The 1,217 poems entitled “Suite Polonaise” were written following my visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau in July, 1992. For three days after my return to Paris, where I had spent the summer, I was extremely distraught. Each day was worse than the last, and I feared for my sanity.
Then, near midnight on the third day I was able to write a poem, and experienced a small relief. Another came the next day, then another the following.
This went on for three full years. I became surfeited, and spent a year working on revisions. Then the energy returned, and the one-a-day regimen, and I worked until more than 1,200 were done. I continued, almost constantly, to revise and rewrite until the summer of 2009.
It became clear that I could go on until I could write no more, and the work would still be incomplete, unsatisfactory—an enormous, unwieldly mountain of poems. So I have published that mountain.