For the Birds is the moving, assured debut collection of poems from Ukrainian-born Victoria Melkovska, an Irish resident for the past 20 years. From reflections on her early life in the former Soviet Union (We Were from the USSR) to the new arrival’s first impressions of life in in Ireland (New Land, New Home), For the Birds explores and explains these two worlds to each other, and indeed to the poet herself, in poems that contribute in a uniquely personal way to one of the most significant conversations of our time.
In the book’s third section, (Warzone), darkness disturbingly takes centre stage. Protected from the immediate dangers yet powerless in the face of them, Melkovska responds to the invasion of her homeland with poems of determined focus and unsettling detail, her poetry rising to a kind of defence of what she, and what all of us, hold dear.
Melkovska’s evocative poems bring a fresh, East European perspective to urban Irish life, an eye sharp and hungry for detail. Clothes pegs are ‘rare featherless birds’, their ‘beaks together opened in a mute song’ (‘Pegs’). Trying on a second hand dress in a charity shop has her ‘Headfirst’ ‘diving into this gown’, to ‘reappear, in the lake of the mirror…’ (‘Pre-Loved’). While there is horror and outrage at the ‘Rashist’ (Russian Fascist) invasion of her original homeland, more personal crises, such as cancer, are met with a stoic, resilient humour. For The Birds invites the reader to take these open-hearted poems at their word and dive ‘headfirst’.
– Mark Granier
For the Birds
ISBN 9781915629111 PB
ISBN 9781915629104 HB