Bookface Blog

Archive by tag: Rebecca TamásReturn
May 06, 2022

Music for the Dead and Resurrected by Valzhyna Mort; Out for Air by Olly Todd; Hiding to Nothing by Anita Pati; Emblem by Lucy Mercer; The Golden Thread by Amali Gunasekera

Music for the Dead and Resurrected by Valzhyna Mort (Bloomsbury, £9.99)
“Do you know what a ghost looks like? / It looks like blood.” Valzhyna Mort’s newest book in English could not feel more timely, despite UK publication lagging behind that of the US. Mort, a poet and translator from Belarus who now lives in the US, gives us wrenching poems of war, and of the struggle of living under the threats of imperial forces. Here, the languages of home and conflict twist together: “My motherland rattles its bone-keys. / A bone is a key to my motherland”; “On the borderlines of my motherland / wet laundry claps in the wind like gunfire.” Mort communicates the terrible psychological impacts of war and oppression in the grand tradition of Soviet-era poets such as Mandelstam and Akhmatova – “an air-raid warning rings / like a telephone from the future”. Each rich, dazzlingly intelligent poem brings to life the agonising toll history takes on the innocent.

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Dec 05, 2020

A fierce and clear-eyed debut that finds a fresh way to explore humankind’s role in environmental chaos

The novelist and poet Daisy Lafarge’s TS Eliot prize shortlisted debut collection offers a fresh kind of ecological poetry, one that merges a lyric voice and an experimental sensibility to meet the complicated reality of our contemporary moment. Life Without Air makes a multitude of connections between human beings and the world of the non-human. However, unlike with some more traditional nature poetry, Lafarge does not use the environment as just a backdrop, or fodder for metaphor. Rather, this is a work of true interrelation, albeit one that never falls into easy or holistic union. Her long poem “Dredging the Baotou Lake” considers a lake in Inner Mongolia, poisoned by the mineral mining that feeds our technologies. For Lafarge, this site opens up the unsettling and toxic links between human affect, capitalist oppression and environmental chaos:

… lest we forget
the screen of your phone

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