High Lights: Adam’s ‘Animals’

Bari Boyd, Staff Writer


This week the Echo interviewed Adam Yastrzemsky.  He is a sophomore and is currently pursuing a double major in English and Fine Arts – Theater.  Adam is from Westminster, Maryland.  He wrote the poem Animals for Dr. Bligh’s Introduction to Creative Writing in the 2013 Fall Semester and was published in the Spring 2013 edition of Lighted Corners.  Adam was also published in the same edition for his poem True Love.  He told me that while True Love was written in pantoum form, Animals had no specific form.


Animals is written as a brief moment during the Holocaust.  What makes this poem stand out from the rest?  It is written from the prospective of a cattle car, one in many on a long train.  The car has always followed behind, much like the cattle carries inside.  However, this day it carries a different cargo, and one specific passenger, that will make this trip different from any other before.


You wrote the poem Animals for Intro to Creative Writing with Dr. Bligh?

Yes, English 286, I believe.  We had to write a creative work dealing with a specific historical context from an inanimate object’s point of view.  That’s the basic premise of where I got the idea.  It wasn’t one of those things where I woke up one day and said, “I’m going to write a poem today about a train car during the Holocaust”.


How did you come up with that idea?

Since it had to have historical context I wanted to pick a topic that I was going to know enough details about to build on.  The topic that just came into my mind that just gets beat into your head so much in high school is WWII.  So I thought, “that’s a topic that I won’t have to do extensive research to try to write a poem about, and still be able to keep it historically accurate”.  There were plenty of topics that I considered.  I chose that one because I figured I wouldn’t have to do extensive research outside of my knowledge base.


Do you prefer poems to other types of writing?

I enjoy poetry because it is so concise.  I would like to write longer work.  I’ve tried doing a little bit with writing a play, but poetry is, I hate to say, easier.  It’s more convenient for my own style because it is so concise, unless you’re doing an epic poem.  It’s the sort of thing that you can get a draft down, often in one sitting, or at least something down, and then come back to it later and decide, “this word isn’t working for me” and go back and revise.  But as a whole they don’t take a really long time and therefore you can spend more time revising.  If you aren’t doing it all in one sitting, you have to reengage.


What’s the best book you have ever read?

I am a huge fan of Picture of Dorian Grey, by Oscar Wilde.  I absolutely love that work.   I mentioned earlier that I had tried writing a play; I’m still in the process of trying to write a staging of that work in particular.  Just for fun.  When I was reading [the book] it is just so visual.  I could see all the scenes playing out in my head.  His writing style lended itself to that.


What is the best thing you’ve ever done on campus?

Being involved in shows in Delaplaine.  I don’t think there was one in particular that really sticks out.  I enjoy them all.


Have you ever read the Echo?

I’ve read a few articles in the Echo, mainly if [for example] the Allies are reviewed and someone says, “so and so was quoted in this”.  I’ve read specific articles.  But as a whole: do I pick up the Echo on a regular basis?  Not really.  Occasionally someone will say, “you were mentioned, or so and so that you know was quoted.”  Then I’ll be sure to check it out.


Thank you very much.

You’re welcome.



I have always been a follower and never questioned

the leader at the head of the group until today.

He pulls us along and makes sure that we reach our station.

Each of us carries our load without complaint across Germany.


I have been labeled the smelly one.

I protect and house the animals.

All sorts of animals have passed

through my sliding door and under my round roof.


Cattle are my favorite to transport,

for they have no fear within them.

They blindly follow just as I did;

cattle don’t know struggle.


Today was different; these animals were different.

Eyes swelling with an overwhelming number

of questions and fears.  They wept and clung

to each other for comfort; far from cattle.


I thought there may have been a mistake,

because the animals on the outside looked

like the ones which I housed.  The only difference

was the ones outside barked while within

all was silent.  The struggle was silent.


As we lurched into movement, panic followed

and wailing began.  Along with our cargo,

we carried a new passenger with us today,

and his scythe isn’t used to reap wheat.


If you liked Animals be sure to check out Adam’s other poem, True Love, found in the Spring 2013 Edition of Lighted Corners.

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