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New Irish Voices
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Liberty Walks Naked
by Maram al-Masri, trans. Theo Dorgan



Chapbooks by Fool for Poetry
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Not in Heaven by Molly Minturn
Bog Arabic by Bernadette McCarthy




Richesses: Francophone Songwriter Poets
Edited and translated by Aidan Hayes





Munster Literature Centre

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Valzhyna MortValzhyna Mort was born in Minsk, Belarus. Her first book of poetry, I'm as Thin as Your Eyelashes, came out in Belarus in 2005. In 2004 in Slovenia she received a Crystal Vilencia Award for best poetry performance. She was the recipient, in 2005, of a Gaude Polonia scholarship in Poland, and, in 2006, of a writing fellowship from Literarisches Colloquium Berlin, Germany. A collection in English, A Factory of Tears, was published in 2008 by Copper Canyon Press. She is currently a poet-in-residence at the University of Baltimore, USA.







Sylt II

Unter der Linden




Sylt II


the wind that makes your hair grow faster

opens a child’s mouth full of strawberry and sand.

slow and sure

on the scales of the ocean

the child’s head outweighs the sun.


inside of the wind—

a blister of a church,

its walls thicker than the space from wall to wall

where the wind shifts shade and light

like two rival chess pieces

or two unmatched pieces of furniture.

inside of the church—such a stillness

that when a feather floats down in a fist of dust

it becomes a rock by the time it hits the ground.


organ pipes glint like a cold radiator,

contained in a case of a carved tree, its branches

tied up with a snake.

organ pedals, golden and plump, are the tree’s only fruit.


it is all about the release of weight:

the player crushes the pedals like grapes underneath his feet.

my body, like an inaccurate cashier, adds your weight to itself.

your name, called into the wind,

slows the wind down.


when a body is ripe, it falls and rots from the softest spot.


only when a child slips and drops off a tree,

the tree suddenly learns that it is barren.




Unter der Linden

to Vladek


she folds her arms where one day her chest will fold into breasts,

if that’s something women in her family have secured,

if theirs hung, and had chapped-elbow teats.

she folds her arms because in a house

of such shaky uneven walls

nobody should be expected to learn handwriting. 


her uncle limps, stutters, and winks. the clock's hands

fold in a prayer, when he comes to eat

a dish bleached in sour cream, to put his chewed

bread over her bruised

letters. on the verandah steps

he likes to lift her up and breathe into her face     

a german song about russian rivers. 


this land and sky are glued together with pressed out guts

of a dried butterfly -

a one street village with wings of garden to each side. 

she holds her pen like a spoon. her pursed lips

frown at the horizon line. 


two lindens keep the kitchen window busy.  

one day, her uncle sings,

whole street of lindens!

you will be running to the man who lies

in the ripped out belly of his bathtub, 

when a whole street of linden trees

steps out of night

like all the women he has ever had,

they hold out their own bodies like towels,

and whisper: take us, sister, dry him with us.


that’s when she’ll wipe her hands of ink and sweat.


©2009 Valzhyna Mort



Author Links


Video, Audio and Poems at Blue Flower Arts

Interview with Mort in the Irish Times

Mort at Poets & Writers Magazine




©2009 Southword Editions
Munster Literature Centre

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