I do hope your week is going well, my shimmering little book buffs. Here at Malvern we’re frantically getting ourselves all packed up for this weekend’s Texas Book Festival. We’ll see you there, right? Wonderful! Look for us in Booth 500, right next to the lovely folks from Austin Community College. Meanwhile, if you’re in urgent need of a dash of poetry, you should stop by the bookstore and say hello to Katherine Noble (right), who has superb recommendations vis–à–vis verse. Here’s what she has to say about one of her faves, Valzhyna Mort’s Collected Body:
Belarusian poet Valzhyna Mort has been praised as “[a] risen star of the international poetry world” by the Irish Times. In Collected Body, Mort combines gorgeous and haunting lyrical poems with two prose poems in her first collection written completely in English. The motifs running through the collection paint a picture of people in their most corporeal, vulnerable state. The poems dichotomize idealized sexuality with the grotesque, the purity of familial ties with the perversion of incest, the surreal mingling with the physical world, and the unabashed acknowledgment of death.
Mort’s collection falls in line with many of the great female poets of today such as Sharon Olds, Anne Carson, Linda Gregg, and Louise Glück, but the freshness of her images, and her distinctive voice grants Mort her own solid ground. The mythology cast in her more narrative poems is interspersed with a fresh honesty that can sometimes be either overdone or missing completely in contemporary poetry (“i found healing/… should i be ashamed of myself?”). The understated grotesqueries are remnants of German and Austrian fairytales.
With an array of characters, seemingly based loosely on her own personal history, Mort’s poems feel like secret histories of her homeland, to which she slowly allows the reader to be privy. I highly recommend this book!