This week, we are excited to present a new poem by Christian Bancroft. Bancroft is the recipient of a Michener Fellowship. His work has appeared in Callaloo, Gulf Coast, Make It New, and Asymptote, among others. He is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Houston, where he is working on a dissertation about queering translation and Modernism.
This poem is from the manuscript A Ghost Has No Fantasies which brings to light and reframes the persecution of gay men during the Holocaust. Like the entire manuscript, “Night Howling” is a found text. This particular poem stems from a memoir written by Pierre Seel (1923-2005), a man who was persecuted by the Nazis and sent to the Schirmeck-Vorbrück camp for his homosexuality. During his time at the camp, Seel witnessed the execution of his lover, Jo, who was mauled to death by a pack of German shepherds. Because gayness challenges patriarchy, the poem gives space to confront the kind of social and physical violence enacted by men onto men. It was written with the sonnet form in mind, and, influenced by the first-hand accounts of these men, I was interested in exploring the deconstruction and reconstruction of language.