the many phases & sights of race


enlightenment through poetry, sharpening of consciousness by setting poetic signs and drawings: only the best children’s books have managed to bridge the gap between targeted didactics and free-floating fantasy. i see camilo c. antonio’s poems and ion neculai‘s illustrations rooted in this humanist tradition.

thank heavens that camilo writes his poetry in english – the raspy german word “rasse” suffocates all poetry in its tracks: between the pure-race german shepherd and the racial laws promulgated in nuremberg, there would, in truth, be only space for a horrific gagging reflex.

but in this way, the book is a profusion of the poetic: like rhizomes, camilo’s associations of “race” spread into a dense web of roots. indeed, it is as if the author and his conspiratorial illustrator are letting us view that particular word through a kaleidoscope. but it is also as if we are giving in to a litany that speaks to all whose empathy is still above freezing point. and it is – like only the very best illustrated children’s books – precious for the heart’s formation.

thank you for it!

fritz ostermayer (artistic director, schule für dichtung / vienna poetry school)