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from unwritten histories

poetry by Eugenijus Ališanka
translated by H. L. Hix

7" x 5.5"
173 pages

Eugenijus Ališanka's astonishing poetry collection, from unwritten histories, shuns linguistic and symbolic conventions to create a poetic landscape that is rooted in his homeland yet also connects to the shared European literary canon. Poems set in a rural Lithuanian village of the post-communist period take on a universal dimension, while in other poems unidentified shadow figures from history are reimagined within a Baltic context. These lucid, earthy poems articulate intellectual struggles in an unpretentious manner, granting the reader that which the speaker himself fears he cannot attain: the expanded ability to identify with others, as when we see the entire history of a people in the poignant detail of a man being borne to his grave wearing "his wedding suit split slightly in the back" ("nothing much"); and the attainment of self-determination within a community of others, as in the extraordinary Dickinsonian concluding poem, "once in my life," in which the speaker manages at his funeral to accomplish what "I wanted at least once in my life" to be able to do, and which these poems enable the reader to do, namely "to be myself without being alone."

Praise for from unwritten histories:

One of the commanding figures of the contemporary European poetry scene, Eugenijus Ališanka...has carved out the reputation as a major figure in letters, one of a few who has been able to do so in our time without quite reaching the mandatory old age establishment. One of the very leading poets in the notable rise to prominence of Lithuanian poetry.

– SJ Fowler, 3:AM magazine

 

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