Born in a refugee camp after World War II, John Guzlowski came with his family to the United States as a Displaced Person in 1951. His parents had been Polish slave laborers in Nazi Germany. Growing up in the immigrant and refugee neighborhoods around Humboldt Park in Chicago, he met hardware store clerks with Auschwitz tattoos on their wrists, Polish cavalry officers who still mourned for their dead comrades, and women who had walked from Siberia to Iran to escape the Russians. His poetry, fiction, and essays try to remember them and their voices.
His poems also remember his parents, who survived their slave labor experiences in Nazi Germany. A number of these poems appear in his books Language of Mules, Lightning and Ashes (Steel Toe Books), and Third Winter of War: Buchenwald (Finishing Line Press).
Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Milosz, reviewing the Polish translation of Language of Mules, for the journal Tygodnik Powszechny, said, “This volume astonished me.”