot discuss one another’s work without descending into worse than childish behavior. Other than Sally Cook and maybe someone else, someone probably with a smaller reputation and ego than the other figures involved, every comment here is either a personal vendetta or a pretentious tirade. This is in fact a more or less routine occurrence on this site’s comment section.
    There is more than enough difficulty getting exposure for traditional poetry in our world without its own ostensible representatives making a mockery of it by their own immature behavior.

  10. James Sale

    I think that Bruce Dale Wise article has done an important service, whatever its flaws (though personally I like his contributions), and that is it has certainly alerted me – an insular Brit – to the work of Leo Yankevich and I shall be looking out for more. I think Morgan also makes an excellent point. We should comment on and debate about philosophy, theology, aesthetics, poetics and the poems themselves, but personal attacks are not justified. It saddens me that fine poets working within a formalist tradition are at each others’ throats when the enemies really are the post-modernists and their solipsistic nonsense.; or more accurately, their self-contradictions – a poetry reflecting a philosophy that is wedded as a primary principle to deep, deep skepticism. That would be fine, except it is never skeptical about itself, and so fails its own reality test – as their poems too demonstrate. We have on this thread a whole list of first rate poets who resist this post-modern negativity, and so surely it would be better if we were not firing at each other?

    • Charles Southerland

      Dear Morgan and James,

      Mr. Wise made a mistake for which he has apologized for. No Worries.

      Others of us who are conservatives, conservative leaning and libertarian at heart have been attacked by Leftist ideologues for years. I have personally turned my cheek until the bruising became unbearable. I no longer turn it. Other men and women here have also determined not to turn theirs either. I was personally attacked by Mr. MacKenzie, but really I give a flying flip what he says about me. He has attacked my friends. There is a line formed behind us ready to answer the charges by anyone who disparages us. I have grave doubts that Mr. MacKenzie is what he claims to be. Why else would he attack Leo Yankevich in such a manner?

      We came here at the invite of the editor and publisher. We respect his attempt to build a decent journal. It is what many of us desire with all our hearts.

      Please just don’t attack my friends.

      • James Sale

        Thanks for this Charles. But I don’ think I am attacking your friends, am I? Unless I am deceiving myself – please tell me if that is the case – I want to focus on the poetry and the ideas. So like you, yes, I would call myself conservative and libertarian at heart. As for Bruce Dale Wise, I think he is making a great contribution – I have admired his work a long time. All the best to you.

  11. Charles Southerland

    No, James, you have not. It was a general statement.

    My best.

  12. J. Davis

    Let me see. We have an editor(?) who publishes someone and then attacks the very person he publishes? We have a poem that is the purest expression of bigotry and hatred ever seen on a website. We have Joe MacKenzie a poet many of us have been following and loving, the only player in this discussion who knows what the hell a sonnet is as his publisher must have known or why would he have published him???? We have James Sale that MacKenzie wrote a beautiful review of that we also enjoyed. And now we have Sale and others joining Yenkovich to pile up on a man who dared to criticize a poem that Wise (or whoever he is) exposed as awful because it is?


    I’m still amazed by the prose!

    “Mr. Yankevich’s cynicism would conjure Molière’s Misanthrope was it not for the fact that Alceste at least possessed elegance of speech.”


    • James Sale

      Just to clarify one thing, Mr Davis: I am certainly not piling up on or against Joseph Mackenzie – I love the guy’s sonnet sequence and have written extensively about it and said I think it is major poetry. My sole point in this, if it isn’t already clear, is that we on this website, in my view, would be better served discussing poetry and ideas rather than attacking individuals and personalising attacks, especially as we all subscribe to ‘classical’ poetry ideals. Of course, if one is personally attacked, it is understandable that one might want to respond in kind; but the best thing I think is always to deal with the underlying argument. Personal attacks always seem an admission that one has no answer to the actual argument. That is all I am saying, and I am sorry if you have read it another way. Please check me out on the audit trail so you can see for yourself that that is my genuine intention. Best wishes – James

    • Charles Southerland

      On the fly, that was a pretty good poem, Leo. And in trimeter too. Reminds me of a poet who used to write in trimeter. I think he wrote some Cantos.

    • J. Davis

      You mean the way Wise and JoeMac cut you down to size?

      The essay remains. Grow up and deal with it.

    • J. Davis

      Hold on. You just said that you published JoeMac in the Pennyslvania Review (above) which your link links to. Thereofore, you just published your own poem in your own review.

      At least Wise’s essay showing how you choke in many forms is published by someone other than himself.

      How are you going to insult you way out of this one?

      Instead of losing yourself in irrational jealousy, you might get busy and start studying a little more about poetic forms and diction and grammar. Maybe then you wouldn’t be getting so many negative reviews.

      • Leo Yankevich

        It’s you, J. Davis, who is lost “in irrational jealousy.” You are a little poetaster gnat ready to be stomped under my foot at any time. However, I won’t give you any fame as even the butt of a joke. Bad genes have already made you short and ugly.

        Send out your doggerel and let the rejections pile up.

  13. Joseph Charles MacKenzie

    I would like to congratulate our editor Mr. Evan Mantyk (who is truly a poet in his own right) for publishing the Bruce Dale Wise essay in spite of the circumstances.

    Let’s face it. No one has refuted Mr. Wise’s essay, now have they? I therefore say High School teachers are to be respected.

    As for poor Mr. Yankevich, well, I never intended this discussion to be about me.

    Evidently the poetry wasn’t interesting enough to make it about the author—and, funny thing, the Pennsylvania Review still needs me as well! But hey, even the New York Times once used me to grab a few hits…

    • Charles Southerland

      Snagglepuss, a.k.a., MacKenzie, a.k.a., J. Davis; you might want to think about leaving gracefully, exit, stage left.

    • Leo Yankevich


      Do you want me to publish the fawning email that you wrote to me? The hits are coming in:

      4566 visitors since 06-28-2017 06:05 pm UTC
      «FIRST ‹PREV (Page 1 of 183) NEXT› LAST»
      Who Visits Last Visit IP Address Location Last URL Referer
      Active Guest Guest 8 07-28-2017 05:54 pm UTC United States Salem, AR /2017/07/creeps/ Yes
      Inactive Guest Guest 1 07-28-2017 05:42 pm UTC Portugal Feira, PT /yt2.php Yes
      Inactive Guest Guest 18 07-28-2017 05:38 pm UTC Ukraine Lviv, UA /2016/11/how-the-stars-flicker-under-eyes-cowboy-strode/ Yes
      Inactive Guest Guest 4 07-28-2017 05:30 pm UTC Israel ~ Israel /2017/07/el-dorado/ No
      Inactive Guest Guest 1 07-28-2017 05:25 pm UTC United States Pittsburgh, PA /2009/08/the-perils-of-etymology/ Yes
      Inactive Guest Guest 1 07-28-2017 05:24 pm UTC Korea, Republic of ~ Korea, Republic of / No
      Inactive Guest Guest 1 07-28-2017 05:23 pm UTC Vietnam Bình Thành, VN / No
      Inactive Guest Guest 7 07-28-2017 05:22 pm UTC United Kingdom Warrington, GB /2017/07/creeps/ Yes
      Inactive Guest Guest 2 07-28-2017 05:21 pm UTC United Kingdom Bournemouth, GB /2017/07/creeps/ No
      Inactive Guest Guest 1 07-28-2017 05:09 pm UTC United Kingdom Hull, GB / No
      Inactive Guest Guest 1 07-28-2017 05:02 pm UTC United States Naselle, WA /masthead/ Yes
      Inactive Guest Guest 1 07-28-2017 05:00 pm UTC United States San Francisco, CA / No
      Inactive Guest Guest 1 07-28-2017 04:59 pm UTC United States Alpine, CA / Yes
      Inactive Guest Guest 1 07-28-2017 04:50 pm UTC United States New York, NY /2017/07/creeps/ Yes

    • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

      You appear as desperate, absolutely desperate, to deflect attention from Wise’s extremely pertinent discussion of your deficiencies—impossible, really, to refute.

      And now you have turned the once-honorable Pennsylvania Review into a theatrical showcase for what amounts to a jealous tantrum. Sad, very sad, and a great dishonor to its contributors.

      Post all the polls you want, extract all the apologies you please. They don’t change the reality the essay has revealed and which your own works ratify.

      For, your reaction reveals the truth of one and only one person.

      And that person is you.

  14. Joseph S. Salemi

    I’ve been away for nearly two weeks, and have not checked my e-mail in all that time. That’s why I’m coming late to this contretemps.

    The anger levels are rising on all sides, and people are saying things that they all might regret later. I’ll have my say, and then hope for everyone to cool down a bit. This might take me two postings, so be patient.

    First, I have great respect for everyone involved in this dispute. I count all of you as comrades in a wider struggle. My immediate impulse is to scream “Don’t fight each other!” We have legions of real antagonists who want our blood, both in and out of the poetry world. Whatever minor disagreements we may have here pale before the enmity facing us out there.

    To Joseph MacKenzie: Poets choose their own subject matter. We can’t fault anyone for his decision to dwell on a specific historical moment, or for his preference for certain themes. Count Yankevich focuses on the turmoil and brutality attendant upon warfare because world wars have been the defining factor in recent European history. Two apocalyptic world wars and their disastrous sociopolitical consequences have put the West into the degraded and weakened position in which we now find ourselves. How can we not talk of them?

    I myself was born in 1948, but my entire childhood was dominated by the specter of World War II. My decorated veteran father (North Africa, Sicily, Anzio, the Po Valley) was haunted by the horrors he experienced, and they were vicariously real for me, through him and his memories. So is it for Leo Yankevich, living as he does in a country that was crucified by both Nazi and Soviet invaders. Yankevich’s poems that touch upon World War II force us to look at HOW and WHY the West is in the mortal predicament that it is in. Some of them are depressing, and all of them are uncomfortable. But they are crucial testaments to reality back then, and reality right now, which is rooted in the horrendous errors of the past.

    Another point: Not everyone here is a Roman Catholic, so neither I nor MacKenzie can seriously insist that poems should have references to Christ or Catholic spirituality or even to religious matters at all. Do we blame Petrarch for his love sonnets? (As a matter of fact, a 16th-century Franciscan friar did, and attempted to rewrite the Canzoniere in such a way as to make them “devout.”) Religion is deeply important, but it need not be the subject of every poem composed.

    Indeed, Leo Yankevich has composed several profoundly beautiful poems with a religious context. They may not be perfectly orthodox from the Catholic viewpoint, but they are magnificent.

    And why should this website be an exclusively Catholic one? How does that serve our collective purpose in the ongoing culture wars? If I am defending a position in combat and the enemy is advancing towards me, do I care if the soldier to my right is a Protestant heretic, and the soldier to my left a Jew? All I care is that their guns are pointed in the same direction as mine.

  15. Leo Yankevich


    The issue is not the essay. It is you and that midget, Davis. You locked horns with the wrong poet.

    Tomorrow the winner of the greatest living poetaster poll will face Billy McGonagall in a new poll: the greatest poetaster of all time. Mac looks like you’re going to win, but Davis still has a chance. Keep up the good work.:)

    • Sally Cook

      Again, in general:

      I have to ask why Count Leo Yankevich is described by Mr. Mackenzie as not caring for Jesus (I paraphrase). If that is true, then why would Yankevich publish my poem about Jesus, which he has recently put up at the Pennsylvania Review? If interested you may see it there; I will never insert any of my work in a comment.. That,’to me, is really beyond the pale.

      I have seen enough of Leo’s poetry to discern that, like all men of great ability, he has many sides. Some of them contain a gentle love of beauty, nature, kindness, a reverence for acts of truth and mercy. He also has a fierce side; even, one might say, a prejudicial one. All are facets and have to be weighed in..

      As for Charles Southerland, I recognize in him the richness and depth of true poetry. He knows what Leo Yankevich knows. Neither skims the surface.

      If Mr. Mackenzie believes that there are many poets writing who have not yet developed the technical skills required to do so, well – I have to say, what else is new? Hasn’t it always been that way in art? If he rejects such stuff he is only doing what he should. But Yankevich and Southerland are so much superior to that.

      Over and over, governments have forced narrow definitions on us for many words. We are now supposed to accept their definition for diversity, a word which used to have a positive, encompassing, even exhilarating meaning in life and in discourse. Today it has been dumped in the garbage heap in company with dozens of other castrated, redefined words and phrases. Now, It’s much more difficult for people to say what they mean. Why would poets sit still for this?

      Wouldn’t it make sense that we go after this attempt to censor language, rather than to endlessly savage each other? Perhaps it’s time for us to stop dancing on the head of a pin and get back to what we say we are – poets.

      Bottom line — none of us has the right to be harder on each other than we are willing to be on ourselves.

  16. Joseph S. Salemi

    Here I am with a second posting to add.

    All of this argument, from my cursory reading of the same, started with an old essay on Yankevich’s work by Bruce Dale Wise. The essay seemed fairly positive about Yankevich’s poetry, though it did contain some criticism here and there. But the match that ignited controversy was Joseph MacKenzie’s lament that the poems made no mention of Christ, and therefore did not “nourish.”

    This is a mistake. Poems do not have to be about any preconceived subject, nor do they have the task of doing anything for readers in the moral sense. All they have to be is good, well-made poems.

    Also, why the long list of murdered Catholic religious? Granted, Communism’s hands are bloody, but they are bloody with the blood of many different persons of many different faiths. I could just as well give a long list of the ten thousand Polish officers murdered in Katyn Forest by Stalin’s butchers in 1940. What does it prove? Poland in the Second World War wasn’t a safe place for anybody.

    I could have warned everyone that Count Yankevich is not a person to be trifled with. In disputes he takes no prisoners. Sure, he can be blisteringly brutal with opponents, and yes, this may be seen as “uncharitable.” But his bravery in the face of attack is unmatched by anyone in the poetry world — a world composed of such wimpish, effeminate, epicene girly-men that it defies belief. I would hate to face Leo Yankevich in a dark alley, but I sure want him on my side in any combat. He has stood up for me time and again, and has published my essays when gutless left-liberal vermin refused to even consider them.

    If his poems are not religious in some precisely defined style or manner, or if they deal with wars and suffering, why is that a problem?

    Let me end by saying that I truly enjoy the work of Joseph Charles MacKenzie, and in fact I am in the process of reviewing his sequence of sonnets for the next issue of TRINACRIA. He is a very powerful religious poet, and there is a crying need for that kind of work right now. But there are other types of poetry too.

    Let’s not fight and kill ourselves. The enemy is elsewhere. They are the ones who deserve our bullets.

  17. Joseph Charles MacKenzie

    As of this moment, I am the only poet I know in recent memory who has been officially censored here in the United States. Leo Yankevich, who cannot deny without lying that he greatly appreciated the literary merits of my sonnet entitled, “The Goddess of Manchester,” and who published it in the Pennsylvania Review as its editor, has now pulled it from the same.

    This decision followed my bold and courageous support of an essay published by Evan Mantyk, editor of the Society of Classical Poets. In my comments to this essay, I deployed the full force of whatever eloquence I may be said to possess to expose what I believe underlies the poetry of Leo Yankevich whose work is the subject of the essay by author Bruce Dale Wise.

    The discussion of the ideologies underlying a poet’s work could not be more legitimate and relevant in a literary discussion. Men are not divorced from their work.

    In my comments, I did not use vulgarity, profanity, or hate-speech. Rather, I exposed what I believe to be Mr. Yankevich’s overt contempt and scorn for Catholics, and in the boldest of terms. Far from attempting to refute these observations, Mr. Yankevich proceeded to affirm them, first by censoring my poetry in the Pennsylvania Review, and then by posting what someone called “the purest expression of anti-Catholic bigotry ever written” in its place.

    Mr. Yankevich has since launched other attacks against me in the same review and there is no end in sight to these attacks. So, the Pennsylvania Review has not only censored an American poet, but is now engaged in other forms of persecution in an obvious attempt to silence me.

    This is the very tactic of the left in this country: silencing followed by shaming. Mr. Mantyk and I experienced this when my Inaugural Poem for Donald J. Trump went temporarily viral last January. Indeed, fake news venues continue to use this tactic against our President to this day.

    While perhaps Catholics have been published in the Pennsylvania Review, these to my knowledge have not dared to expose the underlying anti-Christian ideology guiding it—as evidenced in the current censorship of my poem and the subsequent attempt to shame me into silence.

    In solidarity with the practitioners of Falun Gong, the Chinese underground church, persecuted Christians throughout the Middle Eastern world, South America, Africa, and now here in the United States, I solemnly condemn the Pennsylvania Review for its censorship of my verses.

    I further call upon all poets, writers, artists, and creators, to look very carefully into the works of Leo Yankevich. I ask readers to consider the following passage, one of many, taken from one of his essays, to wit:

    “Jesus appealed to the lowest elements, offering murderers, rapists, sodomites and tyrants a place in Jewish hocus-pocus land[…]Fortunately, Christianity evolved as an in-group religion and helped strengthen and reinforce the faith of communities, nations and the white race in general. For the German: ‘love thy neighbour,’ meant ‘love thy German neighbour.’ ‘God is love,’ meant ‘God loves the Germans.’”

    Leo Yankevich posted this in a white supremacist website here:

    Today, in this very discussion, Leo Yankevich has published a poem mocking the Holy Martyrs of Poland, whom I deliberately listed just to see what he would do. In typical, liberal manner, he conflates Catholics (whom he hates) with Jews (whom he hates), Vatican II’s leftist-globalist doctrine with the true Church that opposes it.

    This is the ideology of the Pennsylvania Review’s editor, an ideology compliant authors have conveniently ignored, some, perhaps, placing the need to publish above literary honor.

    Governments and institutions subscribing to this same ideology have consistently silenced non-compliant, Catholic dissenters throughout the Kulturkampf, Weimar Republic, and Third Reich phases of German history. It has also silenced Polish intellectuals who dared to question it. It has silenced intellectuals in Berkeley, Evergreen College, and throughout American academia.

    It now censors an American poet in the pages of the Pennsylvania Review!

    I am simply one more victim of liberalism’s immemorial practice of silencing and shaming, because I have dared to call out Leo Yankevich on his extra-literary, extra-aesthetic agenda in an attempt to explain the poetical defects many of us have seen in his work.

    In this very thread, some are praising Leo Yankevich for his “bravery and courage in the face of attack.” And yet he has yet to refute his critics on a literary level, hiding cowardly behind the smoke curtain of feeble insults and showboat spectacles.

    How is censoring and silencing dissenters either manly or courageous?

    Others are admonishing me for expressing myself from a traditional Catholic viewpoint, with the innuendo that I would turn the SCP into a Catholic website. And yet, every person posting here does so from the unique perspective of his or her own ideology, world-view, or religion. Why are not these also admonished?

    Why are not Mr. Yankevich and his supporters, whose voices, far more numerous, and who now aim their guns at me, not admonished for trying to turn the Society of Classical Poets into a liberal, anti-Christian bigotry site, or a socialist democrat site?

    Others play into Leo Yankevich’s “expatriate” persona, making him out to be almost an eye-witness victim of early 20th-century events in Poland. And yet, he was born in 1961 and simply moved to Poland in 1989, well after the worst of that country’s struggles. No one here in America forced him out. No one here ever censored his work. No one here ever subjected him to political or religious persecution. His ideology is actually the official religion of state in our country!

    There are two kinds of expatriates: Those who are forced out of their countries, and those who leave of their own free will for no other reason than to play a theatrical role because real life doesn’t suit them. And Leo Yankevich’s poetry reflects this: borrowed sufferings, borrowed persecutions, borrowed WWII décor, a life that seems nothing more than a quotation.

    I call on those who have been outspoken in refuting the errors of relativism and subjectivism, to stand with me in re-asserting poetry’s ordination to truth, beauty, wisdom, and the uplifting of other human souls. I call upon the same to beware the habit of routinely drawing moral equivalencies whenever a fellow poet is censored or silenced by liberal ideologues, be they of the left or the right, simply for daring to speak truth, however boldly, bravely, or perhaps imperfectly.

    Mr. Mantyk can affirm that I have brought more attention to the Society of Classical Poets and its many contributors than any other poet writing in it.

    I close this comment with a promise. I promise that I will continue to speak out against the enemies of poetry, civilization, and simple decency whose brutishness is tacitly condoned by moral equivocators and sycophants.

    I promise my many readers who have supported me, and my fellow poets of the Ars Poetica Nova who have been very kind to me, that I will not be silenced—not for my sake alone, but for theirs.

    For, censorship and fear are not, and never will be, the conditions of greatness in poetry.


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