|BROADSTONE BOOKS announces
|Publication Date: July 1, 2019
Paperback, 96 pages
Booksellers: Available from
Small Press Distribution
Julia Knobloch was born and raised in
Germany and has lived in France,
Portugal, and Argentina. She is a former
documentary filmmaker, a member of the
Sweet Action poetry collective, and the
recipient of a 2017 Brooklyn Poets
fellowship. She currently resides in
Julia Knobloch has led a peripatetic life, from her native Germany, through years
spent in several countries (her time in Buenos Aires inspired many poems here, as
well as the cover image), to her current home in Brooklyn, so it comes as no surprise
that she would speak in her opening poem of longing, of “expecting to find a home in
the space / between arrivals and departures.” It is that “space between” that she
probes in these exquisitely rendered, and rending, poems; and appropriately, the mood
of the collection is best expressed by a German word that has no precise English
equivalent – Sehnsucht.
Her journey through this space takes place across three dimensions of experience.
The first is heritage, as the discovery of a forgotten (or suppressed) Jewish ancestor
propels her into an examination of her childhood and the embrace of a new identity
and faith. In a poem to “My Unknown Jewish Ancestor” she acknowledges
Your blood is thin in my veins,
after generations skipped and lost.
Even so, she pleads
but I am your long-lost sister. Bless me.
The second dimension is geographic, as she negotiates a nomadic life that crosses
continents, cultures, and languages. This is her personal time in the wilderness, a time
she recognizes may never be ended. In the title poem, which closes the collection,
she responds to those who wonder why she does not simply go home, in terms of
biblical resonance and authority:
I want to.
The third dimension is the most intimate, as she describes her experience as a woman
on her own in the world, traversing the promise and perils of relationships, her
unfulfilled desire for a family:
I lost two children before I knew
if they were sons or daughters.
I lost my love on the first day of the seventh month.
I lost my laughter in the year that followed.
But even if the laughter was lost, her language and her longing remain, and fill these
pages with unforgettable emotion. With Sehnsucht.
Praise for Julia Knobloch and Do Not Return
In Julia Knobloch’s knock-out debut volume, Do Not Return, her unalloyed
confidence skips over any literary initiation and immerses the reader in wholly
absorbing poems which travel the world “expecting to find a home in the space /
between arrivals and departures.” Synthesizing the complexity of her family history
within WWII Europe, she says “what is gone remains,” as do, for us, the images of
“oranges and sycamores in dusky air,” and “sunburnt terrace tiles under naked feet,”
long after we turn the pages. “We know where to go, we have been here before,”
Knobloch writes of a far- flung beach, and she could also be describing the canny
rightness of our experience as readers; as she plays hide and seek with boundaries,
love, and God, we become both awestruck tourists and grateful natives in a land she
—Jessica Greenbaum, author of Spilled and Gone
Through numerous countries and cultures, from ancient pasts to longed-for futures,
Julia Knobloch’s debut collection sings her world with a voice that finds itself both
belonging to—and a foreigner in—each moment, a world where “the only word for
me is stranger / but I am your long-lost sister.” With knowing tenderness and intent
curiosity, these poems traverse lands, languages, and rituals, spiritual and sacred,
searching for home, for love.
—Laura Eve Engel, author of Things That Go
Knobloch’s poems are elegant, spare, authoritative. Every poem in Do Not Return is
a pleasurable and thought-provoking journey. This is a wonderful and deeply moving
—Yehoshua November, author of Two Worlds Exist and God’s Optimism
Sorrow is the word that comes to mind when reading Julia Knobloch’s Do Not Return.
Not sadness or melancholy or heartbreak or grief, but sorrow, this more old-fashioned
word that’s all but out of use in America, that comes from the Old World Knobloch
tenderly evokes in poem after poem, the one she can’t return to, that is irrevocably
lost. Something more final, more devastating, more Heathcliff on the moors—a feeling
largely missing from contemporary American poetry. In poems like “The State of
Things,” “Daylight Saving Time,” and the utterly gut-wrenching “Industry City,”
where she elegizes the death of a bike that’s come to represent all her immigrant
“dreams lived but unfulfilled” in New York City, Knobloch writes with a sorrow that
startles you and shakes you and stays with you, making you, ironically, want to return
—Jason Koo, author of More Than Mere Light
Do Not Return
Author photo by Jody Christopherson