On Cigarette Papers by Pam Zinnermann-Hope

On Cigarette Papers

Pam Zinnermann-Hope

An amazing tale of women imprisoned in Stalin’s Russia who being near to starvation would talk about food, exchange recipes and write them down in tiny script on cigarette papers. Pam Zinnemann-Hope is the daughter of one of these women and the recipes were discovered only after her mother’s death in the 1990s. This resulting book of poetry tells the story of her parents and their brave fight for survival. I found it incredibly moving.

'Russische Kochrezepte, nicht wegwerfen',
Russian recipes, don't throw away;
I tip them out of their small envelope,
wonder who saved the papers,
where she found the pencil
since writing was forbidden;
the flimsy pile sits soft
in my palm...
her lists on cigarette papers;
my only map
of who is with her.
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