10 May 2012

Factory Of Tears: Valzhyna Mort

"And once again according to the annual report
the highest productivity results were achieved
by the Factory of Tears.

While the Department of Transportation was breaking heels
while the Department of Heart Affairs
was beating hysterically
the Factory of Tears was working night shifts
setting new records
even on holidays.

While the Food Refinery Station
was trying to digest another catastrophe
the Factory of Tears adopted a new economically advantageous
technology of rycyling wastes from the past -
memories mostly.

The pictures of the employees of the year
were placed on the Wall of Tears.

I'm a recipient of workers' comp from the Heroic Factory of Tears.
I have acllouses on my eyes.
I have compound fractures on my cheeks.
I receive my wages with the product I manufacture.
And I'm happy with what I have."

 -  Factory Of Tears from the book of the same name by Valzhnya Mort, translated from the Belarusian by Elizabeth Oehlkers & Franz Wright, Port Townsend, Washington, Copper Canyon Press: 2008.

How fitting that Factory of Tears has been published in a bilingual edition as its author Valzhyna Mort is passionately engaged in elevating the position of her native language in world literature.  Unlike many contemporary poets, Mort does not translate "write what you know" to mean "write about yourself."   From the particulars of her native country she has made an entire world.  Her poems are models of compression.  After reading them you can peel your reactions like layers from an onion.
"In my probably unpopular-with-beginning-poets view, the only outlet that a beginning poet needs is a good library," Mort told a CBS interviewer in Baltimore where she lives currently. 
Valzhyna Mort (b. 1981) is a native of the city of Minsk in Belarus, a former Soviet Socialist Republic that is east of Poland.

Jan Toorop - Desire and Satisfaction, 1893, Musee d'Orsay, Paris.


Rouchswalwe said...

Wow! Very powerful.

Jane said...

Yes, Mort's poems are powerful. I hope the Jan Toorop image seemed apt to you as it did to me. Thanks.

ashok said...

wow! superb!

Rouchswalwe said...

Oh yes, Jane. A perfect match!

Jane said...

Ashok, thank you for the kind words. I wish I deserved the credit!

Jane said...

Rouchswalwe, I'm working on an article on Toorop, which is how I chose the image. There is more coming as soon as I can finish it.