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Poetry Canadian

small things left behind

by (author) Ella Zeltserman

The University of Alberta Press
Initial publish date
Aug 2014
Canadian, Russia & the Former Soviet Union
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2014
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2014
    List Price

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"Freedom is something my father has never known. How do I explain freedom to the ones born bent?" -from "Not Scared" Ella Zeltserman's poetry cuts both ways. The story of her flight from the USSR in 1979-of the young family she brought to Edmonton and the older one she left behind-does "explain freedom to the ones born bent," but it also explains oppression to the ones born free. Deftly modulating language, imagery, and events of past and present, comfort and tyranny, atrocity and family, home and war, Leningrad and Edmonton, she touches readers emotionally, drawing them into the journey. This authentic account of Russian-Jewish immigration to Canada during the Cold War will speak to all who have left their country or who moved far away from home.

About the author

Ella Zeltserman is an award-winnipeg Soviet-born poet living in Edmonton, Canada, where she is an active member of the local poetry community. Her poetry has been published in a number of anthologies and magazines.

Ella Zeltserman's profile page


  • Winner, Western Canada Jewish Book Awards
  • Winner, Robert Kroetsch Poetry Book Award, Alberta Book Publishing Awards, Book Publishers Association of Alberta
  • Short-listed, Book Design of the Year, Alberta Book Publishing Awards, Book Publishers Association of Alberta

Editorial Reviews

"Ella Zeltserman waited decades to pen her experiences of oppression and liberation.... In these 38 poems, small things left behind weaves a big story. It traces the poet's bold quest for a better life after she sees a Soviet documentary of a Russian-Jewish immigration... Zeltserman's story of the human cost of leaving one country, one life, for another, has made her an important voice." Fall/Winter 2014

Prairie Books Now

"Her first collection of powerfully sad and hopeful, full of Russian history and personal histories, her family, herself." [Full interview at]

The Jane Day Reader

"Ella's is an important story for all readers and she tells it with razor-sharp prose and exquisite imagery. The poems tell a story of politics and family, of leaving and arriving, of displacement and longing... [A] book that belongs in schools and classrooms, on the shelves of libraries and in homes as a treasured part of a family collection."

Edmonton Jewish News

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