by Peter Petschauer; MindMend Publishing
The subject of Peter Petschauer’s latest book of poetry, Listen to Rarely Heard Voices, is that confluence point of noticing, attention, knowing, refusal not to know what one knows, and keen observation of the tiniest detail in the natural world to the largest canvas of history and culture. Petschauer brings these virtues to every topic he touches and to each poem he writes: nature, family life and history, and the immense scale of history of societies – from ancient Western civilizations to Nazi Germany, to the Age of Trump and coronavirus. Often, as it happens in life, his father’s history as an SS officer, family and society and the poet’s personal development fatefully meet. Free of poetic conceit, Petschauer’s style as poet is direct, concise, and clear.
Peter w. Petschauer arrived from Europe in 1957, completed his doctorate in Russian and economic history at New York University in 1968, and taught at Appalachian State University for 38 years. After his retirement in 2006, he perused psychohistorically his primary interests in authoritarianism and trauma.
“I searched for understanding.” This is a line in one of the last poems found in Listen to Rarely Heard Voices and it reflects a thread that flows throughout. Petschauer may not yet have found understanding, but it is certain this text helps us all to consider understanding in new ways. Peter Petschauer’s newest book of poetry carries us into his life as “acorns crash” and tyrants spread misery with “unmeasured glee.” His figurative language shifts us between the sublime and the uncanny and gifts us with his links to nature, family and friends, and meanings of life. As the poems draw you deeper into the book, Petschauer graces us with fragments of his remarkable life. With his willingness to share his most intimate emotions, his poetry reflects angst, trauma, and joy in ways that encourage readers to reflect on their own life, to strive for understanding. Listen to Rarely Heard Voices by Peter Petschauer is a must read, the delightful and painful musings of a man greatly invested in all of humanity.
— Amy C. Hudnall, M.A., is the Senior Lecturer at the Departments of History and Cultural, Global, and Gender Studies; Advisory Board and Faculty member, Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies; Fellow, Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies.
There is an enveloping presence to Peter Petschauer’s poems in Listen to Rarely Heard Voices, like a cocoon inviting the reader to live inside them for a while. What a gift to experience, alongside the author, the warm moments of intimacy balanced with vast, sometimes jarring vistas reflecting the majesty of nature. I found myself dreaming of these juxtapositions, wondering where – to use Petschauer’s own evocative words from the book’s opening – “we made the turn that took us.” So much turn-taking comprises this book: at being young and old, good and evil, hidden and found. The rarely heard voices that speak through these oscillations are, at times, deeply familiar, at other times, strange and distant. All the while the call is to listen – not just see, but feel the wounds, and the joys, of a life lived fully, generously, and honestly as oneself. It is as if Petschauer is saying (but really showing) to us that it’s possible to forget how to remember, and remember how to forget, and yet still live in a space of presence, without memory and desire.
— Nathan Gerard, Ph.D., is the Associate Professor at California State University, Long Beach, in the Department of Health Care Administration, and Research Associate of the Center for Psychosocial Organization Studies.
Peter Petschauer’s arresting new volume of poems, Listen to Rarely Heard Voices, is a stunning commemoration of greed, avarice, power-gone-mad and the blood that drenches history, up to this very moment, at its behest. Indeed, the cautionary advice in each of these wonderfully narrative poems is to never forget the infamy history has habitually wrought, to remain ever-vigilant: “If we are not in charge ourselves – others are.” Petschauer is a documentary poet of great cinematic range, a poet of witness. Nothing escapes his gaze; he invests in the abiding thunder of the image.
— Joseph Bathanti, M.A., is the inaugural McFarlane Family Distinguished Professor in Interdisciplinary Education at Appalachian State University, North Carolina Poet Laureate and recipient of the 2016 North Carolina Award in Literature. His recent book is Light at the Seam (Louisiana State University Press, 2022).
The subject of Peter Petschauer’s latest book of poetry, Listen to Rarely Heard Voices, is that confluence point of noticing, attention, knowing, refusal not to know what one knows, and keen observation of the tiniest detail in the natural world to the largest canvas of history and culture. Petschauer brings these virtues to every topic he touches and to each poem he writes: Nature, family life and history, and the immense scale of history of societies – from ancient Western civilizations to Nazi Germany, to the Age of Trump and coronavirus. Often, as in the life of his father as an SS officer, family and society and the poet’s personal development fatefully meet. Free of poetic conceit, Petschauer’s style as poet is direct, concise, and clear.
The poems of Petschauer’s book give great breadth and depth to what is perhaps the pivotal word in his title: Listen. The polyphony of voices who speak in his poems are voices we so often wish not to hear and cannot bear to hear, let alone heed. To truly listen is to bear witness; it is to affirm that “This Is.” If we humans and our endangered planet are to survive, we must listen to these voices. With British soldier-poet Wilfred Owen, who was killed in World War I, Petschauer says in different words, “All a poet can do today is warn.” That is the message, gift, and weight of this book.
— Howard Stein, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK. Author of ten books and scrapbooks of poetry, about 22 clinical and scholarly books, and hundreds of articles and chapters of books.
Peter Petschauer’s Listen to Rarely Heard Voices is a joy to read. His poems range from beautiful observations of nature to glimpses of the ugliest deeds and thoughts humanity can harbor. All are little masterpieces of literature, filled with unexpected turns of light and dark. There is no artifice of sentimentality in them, just insight, illumination, and surprise.
— Zohara Boyd, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of English, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC. Dr. Boyd, along with her father, his wife, and his younger sister survived in plain sight in Warsaw during WWII.
Peter W. Petschauer’s Listen to Rarely Heard Voices has such beauty and richness that it touches me deeply at various levels – as it should for many readers. It is a product of the life experience of a very special human being who may be a fairly new poet, but whose poetry is enriched by his incredible knowledge, sensibility, and wisdom. His poems carry the burden and beauty of the last eighty years we humans have shared. I hope you will read it.
— Paul H. Elovitz, Ph.D., is a Historian, Research Psychoanalyst, Professor at Ramapo College, director of the Psychohistory Forum, and editor, Clio’s Psyche. He is author of The Making of Psychohistory: Origins, Controversies, and Pioneering Contributors and hundreds of other publications.
PUBLISHER’S FOREWORD (xiii)
FROM THE AUTHOR: ON A PERSONAL NOTE (xvii)
GREAT-GRANDFATHER’S WALKING STICK (3)
THREE MOMENTS — VENETIAN PERSPECTIVES
AROUND 1900 (5)
FALL WALK (11)
FALL AT THE LAKE (13)
THE CARPETED PATH (15)
HORSE APPLES (17)
SOFT SNOW IN HESSE (19)
SNOW SCENE (21)
THREE SETS OF COLORS (23)
BORROWED VIEW (25)
THE BEES ALONG THE PATH (26)
BAVARIAN SPRING, 2020 (27)
BABY CRYING (29)
THE GNARLED TREE (31)
I WISH I COULD FLY (33)
AT 80 (37)
THE KNIFE (39)
EVOLUTION’S EVOLUTION (43)
MOITZ AND HANS (45)
WOMEN AROUND ME (49)
LOSING MY DAUGHTER (51)
UMNACHTUNG (NIGHT FALLING) (53)
NIGHTTIME VISITOR (55)
OTHER TIMES (59)
LIFE SOUNDS (61)
SOFT VOICES (63)
ODE TO BOOKS (67)
SEPARATION’S HIGH COST (69)
THE BUREAUCRAT (71)
THE GIANT IN THE FOREST (73)
TWO GARDENS, WORLDS APART (75)
MOON BOATS (76)
ALL-POWERFUL EMPIRES (79)
CREATING IMAGES (83)
THE RETURN OF THE AUTHORITARIANS (85)
CLOUD SCRAPER (89)
THE TYRANT’S DEATH (91)
KILLING US (93)
REPETITION COMPULSION (95)
ONE AMONG MANY (97)
DEATH BY COVID-19 (99)
WHY IT TROUBLES ME SO (101)
BACK IN BAYERISCHER HOF (103)
THE BATTLEFIELD (107)
ANCIENT KILLERS – MODERN IMITATORS (109)
THE SEARCH FOR MEANING (113)
MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR (115)
ENDORSEMENTS OF THIS VOLUME (117)
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