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This review is taken from PN Review 244, Volume 45 Number 2, November - December 2018.

Cover of Tidal Events: Selected Poems, translated by James Sutherland-Smith
Ian SeedFeeling with the Creatures
Mária Ferenčuhová, Tidal Events: Selected Poems, trans. James Sutherland-Smith (Shearsman), £9.95;
Luljeta Lleshanaku, Negative Space, trans. by Ani Gjika (Bloodaxe), £12
Mária Ferenčuhová was born in Bratislava in 1975. As well as being a poet with four collections to her name, Ferenčuhová is editor of the film magazine King-Icon, has written a study of documentary film, and is a translator from French. This is worth mentioning because the aesthetics of both film and French literature evidently inform her poetry. The presence of Baudelaire, for example, can be felt in Ferenčuhová’s ‘City Map’ and ‘Illuminated Cities’ sequences. As for film, I would venture that there is a neorealist ethics and aesthetics at work. By ‘neorealism’, one should not understand some kind of heavy socialist realism – far from it – but rather an experimental neorealism in the manner that Italo Calvino practised and theorised in the 1940s. In neorealism, the reality being ‘re-presented’ can be as fragmented as it is cohesive in order to reproduce distortions in perceptions, caused, for example, by the experience of living through a bombing raid or more simply of walking through the streets of a city where what one sees, hears and smells is constantly changing. Ferenčuhová’s writing is also neorealist in the sense that it is a committed literature. Just as neorealism emerged from the devastation of World War II, so much of Ferenčuhová’s poetry comes out of the destruction of our ecological system.

Her poetry navigates the impact of the way we live, both on us as individual human beings and more widely on our environment. Rather than being visionary in any grandiose sense, it brings reality to life through observations of ...

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