Celebrating the friendship of poets Nelly Sachs and Paul Celan

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Nelly Sachs (1891 – 1970), was the Nobel Prize winning German-Jewish poet and playwright whose experiences during World War II made her a potent spokeswoman for the grief and yearnings of her fellow Jews. In 1940, she and her elderly mother fled Germany for Sweden, barely escaping being sent to a concentration camp.

Paul Celan (1920 – 1970), was a German language poet and translator who became a major force on the post-World War II literary scene. Born into a Jewish family in Romania, he was imprisoned in a work camp during the war and survived, but both his parents died in the Holocaust.

“Dear Poet…All Light: The Correspondence between Paul Celan and Nelly Sachs,” is artist Matthew Girson’s adaptation of some of the letters exchanged between these two poets over many years. And at 1:30 p.m. on July 26, veteran Chicago actress Jeannie Affelder, and George Booker (who just graduated from the Theatre School at DePaul University) will present a 30-minute reading of the piece in the Chicago Rooms on the second floor of the Chicago Cultural Center, surrounded by “Matthew Girson: The Painter’s Other Library,” an exhibit of the Chicago-based artist’s haunted (and haunting) paintings, which are on exhibit through Aug. 10. (Admission is free.)

Also on Aug. 2, at 7 p.m., the musical duo Coppice will perform compositions for live electronics and bellows in the Chicago Rooms. Noe Cuellar and Joseph Kramer of Coppice investigate “breathturns” as they explore musical articulations of air across edges.

On Aug. 7 at 12:15 p.m., Chicago poet Tyler Mills will read selections of Sach’s poetry, as well as select poems by Celan and Wallace Stevens. This reading also will take place in the Chicago Rooms, presented in collaboration with the Poetry Foundation.

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