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fischerova_sylvaby Ilya Kaminsky

Sylva Fischerova is a poet like no other. What does that mean? It means that here we have a poet who “lives with the dead,” who “finishes their gestures” and raves and dances and loves in a large way, with both arms open. But she also whispers, conjures, casts a spell.


She speaks of fate, but not “as in Greek tragedy / where you carry it inside / where it’s written in your eyes.” Her fate is “like rain: a branch fallen, / right in front of you, / pointing to the graveyard.” This is a voice that speaks without patronizing, that knows of mystery but admits that “in the last room, / the soul tied up in a password,/ which I’m not gonna tell you –”. This refusal to say, with all its warmth, love, verbal skill, aplomb, and fireworks of the highest order, is wisdom.


She is not just one of the most important European poets alive, she is also one of the few European poets who is great fun to read, without compromising the truth, without selling out the magic. She entertains in the old way, still teaching the lesson. Her phrases are both utterly playful and utterly instructive: “what the Greeks / died in admiration of, /all these are statues./ They can’t eat spinach. Can’t see/ how you, before the mirror, / try to find yourself, / the inside of your statue.”


Fisherova teaches me something new each time I open her books. This is a poet to live with.