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This review is taken from PN Review 161, Volume 31 Number 3, January - February 2005.

GIVING KINGSLEY AMIS VIAGRA RADMILA LAZIĆ, A Wake for the Living, translated by Charles Simic (Bloodaxe) £8.95

If Radmila Lazić were British there would undoub tedly be a sprightlier title than the somewhat lugubrious one chosen for the translation of her poems by the Gray Wolf Press and picked up for an English edition by Bloodaxe. Besides giving that least marketable of genres, poetry in translation, a commerci al title it might also actually give the reader in the book store an immediate sense of what Lazić's poems are about. Simply, most of them are concerned with sex and middle-aged sex at that. Her poems despite being potentially popular are not slapdash in e xecution or, in terms of their subject matter, obsessively serious in the manner of a Sharon Olds. Conversational in register and inventive in imagery, their language is hard and opulent as a diamond, at least in the original Serbian. Some idea of her verbal inventiveness can be gained from examples in English such as 'The blood type of our souls is different' or 'I'm no longer the little chrysanthemum / For you to scratch your balls with'. There is enormous range from the brief elegiac lyric such as 'Pleasures' through a recipe on how to discard a man that one no longer loves in 'The Meal', or satirical portrait in 'My Fellow' of a middleaged man 'Whose prick dangles more and more / Like a severed chicken neck', to longer tours de force such as 'Dorothy Parker Blues' and 'Sorry, My Lord', these two being lacerating 'confessions' the latter verging on blasphemy. ...


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