In A Blue Note
Writing is a powerful way for us to embark on our personal journeys of healing. It helps us come to terms with what life may throw our way, all of its realities and circumstances.
Change. Pain. Loss. These can be deeply affecting. In an effort to understand our particular life station, we may choose to carve out some time for ourselves, in order to think more deeply about where we’re at, to engage with our thoughts and emotions through the beautiful act of writing to heal.
Here are some resources that look at writing that does such liberating and empowering work:
We sometimes find ourselves struggling, when everything seems a tad too overwhelming. If you feel yourself unravelling, always be ready to reach out for help.
Here are several numbers and directories in Singapore that are useful:
Care Corner Counselling Centre: 1800-353-5800
Institute of Mental Health’s Mental Health Helpline: 6389-2222
National Care Hotline: 1800-202-6868
Samaritans of Singapore: 1-767 (24 hours)
Silver Ribbon Singapore: 6385-3714
Tinkle Friend: 1800-274-4788
TOUCHline (Counselling): 1800-377-2252
How does one look at trauma, afford it a serious gaze, try to gain an understanding of it?How may such an understanding of trauma help us to better know and hold these stories of pain and healing, that of ourselves and others? How, then, may poetry connect to such memory and history, and give it voice?
Below is a fascinating list of scholastic readings that allow for deep study into the relationship between trauma and literature. This bibliography includes recommendations from editor Eric Tinsay Valles, borne of his academic research into the subject.
Augustine, Saint. City of God. Trans. Gerald Walsh, Demetrius Zema, Grace Monahan and
Daniel Honan. New York and London: Doubleday, 1958.
_____________. Confessions. Trans. R.S. Pine Coffin. Middlesex, England and New York:
Penguin Books, 1961.
____________. On Christian Teaching. Trans. RPH Green. Oxford and New York: Oxford
University Press, 1997.
Benjamin, Walter. Berlin Childhood around 1900. Trans. Howard Eiland. Cambridge,
Massachusetts: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2006.
_______________. “The Storyteller” In Selected Writings. Ed. Michael W. Jennings.
Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard College, 2002.
_________________. “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” In
The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. Ed. Vincent B. Leitch. New York, New York: Norton, 2001.
Blanchot, Maurice. The Station Hill Blanchot Reader: Fiction and Literary Essays. Trans.
Lydia Davis, Paul Auster and Robert Lamberton. Ed. George Quasha. New
York: Station Hill, 1999.
______________. The Writing of Disaster (L’Escriture du Disastre). Lincoln and
London: University of Nebraska Press, 1995.
Blount, Eleanor J. “Memorizing the Dark: Margaret Walker and Toni Morrison Compress
African American Time and Space in Poetry and Fiction.” In Fishkin, Benjamin
Hart, Festus Fru Ndeh and Bill F. Ndi, Eds. Outward Evil, Inward Battle: Human
Memory in Literature. Baltimore, Maryland: Project MUSE, 2014.
Buber, Martin. “The Dialogue between Heaven and Earth.” In A Holocaust
Reader: Response to the Nazi Extermination. Ed. Michael L. Morgan. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001, pp. 63-7.
Butler, Judith. Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable?. London and New York: Verso,
Camargo, Martin. “Non solum sibi sed allis etiam”: Neoplatonism and Rhetoric in St.
Augustine’s De Doctrina Christiana.” Rhetorica: A Journal of the History of Rhetoric. 16 (Autumn 1998), 393-408.
Carmody, Todd. “The Banality of the Document: Charles Reznikoff’s Holocaust
and Ineloquent Empathy.” Journal of Modern Literature, vol. 32, issue 1, 2008, pp. 86-110.
Carroll, Rory. 'Solace and Healing': Ireland Turns to Poetry to Ease Lockdown Strain.” The
Caruth, Cathy. Literature in the Ashes of History. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press,
Chlup, James T. “Identity and the Representation of War in Ancient Rome.” In Words and
Images: Representing War across the Disciplines. Eds. Elena Bourbon, Stephan Yaeger and Adam Muller. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1212.
Coles, Romand. Self/Power/Other: Political Theory and Dialogical Ethics. Ithaca
and London: Cornell University Press, 1992.
Craps, Stef and Gert Buelens. “Introduction: Postcolonial Trauma Novels.” Studies in
the Novel, vol. 40, Spring and Summer 2008, pp 1-12.
Crawford, Fred D. British Poets of the Great War. Selinsgrove and London: Susquehanna
University Press, 1988.
Dubos, Rene, Maya Pines et al. Health and Disease. Hong Kong: Time-Life Books, 1982.
Edford, Rachel. “Testimony, Objectivism, and Poetic Form in Charles Reznikoff’s
Holocaust.” Interactions, vol. 28, issue 1-2, March 2019.
Felman, Shoshana and Dori Laub. Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature,
Psychoanalysis and History. New York and London: Routledge, 2009.
Ferris, David S, Ed. The Cambridge Companion to Walter Benjamin. Cambridge, UK:
Cambridge University Press, 2004.
Fetz, Bernard and Rachel Magsham. “Representing the Holocaust. On Paul Celan,
Ilse Aichinger, Albert Drach and Heimrad Backer, with an Appeal for Critical Reflection on the Cultural and Political Field in Which Holocaust Literature Is Inscribed.” NewGerman Critique, vol. 93, Autumn 2004, pp. 55-86.
Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, Elena, Gil Loescher, Katy Long and Nando Sigona. The Oxford
Handbook of Refugee and Forced Migration Studies. Oxford: Oxford University
Foti, Veronique M. “’Speak, You Also’: on Derrida’s Readings of Paul Celan.” Mosaic: A
Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature, vol. 39, no. 3.
Fischer-Barnicol, Hans A. “Systematic Motifs in Marcel’s Thought” Trans. James S. Morgan
and Hans H. Rudnick. In The Philosophy of Gabriel Marcel. La Salle, Illinois: The Library of Living Philosophers, 1984.
Forche, Carolyn. “Twentieth Century Poetry of Witness.” American Poetry Review, vol. 22,
no. 2, March-April 1993, p. 17.
Foucault, Michel. “Maurice Blanchot: The Thought from Outside.” Trans. Brian Massumi. In
Foucault/Blanchot. New York: Zone Books, 1987.
Graham, Desmond. Poetry of the Second World War. London: Penguin Books, 1995.
Gregg, John. Maurice Blanchot and the Literature of Transgression. Princeton, New Jersey
Princeton University Press, 1994.
Harrison, Carol. Beauty and Revelation in the Thought of Saint Augustine. Oxford:
Clarendon Press; New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.
____________. “The Rhetoric of Scripture and Preaching.” In Augustine and His Critics.
Eds. Robert Dodaro and George Lawless. London and New York: Routledge, 2000. 214-30.
Hashimoto, Akiko. The Long Defeat: Cultural Trauma, Memory and Identity in Japan. New
York : Oxford University Press, 2015.
Harrington, Francis Joseph. Trauma, Shame and Secret Making: Being a Family without a
Narrative. New York: Routledge, 2018.
Haughton, Miriam. Staging Trauma: Bodies in Shadow. London: Palgrave Macmillan
High, Stephen, Ed. Beyond Testimony and Trauma: Oral History in the Aftermath of
Mass Violence. Vancouver and Toronto: UBC Press, 2015.
Jung, Carl Gustav. “The Poet” In Eastman, Arthur M. et al, Eds. The Norton Reader. New
York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1984, 1019-23.
Kohl, Katrin. “Bearing Witness: The Poetics of H. G. Adler and W. G. Sebald.” In Finch,
Helen and Lynn L.Wolff. Witnessing, Memory, Poetics: H.G. Adler and W.G.
Sebald. Suffolk: Boydell & Brewer, 2014.
Kon, Desmond and Eric Valles, Eds. Anima Methodi. Singapore: Squircle Line Press, 2018.
Kurtz, J. Roger, Ed. Trauma and Literature. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge
University Press, 2018.
La Capra Dominick. “Trauma, Absence, Loss.” Critical Inquiry, vol. 25, no. 4, 1999, pp.
_______________. Writing History, Writing Trauma. Baltimore and London: Johns
Hopkins University Press, 2001.
Laugesen, Amanda and Catherine Fisher, Eds. Expressions of War in Australia and the
Pacific: Language, Trauma, Memory and Official Discourse. Cham: Springer
International Publishing, 2020.
Levi, Primo. The Drowned and the Saved. New York: Simon & Shuster, 1989.
Levinas, Emmanuel. Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority. Trans. Alphonsus Lingis.
Pittsburgh: Dusquenne University Press, 1997.
Liu Thai Ker, Ed. Chop Suey: A Selection from a Host of Gruesome Events that Occurred in
Malaya during the Japanese Occupation. Singapore: World Scientific, 2014.
Lyotard, Jean-Francois. Heidegger and the Jews. Trans. Andreas Michel and Mark
Roberts. Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press, 1990.
MacKay, Marina. The Cambridge Companion to the Literature of World War II. Cambridge
and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
Marcel, Gabriel. “Primary and Secondary Reflection.” In Readings in Philosophy of Man.
Angeles, Antoinette et al, Eds. Manila: Ateneo de Manila University, 1986.
Marcus, G.E. “What Comes (Just) after ‘Post’: The Case of Ethnography.” In N.K. Denzin
and Y.S. Lincoln, Eds. Handbook of Qualitative Research (pp. 563-574). Thousand
Oaks: Sage, 1994.
McCullough, Shellie. “Wound Marks in the Air and the Shadows Within: A Poetic
Examination of Dan Pagis, Paul Celan, and Nelly Sachs.” In Aarons, Victoria and Phyllis Lassner, Eds. The Palgrave Handbook of Holocaust Literature and Culture. Cham: Springer International Publishing, 2020. 343-56.
Meskin, Jacob. “IN THE FLESH: Embodiment and Jewish Existence in the Thought of
Emmanuel Levinas.” Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal vol. 70, Spring 1993,
Milovanovic-Barham, Celica. “Three Levels of Style in Augustine of Hippo and Gregory
of Nazianzus.” Rhetorica: A Journal of the History of Rhetoric, vol. 2, Winter
1993, pp. 1-25.
Nadal, Marita and Monica Calvo, Eds. Trauma in Contemporary Literature: Narrative
Representation. New York and London: Routledge, 2014.
Nichols, Stephen G. “Amorous Imitation: Bakhtin, Augustine, and Le Roman d’Eneas.” In
Romance: Generic Transformation from Chretien de Troyes to Cervantes. Eds.
Kevin Brownlee and Marina Scordilis Brownlee. Hanover and London: University
Press of New England, 1985. 47-73.
O’Donnell, James J. “Augustine: His Time and Lives.” In The Cambridge Companion to
Augustine. Eds. Eleanore Stump and Norman Kretzman. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2001.
O’Sullivan, Sibbie. “Poetry Need Not Be a Call to Action, but ‘The Long Take’ Is.” The
Washington Post. 19 November 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/poetry-need-not-be-a-call-to-action-but-the-long-take-is/2018/11/16/eb327d54-e833-11e8-b8dc-66cca409c180_story.html.
Peck, Harvey W. “The Significance of Poetry.” Texas Review, vol. 3, July 1918, pp. 318-
Pillemer, David B. “Can the Psychology of Memory Enrich Historical Analyses of Trauma?”
History and Memory, vol. 16, Fall/Winter 2004, pp. 140-54.
Pinsky, Robert. Democracy, Culture and the Voice of Poetry. Princeton and Oxford:
Princeton University Press, 2002.
Raj, David King. “A Poetic Response on Little India Riot.” From Adversity to University.
http://www.davidkingraj.com/thekingblogs/2013/12/9/a-poetic-response-on-little-india-riot. 2013. Web. April 2015.
Reznikoff, Charles. “Charles Reznikoff.” Interview with L.S. Denbo. Contemporary
Literature, vol. 10, issue 2, 1969, pp. 193-202.
_______________. “Holocaust.” In Holocaust Poetry. Ed. Hilda Schiff. New York: St. Martin’s
Griffin, 1995, pp. 32-5, 78-80.
_______________. Testimony, Volume 1 The United States (1885-1915). Recitative. Santa
Barbara, California: Black Sparrow Press, 1965.
Richter, Gerhard. “Benjamin’s Confessional and Literary Writings.” In The Cambridge
Companion to Walter Benjamin. Ed. David S. Ferris. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge
University Press, 2004.
Robson, Leo. “Walking Wounded.” New Statesman. vol. 147, issue 5445, 16-22 November
2018, pp. 50-1.
Scott, Joanna Vecchiarelli. “’A Detour through Pietism”: Hannah Arendt on St. Augustine’s
Philosophy of Freedom.” Polity, vol. 20, Spring 2014, pp. 394-425.
Schaeffer, John D. “The Dialectic of Orality and Literacy: The Case of Book 4 of Augustine’s
De Doctrina Christiana.” MLA, vol. 111, 1996, pp. 1133-1145.
Stahl, David C. Trauma, Dissociation and Re-enactment in Japanese Literature and Film.
Abingdon, Oxon and New York: Routledge, 2018.
__________ and Mark Williams, Eds. Imag(in)ing the War in Japan: Representing and
Responding to Trauma in Postwar Literature and Film. Leiden and Boston: Brill,
Stavans, Ilan and G. Sheehy. “Memory and Literature.” Agni, vol. 48, 1998, pp. 79-90.
Stonebridge, Lyndsey. “Theories of Trauma.” In The Cambridge Companion to the
Literature of World War II. Ed. Marina MacKay. Cambridge and New York:
Cambridge University Press, 2009.
Swift, Louis J. “Augustine on War and Killing: Another View.” The Harvard Theological
Review, vol. 66, July 1973, pp. 369-83.
Tapscott, Stephen. “The Poem of Trauma.” The American Poetry Review, vol. 13,
November/December 1984, pp. 38-47.
Veprinska, Anna. “Empathetic Witnessing in Charles Reznikoff’s Holocaust and Cynthia
Hogue and Rebecca Ross’s ‘When the Water Came: Evacuees of Hurricane
Katrina.’” Contemporary Literature. vol. 58, no. 3, Fall 2017, pp. 305-32.
_____________. Empathy in Contemporary Poetry after Crisis. Cham: Springer International
Victor, Divya. Absent Witness: Trauma and Contemporary American Poetry. 2013. State
University of New York at Buffalo, PhD dissertation.
Violi, Patrizia. Landscapes of Memory: Trauma, Space, History. Trans. Alastair McEwen.
Oxford: Peter Lang, 2017.
Wallace-Crabbe, Chris and Peter Pierce, Eds. Clubbing of the Gunfire: 101 Australian War
Poems. Carlton, Victoria: Melbourne University Press, 1984.
Weigel, Sigrid. Walter Benjamin: Images, the Creaturely, and the Holy. Trans. Chadwick
Truscott Smith. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2013.
Winter, Jay M. War Beyond Words: Languages of Remembrance from the Great War to
The Present. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017.