Pamela R. Anderson
As the daughter of an American paratrooper who served during World War II—Private Jack Richardson (b.1923—d.1997)—I grew up with stories about the European front. From jumps into enemy territory with the 82 Airborne, including on D-Day, to un-named skirmishes, my father fought in Western as well as Eastern Europe. At the end of the war, his group liberated Wobbelin Concentration Camp in Germany. I still vividly recall him telling my sisters and me about opening the concentration camp gate and discovering people who looked like skeletons with skin stretched across bone. When the Americans encouraged the ambulatory few to leave, they refused, fearing that it was just one more German trick that would result in mass slaughter.
With that background firmly in my mind, I entered the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts Program (NEOMFA) with the idea of writing about Czechoslovakian resistance fighters during World War II. My extensive research into this aspect of WWII was amplified when my daughter became a Rotary exchange student in Tabor, Czechoslovakia—approximately 50 miles south of Prague. Her experiences—along with stories from her gracious and welcoming host family—provided me with a rich and detailed background into the country and its people. In 2012, I graduated from the NEOMFA program with my Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, having written a book-length poetry manuscript—Grabbing the Beast by the Throat—that focuses on Czechoslovakia from 1938 through liberation in May 1945. Several individual poems from the manuscript have been published, including “My Brother’s Coat” which won a national Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Award (published by Controlled Burn) and “Yellow Star Child” (published by JennyMag.org). “Pack It: An American Paratrooper Teaches the New Kid to Pack His Parachute” (from my newest, in-process manuscript—The American Paratrooper) was published by JennyMag.org and was recognized with a first-place Ohio award from Ohio Professional Writers, Inc. and second-place national award from the National Federation of Press Women.