This Lamentable City

This Lamentable City by Polina Barskova, translated by Ilya Kaminsky and others. Tupelo Press, 2010.

I was deeply impressed with this slight volume packed with sensual, visceral language that borders often on the grotesque. It is startling, rhythmically potent work that uses lines and enjambment to great effect, something I often find lacking in contemporary poetry both in original-language and in translation. Here, the English of the (collaborative) translation works carefully with rhythm and sound, but without drowning out the accent, those slips and strangenesses that indicate this is a work from a different context entirely. This is not naturalized or domesticated, not homogenized into the English standards of poetry. Incantatory, absorbing and very impressive.

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