Lynn Fanok received a Master of Arts in English from Arcadia University and Bachelor of Arts in English from The Pennsylvania State University. She has taught college level English and English as a Second Language (ESL). Lynn lives with her husband in Bucks County, Pa. where she leads a poetry series at an independent bookstore.
A Trip to European Provisions
My father asks if I'd like to come along
with him to the delicatessen. Yes! Yes!
I inhale pork kielbasa, sauerkraut,
cured meats and smoked fish.
He orders a half pound of sliced headcheese
and liverwurst, a ring of kyshka, and a loaf
of rye bread varnished with egg white.
At the register, I eye some candies shaped
like miniature bottles— filled with liqueur!
My father grins, delighted at my enthusiasm.
Can I have one? I select a few of the treats
wrapped in jewel tone cellophane.
Before reaching home, I bite off a chocolate top
and relish the sweet liqueur inside.
Bread and Fumes, poems is available for purchase at the following
Bucks County, Pennsylvania businesses.
Newtown Bookshop, Village at Newtown, 2835 S. Eagle Rd., Newtown, Pa.
Chimayo Gallery & Gift Shop, 21 No. 7th St., Perkasie, Pa.
The Next Chapter Bookstore, 205 No. Main St., Sellersville, Pa
Also available from Kelsay Books (publisher)
Reading Bread and Fumes is like watching someone turn the pages in a family album of tautly composed snapshots. Each moment is doubly seen—with both the sensory immediacy of a young girl’s experience and her greater insight as an adult. Graceful in their economy, the double consciousness of these poems perfectly suits their speaker’s situation as the daughter of an Eastern European father who survived a Nazi labor camp only to flee from a Stalinist occupation. There is joy here and community, even as the child of a trauma survivor learns to “live with a fire breathing dragon.”
— Randall Couch, Poet
“No easy way through,” says the daughter of a World War II labor camp survivor, and the poems in Lynn Fanok’s new book Bread and Fumes bring a remarkable compassion and wonder to the story of growing in a house rich in language—kyshka, holubtsi, studzienina—and aromas, but also rife with anger. No poet more bravely helps us to appreciate the mythic paradoxes that can dominate a childhood. “I live with a fire breathing dragon,” the young daughter tells her friends, but her father is also the man at the kitchen table making pierogies. When she writes of her small Polish keepsake box made out of linden, with its hidden lever opening a secret drawer, she could be describing her own poems. Poets like Lynn Fanok inspire us to try these hidden levers and open these secret drawers. There is “no easy way through,” and poetry understands this. “What to do?” Fanok asks in “Dispossessed” and then answers her own question, “Release the dark swallows / lodged in my throat.”
— Christopher Bursk, author of Improbable Swerving of Atoms
In Lynn Fanok’s moving collection, Bread & Fumes, she weaves together wonderfully nostalgic poems rich with the traditions brought to this country from Eastern Europe: boisterous family suppers at the kitchen table filled with dumplings, sauerkraut, vodka; visits to cousins in the country or to see her Bapcia in Brooklyn; learning to dance the Hopak. But within these snapshots is an undercurrent of terror that spills from the ravages of WWII during which time her father was forced to work in a Nazi labor camp—his “implacable” rage and the dark places that permeate all their lives. “From the back seat, I studied / the back of my father’s dark head,” Fanok writes, in her longing to know and understand how identity, both her father’s and her own, is formed by the confluence of varied and often unknowable forces. Fanok reminds us of our own searching for who we are with poems that are quietly compelling, always unassuming, and remarkably tender.
— Cheryl Baldi, author of The Shapelessness of Water