Nothing More to Lose
by Carolyn Martin
Nothing More to Lose is an intense, hair-raising, and hopeful account of one family’s resilience and faith. With poems based on Therese Kolbert Dieringer’s autobiography (My Life – Lived and Remembered: A journey across Hungary, Germany, and America), Carolyn Martin tracks the Kolbert family as they escape from Hungary in 1944, endure seven years of starvation and sickness in Germany, and arrive to a new life in America in 1952. Refugees who know neither the language nor landscape, they finally find some semblance of peace in their new home.
Martin knows her subject well. Dieringer is a family friend whose autobiography she edited in 2008. This intimate connection flows through powerful free verse poems that are filled with immediacy, insight, and compassion. Nothing More to Lose will open readers’ hearts and minds to the challenges that refugees in every era experience. It will also affirm the power poetry has to bear witness to that suffering and to the strength lying deep within the human spirit.
About the Author
From associate professor of English to management trainer to retiree, Carolyn Martin is a lover of gardening and snorkeling, feral cats and backyard birds, writing and photography. After years of producing academic papers and business books, she discovered that poetry is the way her heart and mind interact with the world —in images, rhythms, sounds, and intensities of language. So she has settled into the joyful challenge of translating experience into as few words as possible.
Martin’s aesthetic is embodied in Jack Kerouac’s comment in Dharma Bums: “One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple,” and in Sting’s statement, “All my life I have tried to find the truth and make it beautiful.”
Her poems attempt to use simple words to embrace truths wherever she finds them, and to turn them into something approximating the beautiful.
Her poems have appeared in journals throughout North America, Australia, and the UK, and her fifth poetry collection, The Catalog of Small Contentments, will be released by The Poetry Box® in 2021. She is the book review editor for the Oregon Poetry Association and the poetry editor of Kosmos Quarterly: journal for global transformation.
Early Praise for Nothing More to Lose:
It would seem that Carolyn Martin, the poet, and Therese Kolbert Dieringer, the persister, have become quantumly entangled—that state of essential being in which what happens to one happens to the other, what is felt by one is felt by the other, no matter any barriers of time or distance. How else to explain Therese’s experiences—surviving Nazis, spousal abuse, and being found by new, liberating love—expressed with such first-hand poetic beauty by Carolyn’s stirring and sterling lines? Alert Bohr and Planck! Martin and Dieringer have established the principle of poetic entanglement and extended it to us. Thomas Merton wrote, “We have all stood in front of that special image that sang to our soul.” Were he alive today and asked for an example, he would hand the person this chapbook.
~Wayne-Daniel Berard, co-founding editor of Soul-Lit: a journal of spiritual poetry and author of The Realm of Blessing
In her introduction to Nothing More to Lose, Carolyn Martin says, “… even in the worst of times, people can be kind.” That idea buoys these poems that share a truly horrific tale of survival beginning in WWII Hungary. Through Martin’s deftly crafted images, we see into the life of Therese Kolbert Dieringer as she and her family flee Nazis, bombs, starvation, and more. The long journey that concludes in America brings Therese to a safer, but not necessarily less cruel, place. I had to take little breaks as I read these poems; that human beings are capable of causing so much pain is nearly unbearable. But Dieringer’s voice comes through each of Martin’s poems showing how kindness and cruelty co-exist in us all, and how true strength and resilience cannot be extinguished. Most importantly, kindness wins.
~ Kathleen Cassen Mickelson, cofounder of Gyroscope Review
and blogger at One Minnesota Writer
In Nothing More to Lose, Carolyn Martin has read and written my soul. No one has been able to feel what I felt before this poet shared her inspired words with me and now with the world. I spent more than 70 years trying to forget the events that shaped my life and gave me nightmares. Now, through working with Carolyn on both my autobiography and this chapbook, I feel healed. The nightmares are gone.
I hope these poems will help readers find courage in the realization we are not here on our own. We are guided by a Higher Power. This book is a good way to end my journey.
~Therese Kolbert Dieringer