Music for the Dead and Resurrected

Valzhyna Mort. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $25 (112p) ISBN 978-0-374252-06-9
The elegiac third collection from Mort asks searing, meditative questions born from war, massacre, and famine. “What has kept us alive,” Mort asks before answering, “Our death songs.” These poems are indeed lyrical death songs, bearing witness to horror and wondering “How could it be that I’m from this Earth,/ yet trees are also from this Earth?” Mort’s work contrasts suffering and tragedy with the persistence of the natural world: “Of the empire’s fall/ I heard on the radio/ while waiting for a weather forecast.” Life continues, but Mort questions the complexity of idealism and corruption, and a world in which “Justice has turned out to be/ more terrifying/ than injustice.” She asks, “What to do about the etymology of us?/ Our etymology?” The stakes of humanity are central to Mort, who seeks to offer a voice to those denied one throughout history: “Have I told you about how much I live inside your stories and not reality?” These are poems of reclamation and resurrection; to live in them is to confront the hard work of witness. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 10/15/2020
Release date: 11/03/2020
Genre: Poetry
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