Please indulge me in some non-Buenos Aires related news. One of my friends, an enormously talented and humble poet named Valzhyna, has a new book entitled Factory of Tears. Her second book of poetry was published by my all-time favorite press, the well respected Copper Canyon.
The press has published some of my writing “mentors” and deep imagist poets such as W.S. Merwin, Marvin Bell, and Pablo Neruda.
Valzhyna is from Belarus and writes in Belarusian. Her work is emphatic–her words are sparse, clipped, and click to the tongue. I firmly believe she is one of our generation’s best young writers and can’t wait to see what’s in store for her. The writer Franz Wright is translating her work.
Valzyna graciously allowed me to share one of her poems.
Belarusian, translated by Franz Wright
even our mothers have no idea how we got here
how we parted their legs and crawled out into the world
the way you crawl from the ruins after a bombing
we couldn’t tell which of us was a girl or a boy
and we gorged on dirt thinking it was bread
and our future a gymnast on a thin
thread of the horizon was performing there
at the highest pitch
we grew up in a country where
first your door is stroked with chalk
and then at dark a chariot arrives
and no one sees you any more
but riding in those cars were neither
armed men nor
a wanderer with a scythe
this is how love loved to visit us
and snatch us veiled
completely free only in public toilets
where for a little change nobody cared what we were doing
we fought the summer heat the winter snow
and when we discovered we ourselves were the language
and our tongues were removed we started talking with our eyes
and when our eyes were poked out we talked with our hands
and when our hands were cut off we conversed with our toes
and when we were shot in the legs we nodded our head for yes
and shook our heads for no and when they ate our heads alive
we crawled back into the bellies of our sleeping mothers
as if into bomb shelters
to be born again
and there on the horizon our future’s gymnast
was leaping through the fiery hoop
of the sun
Valzhyna’s book, Factory of Tears, can be found here.