Lotte Kramer was born in Germany and came to England in 1939. She now lives in Peterborough.
Turning the Key (Rockingham Press, 2009)
Kindertransport, Before and After, Sixty Poems 1980-2007 (University of Sussex, 2007)
Selected and New Poems 1980-1997 (Rockingham Press, 1997)
The Phantom Lane (Rockingham Press, 2004)
Black Over Red (Rockingham Press, 1999)
Heimweh Homesick (Brandes and Apple bilingual edition,1999)
The Desecration of Trees (Hippopotamus Press, 1994)
Earthquake and Other Poems (Rockingham Press, 1994)
Song for a September Birth: Felicitations to Roy Lewis (Alan Tarling, 1992)
Shoemaker’s Wife and Other Poems (Hippopotamus Press, 1987)
A Lifelong House (Hippopotamus Press, 1983)
Family Arrivals (Poet and Printer, 1981)
Ice-break (Annakin, 1980)
Scrolls: a Poem with Trevor Covey (Keepsake Press, 1979)
Lotte Kramer’s teacher negotiated a place for her on one of the Kindertransport trains from Mainz in 1939. After years of waiting for news, she was to learn that twelve family members, including her parents, had been deported to Poland, some to Auschwitz, and none had survived. Lotte Kramer writes in English but has produced a bilingual volume, Heimweh Homesick where she outlines a consciousness moving from innocence to experience as she watched Synagogues burn yet still walked carelessly along the river, her child’s mind not yet making connections. Part of her feels her exile from Germany and she has written on her sense of exile where she was forced to leave her own country for being Jewish, yet not always welcomed in England because she was German. Lotte Kramer’s poems acknowledge the risk that family friends took to give her a chance of life elsewhere and she focuses on the lives of those who did not lose their humanity rather than those who served an inhumane regime.
Lotte Kramer is not just a “Holocaust Poet” as she also writes about the landscapes of modern Europe, about the Fen country and about works of art, both paintings and literature. Her keen sense of observation brings people vividly to life in her poems. Turning the Key also contains versions and translations of selected other poets including Rilke, Holderlin, Heine and Trakl. Her own poems have been translated into Japanese.
“The power of Kramer’s most moving poems lies partly in their obliquity, their resonant silences opening into spaces of irony, compassion or terror. “A Glass of Water” calls to mind the unknowable thirst, heat and stench suffered by the Jews in the cattle-trucks, thinking of which the poet finds herself unable to lift the glass and drink. “A feeble gesture”, she says wryly; but this clear-eyed enactment of “solidarity with shadows” is anything but weak. Similarly in “Transmutations” the image of a hawthorn tree is filled with suffering ghosts, the leaves becoming crosses against the low sun, the shadows “sharpening each thorn to a dark nail”. The crucifixion imagery gives way to a worse horror, the annihilation of people dissolved into smoke: “I touch the full bough / It spills ashes, blinding my shoes.” Janet Montefiore (Times Literary Supplement)