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Minsk [Hardcover]

Lavinia Greenlaw
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

18 Sep 2003
Minsk is Lavinia Greenlaw's third collection, and the first since the title poem of A World Where News Travelled Slowly won the Forward Prize for the year's finest poem of 1997. From London Zoo to an Essex village and the Arctic Circle, Greenlaw explores questions of place - the childhood landscapes we leave behind, those we travel towards, and those like 'Minsk' which we believe to be missing from our lives. Greenlaw's restless, inquisitive tone builds to make Minsk a hypnotic collection from one of the leading poets of her generation.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber; First Edition edition (18 Sep 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 057121780X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571217809
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 13.4 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,036,040 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

UK PRAISE FOR LAVINIA GREENLAW"Everything Greenlaw touches glitters and resonates, her discipline and skill allowing her to be serious, soulful, knockabout, funny and down-right strange in the course of a few lines."-VOGUE"Her work is . . . lingeringly memorable for the way it combines an excited way of thinking with a calm way of looking." -ANDREW MOTION, THE OBSERVER --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

Minsk is Lavinia Greenlaw’s third collection, and the first since the title poem of A World Where News Travelled Slowly won the Forward Prize for the year’s finest poem of 1997. From London Zoo to an Essex village and the Arctic Circle, Greenlaw explores questions of place – the childhood landscapes we leave behind, those we travel towards, and those like ‘Minsk’ which we believe to be missing from our lives. Greenlaw’s restless, inquisitive tone builds to make Minsk a hypnotic collection from one of the leading poets of her generation.

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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars her best yet 1 Dec 2003
By A. Craig HALL OF FAME
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Lavinia Greenlaw's previous two collections have shown her to be among the most interesting and gifted poets in Britain, but this collection is outstanding. Some seem to be inspired by her childhood; others by observing animals in London Zoo ("An arrangement of parts, the giraffe/carries himself off, all height, no wieght"). The vigour and wit of her imagery (Blackwater starts "Where the coastline doubles up on itself/as if punched in the gut by the god Meander") is matched by a thoughtful melancholy. The most powerful is The Flight of Geryon, inspired by Canto XVll of Dante's Inferno, which becomes an extended metaphor for the terror implicit in trusting someone. The latter poems describe a period in the Arctic Circle. A striking collection, dominated by themes of travel, loss and hope, it has already been short-listed for the Whitbread Prize for Poetry. It deserves to win.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sleek and uncompromising 8 April 2005
By Luan Gaines - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Austere does not necessarily imply cool or aloof, but rather a refined sensibility for the elementary, the unadorned, to see more in less, to perceive truths with clarity. While prior works have been clean, almost scientific, Minsk, while exuding the chill of winter, is nevertheless a vehicle for fantasy, a dreamscape of an imagined land.

In a thoughtful forward, Edward Hirsh discusses the direction of Greenlaw's poetry, her fascination with issues of time and space, but with secret electricity, a current of morality. He states that Greenlaw is a winter writer and her icy landscapes explore questions of place.

Looking back, the past is examined, the bright promise of youth:

"Did we not remember the curse of this place?

How Sundays drank our blood as we watched

dry paint or the dust on the television screen." (Zombies)

Intoxicated by the newness of the world, it is possible to believe in beginnings and ignore reality:

"How people died bursting out of a quiet life,

or from being written into a small world's stories." (Ibid.)

The poet's impressions allow us to reflect, to root around in memories sparked by a phrase, an image. Like art, good poetry is visual and Greenlaw's deft touch challenges form, stating bluntly that this is poetry, these are the words meant to be, in columns or sideways, pulled from the past or fresh as this morning. History and myth loom large, images of a lifetime ago, when stories passed by word of mouth, in rhyme, in song. Complex and stunning, Greenlaw has stepped further out on the ice-encrusted pond, daring it to hold:

"They fold their robes, test each rung,

half-enter a pool pinched in three feet of ice.

Each swims a neat circle, wearing slippers and gloves." (Steam)

Minsk harkens the experience of untested territory, watching, measuring, feeling the cool fingers of winter, a creature walking the lands of myth:

"All the small bones of feet and hands.

What god is this we travel for hours,

getting no further than the tips of his fingers?" (Vaeroy)

Luan Gaines/2005.
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