Apologies for my rare posting these days! It’s officially the end of the semester, I’m back home for the month and hoping to read more and blog more while I can.
I fell in love with Anna Swir when I read some of her work in A Book of Luminous Things, and I quickly ran to Amazon to look for other translations of her poetry. There weren’t many, and I decided to put my purchase on hold until well past the holiday season; however, I did add this book to my Secret Santa wishlist, and was overjoyed to find it in the mail this week!
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This translation was published in the late 80’s by a seemingly feminist publisher, Women’s Press, in the UK. The introduction calls Anna Świrszczyńska (Swir) the only (or first, as I’m sure there are plenty now) Polish feminist poet, which I would contend to be quite a true and lovely thing.
Image via Goodreads
“Three Loves” is the first section of poetry, one divided into three subsections (Felicity’s Love, Antonia’s Love, and Stephanie’s Love). These sections were full of profound yet simple poetry; the introduction discusses Swir’s simple diction, something that doesn’t detract from the meaning in her poetry in the slightest. Much of Swir’s writing here deals with sex, sexuality, and often her writing showed that sex and pleasure weren’t contingent upon love. She also wrote beautifully on independence, even if it meant avoiding commitment.
We move on to “Mother and Daughter,” the second section of poetry to find an opening poem about the death of the speaker’s mother, something wholly different from the previous sensuality, but not wholly different from the depth of pain and emotion that Swir showed us earlier. Here we see a sentimentality that is vulnerable and stunning, and before too long the shift from the death of a mother to becoming one is enthralling. One of my personal favorites from this section was “Patriarchy,” though I’ll avoid spoiling it for you.
The third and final section is entitled “I’m the Old Woman,” and it deals with the many horrors that women and girls face. Swir writes much on the plight of womanhood and motherhood, as well as broaching topics like molestation and domestic violence. The reader notices a shift here; the previous sections were written mostly in first person, the speaker describing her own life, while here we see Swir writing in almost exclusively second person. This distance that she gives herself allows the reader to get through the third section of the book with the necessary lens.
Overall, this is quite a thoroughly feminist book of poetry. I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone interested in poetry and/or feminism.
I give this collection of poetry a 9.5/10.