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In her book of letters to the dead, the prize-winning poet Valzhyna Mort relearns how to mourn those erased by violent history. With shocking, unforgettable lyric force, Valzhyna Mort's Music for the Dead and Resurrected confronts the legacy of violent death in one family in Belarus. In these letters to the dead, the poet asks: How do we mourn after a century of propaganda? In her book of letters to the dead, the prize-winning poet Valzhyna Mort relearns how to mourn those erased by violent history. With shocking, unforgettable lyric force, Valzhyna Mort's Music for the Dead and Resurrected confronts the legacy of violent death in one family in Belarus. In these letters to the dead, the poet asks: How do we mourn after a century of propaganda? Can private stories challenge the collective power of Soviet and American historical mythology? Mort traces a route of devastation from the Chernobyl fallout and a school system controlled by ideology to the Soviet labor camps and the massacres of World War II. While musical form serves as a safe house for the poet's voice, old trees speak to her as the only remaining witnesses, hosts to both radiation and memory. Valzhyna Mort, born in Belarus and now living in the United States, conjures a searing, hallucinogenic ritual of rhythmic remembrance in a world where appeals to virtue and justice have irrevocably failed.


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In her book of letters to the dead, the prize-winning poet Valzhyna Mort relearns how to mourn those erased by violent history. With shocking, unforgettable lyric force, Valzhyna Mort's Music for the Dead and Resurrected confronts the legacy of violent death in one family in Belarus. In these letters to the dead, the poet asks: How do we mourn after a century of propaganda? In her book of letters to the dead, the prize-winning poet Valzhyna Mort relearns how to mourn those erased by violent history. With shocking, unforgettable lyric force, Valzhyna Mort's Music for the Dead and Resurrected confronts the legacy of violent death in one family in Belarus. In these letters to the dead, the poet asks: How do we mourn after a century of propaganda? Can private stories challenge the collective power of Soviet and American historical mythology? Mort traces a route of devastation from the Chernobyl fallout and a school system controlled by ideology to the Soviet labor camps and the massacres of World War II. While musical form serves as a safe house for the poet's voice, old trees speak to her as the only remaining witnesses, hosts to both radiation and memory. Valzhyna Mort, born in Belarus and now living in the United States, conjures a searing, hallucinogenic ritual of rhythmic remembrance in a world where appeals to virtue and justice have irrevocably failed.

30 review for Music for the Dead and Resurrected: Poems

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    Valzhyna Mort is a Belarusian poet who now lives in the United States. These poems deal largely with the ghosts of after - war, disaster, occupation - and ask what should be spoken of and how we can deal with our memories. Bus Stops: Ars Poetica Little Songs "...But under that roof, folded like dead man's hands over the house, we still live..." If you've read A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, something about the tone felt very similar to me, the way the people living in the village are also living a Valzhyna Mort is a Belarusian poet who now lives in the United States. These poems deal largely with the ghosts of after - war, disaster, occupation - and ask what should be spoken of and how we can deal with our memories. Bus Stops: Ars Poetica Little Songs "...But under that roof, folded like dead man's hands over the house, we still live..." If you've read A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, something about the tone felt very similar to me, the way the people living in the village are also living alongside the dead.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    "Genesis" I've always preferred Cain. His angry loneliness, his lack of mother's love, his Christian sarcasm: 'Am I my brother's keeper?' asks his brother's murderer. Aren't we indeed the keepers of our dead? Let me start again: I prefer apples that roll far from the tree. Dry like a twig is umbilical cord, tucked between legs. How did they cut it, Cain? With a stone? Under Criminal Record write, "Mother, home." Under Weapon write, "Mother, home." "Genesis" I've always preferred Cain. His angry loneliness, his lack of mother's love, his Christian sarcasm: 'Am I my brother's keeper?' asks his brother's murderer. Aren't we indeed the keepers of our dead? Let me start again: I prefer apples that roll far from the tree. Dry like a twig is umbilical cord, tucked between legs. How did they cut it, Cain? With a stone? Under Criminal Record write, "Mother, home." Under Weapon write, "Mother, home."

  3. 4 out of 5

    HJ

    Have I told you about how much I live inside your stories and not reality? This was a powerful and intricate collection of poems that wanders primarily through the twentieth century, reflecting on a tumultuous period in Belarus. What was most striking about these poems was Mort’s subjects. They were intimate stories from her family, historical events, literature and, most notably, music. What I found interesting was the frequent references to Western canonical works. There are occasional mentions Have I told you about how much I live inside your stories and not reality? This was a powerful and intricate collection of poems that wanders primarily through the twentieth century, reflecting on a tumultuous period in Belarus. What was most striking about these poems was Mort’s subjects. They were intimate stories from her family, historical events, literature and, most notably, music. What I found interesting was the frequent references to Western canonical works. There are occasional mentions of Central/Eastern European works (e.g., Rachmaninoff and Kafka). I’m not certain if this was deliberate or not, but it was striking juxtaposed to the particular setting of a nation that was—for the most part—isolated for a period of time. Yet, the numerous references not only to the arts of various origins but also geographic places present a sense of timelessness and cosmopolitan quality to this collection. In doing so, Mort spins a fascinating mythos around what she wrote, wrapping the reader in stories as opposed to reality. As previously mentioned, the most notable subject throughout this collection is music or, rather, anything pertaining to sound. Mort not only made multiple references and allegories to music, but silence is emphasized in a metaphorical and literal sense to share what it was like to be silenced. Music is not only the subject, but also a central part of these poems’ structures. There is a distinct rhythm to many of Mort’s poems, as well as careful consideration of how words sound next to one another. In doing so, Mort simultaneously depicts a respect for the living (through the sounds of words) and the dead (through the sounds of stories found in these words). Note: I received this collection of poems from NetGalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux for an honest review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    [ 2.5 stars ] 'Music for the Dead and Resurrected' is a haunting, descriptive poetry collection by Belarusian poet Valzhyna Mort, draws on a first-hand account of a past grandparent generation of the Soviet labor camps, redistribution of land, and massacres of World War II in Belarus. My favourite poem in this collection is 'Genesis'- especially the opening line: "I've always preferred Cain". She questions "does everything have to be like a poem?". To answer: no, they don't have to be. I think it [ 2.5 stars ] 'Music for the Dead and Resurrected' is a haunting, descriptive poetry collection by Belarusian poet Valzhyna Mort, draws on a first-hand account of a past grandparent generation of the Soviet labor camps, redistribution of land, and massacres of World War II in Belarus. My favourite poem in this collection is 'Genesis'- especially the opening line: "I've always preferred Cain". She questions "does everything have to be like a poem?". To answer: no, they don't have to be. I think it would have interesting to see what this collection would have been like as creative non-fiction or maybe even a memoir instead? Despite saying that, these poems are powerful and tell the narrative of Belarus and it's turbulent history. Thank you to Netgalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux for granting me this free eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinion are my own, unbiased views.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kelly K.

    I had read Factory of Tears by this poet and was interested to read a collection that she wrote without a potential barrier of translation in my reading of it. While there were moments of beauty and several striking images in this collection-- particularly of music and history-- I almost wish it was a memoir instead. ("does everything have to be like a poem?") My favorite poems here tended to be the most narrative. As another reviewer mentioned, sometimes the Western images seemed jarring, and I I had read Factory of Tears by this poet and was interested to read a collection that she wrote without a potential barrier of translation in my reading of it. While there were moments of beauty and several striking images in this collection-- particularly of music and history-- I almost wish it was a memoir instead. ("does everything have to be like a poem?") My favorite poems here tended to be the most narrative. As another reviewer mentioned, sometimes the Western images seemed jarring, and I didn't always find the repetition effective either. That being said, the whole collection does have a haunted, melodic feel to it in the best possible way. I will continue to seek out what Valzhyna Mort writes. Many thanks to NetGalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kim Lockhart

    I didn't expect to be steamrolled by a book of poetry, but here we are, staring up at the sky. My reflections: Each word taps at my bones. Want and fear are buried like mass graves in every line. This is a modern Requiem, a kind of baptismal death, sung by the trees, our sentinel witnesses. Highly recommend. I didn't expect to be steamrolled by a book of poetry, but here we are, staring up at the sky. My reflections: Each word taps at my bones. Want and fear are buried like mass graves in every line. This is a modern Requiem, a kind of baptismal death, sung by the trees, our sentinel witnesses. Highly recommend.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    Valzhyna Mort grabs onto the horrific particularity of institutional/political violence, tracing its lineage through a carefully constructed collection that, in speaking the pains of individual Belarusians, forges a global voice. These are poems concerned with rhythm, bones, teeth, snow as dirt, deaths, memory via recitation, West/East, Eve, and Adam. They coat the reader with the irradiating ash of history; the intensity of Belarusian wrought into English through the ferocity of an astonishing Valzhyna Mort grabs onto the horrific particularity of institutional/political violence, tracing its lineage through a carefully constructed collection that, in speaking the pains of individual Belarusians, forges a global voice. These are poems concerned with rhythm, bones, teeth, snow as dirt, deaths, memory via recitation, West/East, Eve, and Adam. They coat the reader with the irradiating ash of history; the intensity of Belarusian wrought into English through the ferocity of an astonishing poetic will. “Psalm 18” (first section) I pray to the trees and language migrates down my legs like mute cattle. I pray to the wooden meat that never left its roots. I, too, am meat braided into a string of thought. I pray to the trees: luminescent in the dark garden is the square star of a window frame, my old bedroom. Ghosts, my teachers!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Warren

    Read this whole book in one sitting and absolute loved it. Lyrical and haunting. Definitely plan to reread to parse through it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Heathen (Heather Derr-Smith)

  10. 4 out of 5

    Curt Anderson

  11. 4 out of 5

    Serena

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jed Krieger

  13. 5 out of 5

    Wayne Fox

  14. 5 out of 5

    Лесик Панасюк

  15. 5 out of 5

    Emily Daniel

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lily Poppen

  17. 4 out of 5

    Crystal

  18. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Bay

  19. 5 out of 5

    Peter

  20. 4 out of 5

    megan

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey Alpaugh

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mal Adams

  23. 4 out of 5

    Isabella (The Feminist Bookworm)

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ross Cohen

  25. 4 out of 5

    Isa

  26. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Dyle

  27. 5 out of 5

    Charles

  28. 5 out of 5

    Maggie D

  29. 4 out of 5

    Linda Bohlke

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

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