This poem about a historical event during the winter of 1945 in which German families who lived in Brno were forcibly evacuated and marched 40 miles to the Austrian border, resulting in many deaths. A descendant of survivors from that march, Saemmer’s poem evokes the difficulty of grasping and reconstructing this traumatic portion of family history by writing, positioning, and mapping a way through a spatially arranged text in a presentation software called Prezi.
Prezi is a spatial presentation tool, which allows for placement, scaling, and visual navigation of textual and other objects on an “infinite” canvas. Saemmer uses it to place a textual layer over a video of a march in Winter with thunder-like sounds of war in the background. The arranged texts can be explored as the reader desires, but to really appreciate the craft of this poem, you should place the video on fullscreen and autoplay. The sequence that unfolds makes clever use of the language, recombining lines to distinct effects, and making meaningful use of position (as in the use of the word “here”). After reading the sequence Saemmer has composed, do explore the work by zooming in and out to appreciate details and get a sense of the big picture in this powerfully emotional poem.