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06May

The best recent poetry – review roundup

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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