Born in Russia and now living in Ireland, Polina Cosgrave is heir to at least two powerful poetic traditions, both of which reveal themselves to captivating effect in this fresh, lively, spirited debut collection of poems. That they were written in English is in itself an extraordinary achievement, but far from their most remarkable feature.
The steely resolve of social and political engagement interweaves here with a tender and deceptively light-handed touch in poems that address the traumas of history, of loss, of migration, but also the joys and consolations of belonging, love, and motherhood.
The outstanding title poem, previously included in Writing Home: The ‘New Irish’ Poets (2019), begins as a riff on the poet’s own autobiographical experience but quickly deepens and widens into a compelling exploration of identity itself, providing the backbone to a collection that cannot fail to surprise, entertain and, ultimately, move the reader in equal measure.
I’m a Russian girl with an Irish surname,
who was a Russian girl with a Jewish surname,
who was a Russian girl with a Russian surname
who once spent nine months in a belly of
an Armenian girl with a Russian surname.
All these surnames
I can neither acknowledge nor return,
each opening or eclipsing the other
like a Russian doll.
01 October 2020
ISBN HB 9781910251805
ISBN PB 9781910251799
140 x 216 mm