Synopses & Reviews
"Mort...strives to be an envoy for her native country, writing with almost alarming vociferousness about the struggle to establish a clear identity for Belarus and its language." —The New Yorker
“Valzyhna Mort . . . can justly be described as a risen star of the international poetry world. Her poems have something of the incantatory quality of poets such as Dylan Thomas or Allen Ginsberg. . . . She is a true original.”—Cuirt International Festival of Literature
“[T]he searing work of Valzhyna Mort . . . dazzled all who were fortunate to hear her [and] to be battered by the moods of the Belarus language which she is passionately battling to save from obscurity.”—The Irish Times
"(Mort) is most characterized by an obstinate resistance and rebellion against the devaluation of life, which forces her to multiply intelligent questions, impressive thoughts, and alluring metaphors, while her rhythm surprisingly arises as a powerful tool for the most dramatic moments of her verses....One of the best young poets in the world today."—World Literature Today
Valzhyna Mort is a dynamic young poet who writes in Belarussian at a time when efforts are being made to reestablish the traditional language in the aftermath of attempts to absorb it into Russian. Known throughout Europe for her live readings, Mort’s poetry and performances are infused by the politics of language and the poetry of revolution, where poems are prayers and weapons.
when someone spends a lot of time running
and bashing his head
against a cement wall
the cement grows warm
and he curls up with it
against his cheek
like a starfish . . .
Valzhyna Mort is a Belarussian poet known throughout Europe for her remarkable reading performances. Her poetry has been translated into several languages, and she is the recipient of the Gaude Polonia stipendium and was a poet-in-residence at Literarisches Colloquium in Berlin, Germany. She currently lives in Virginia.
Elizabeth Oehlkers Wright earned an MFA in translation from the University of Arkansas. Franz Wright won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for his book Walking to Martha’s Vineyard.
"The 26-year-old Belarusian Mort has made a big splash in Europe. With help from the popular, Pulitzer-winning Franz Wright, this thin, uneven, but decidedly exciting bilingual first U.S. edition shows how Mort's energies work. Some poems last just a few lines; others stretch out across pages of fast-moving prose, and the best bring into disturbing collision the difficult circumstances of Eastern Europe (crowds, relative poverty, bad weather) and the recent results of globalization (suicide bombers, teen culture, game shows with telephonic 'life lines'). Mort says of her compatriots in 'Belarusian I,' 'we gorged on dirt thinking it was bread' and calls 'our future/ a gymnast on a thin thread of the horizon.' Later poems reflect her move to the U.S. (she now resides in Virginia), and contemplate those who have made the same move before: of 'Polish Immigrants,' she asks, 'how do they break away from the land/ where even stones take root.' At her best, Mort shows a ragged power Americans might not otherwise know: she writes in a crackling prose poem, 'I protest against everything: low-quality goods in supermarkets, pigs in the subway, and those who protest against pigs in the subway... this is the only way to survive.' (Apr.) " Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
A young Belarussian poet co-translated by Pulitzer Prize-winner Franz Wright, who calls Valzhyna Mort "Electrifying!"
Poetry. Bilingual Edition. Translated from Belarusian by the author, Elizabeth Oehlkers Wright, and Franz Wright. In her first American publication, poet Valzhyna Mort contends with the joys and sorrows that comprise the heartache of self discovery. FACTORY OF TEARS, co-translated from the Belarusian by Elizabeth Oehlkers Wright and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Franz Wright, juxtaposes youthful coming-of-age against the struggles of a nation's emergent vitality. Self identification, national independence, and the bounty of metaphor and language take us to that edge where everything is wild. "Valzyhna Mort...can justly be described as a risen star of the international poetry world. Her poems have something of the incantatory quality of poets such as Dylan Thomas or Allen Ginsberg....She is a true original"--Cuirt International Festival of Literature.
About the Author
Valzhyna Mort was born in 1981 in Minsk, Belarus. Her poetry has been translated into many European languages and published in various literary magazines and anthologies. A dynamic reader, in 2004 she received the Crystal of Velenica Award in Slovenia, which is awarded for reading performances. She currently lives in Virginia. Elizabeth Oehlkers Wright's translations of Zafer Senocak, Zehra Cirak and other contemporary German poets have appeared widely in literary magazines and anthologies. She received an NEA Fellowship for Poetry Translation in 2003 and is German-language contributing editor for the forthcoming anthology New European Poets (Graywolf). Franz Wright is the author of several volumes of poetry, including Walking to Martha's Vineyard (2003), which received a Pulitzer Prize. He has also translated poems by René Char, Erica Pedretti, and Rainer Maria Rilke. He lives in Waltham, Massachusetts.