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Cities

Elaine Feinstein

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Paperback
ISBN: 978 1 847770 61 5
Categories: 21st Century, Jewish, Women
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: June 2010
216 x 135 x 5 mm
64 pages
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: eBook (EPUB), eBook (Kindle)
  • Description
  • Excerpt
  • Author
  • Contents
  • Awards
  • Reviews
  • In the messy flat of Janos Pilinszky,
    his most loved records lie
    without sleeves, horizontal
    on his bookshelves. See,
    his parchment face is bloodless,
    lit like a lamp from within,
    his bones fine, his lips
    shrewdly curved, humorous.   

                      from 'Budapest'



    Cities is a book of travels, from Basel to Budapest, Tampico to Tiblisi – and from the child in wartime Leicester to a 'fortune beyond any deserving / to be still here' in a London garden, eight decades later. 'Migrations', the book's opening poem, celebrates the recurring 'filigree of migration, symbiosis, assimilation'. Inheriting 'a long history of crossing borders', Feinstein explores the haunted landscape between past and present, public history and personal memory, in simple intense lyrics.


    Cover Photograph: Kobi Israel / Millennium Images, UK (detail).

    Contents

    Migrations 
    Wartime Leicester 
    Cambridge, 1949 
    Portugal Place, Cambridge 
    Piaf in Babraham 
    At the Chelsea 
    Basel 
    Jerusalem 
    Warsaw, 1973 
    Lublin, 1973 
    Krakow, 1973 
    Budapest 
    St Petersburg 
    Borscht in Odessa 
    A Dream of Prague 
    Tbilisi 
    Rush Cutter Bay, Sydney 
    A Weekend in Berlin, 2008 
    Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge 
    A Night in Lisbon 
    Three Fado Songs by Jose Carlos Ary dos Santos
    Rose of Night 
    The Tiles of Lisbon 
    Alfama 
    Arson in Hanià, Crete 
    Loss 
    Christmas Day in Willesden Green 
    Stetl in Belorus 
    Festival in Tampico 
    Isaiah Berlin in Rome 
    A Garden in North Germany 
    Dizzy in Westminster 
    Prizes 
    Butterflies Lost 
    Sweet Corn 
    Long Life 




    Elaine Feinstein is a poet, novelist, and biographer. She has received many prizes, including a Cholmondeley Award for Poetry, Society of Authors', Wingate and Arts Council Awards, the Daisy Miller Prize for her experimental novel The Circle, (long-listed for the ‘lost’ Man Booker prize in 2010) and an Honorary D.Litt ... read more
    Awards won by Elaine Feinstein Commended, 2017 The Poetry Book Society Special Commendation (The Clinic, Memory)
    'The strangeness of visited cities, with their fearful histories, has been transmuted here by the responses of a truly gifted poet.'
    Dannie Abse
     'Cities presents itself as the work of old age, but readers expecting regret or renunciation will be surprised by the affirmative character of this book. While Elaine Feinstein revisits Europe in the aftermath of Nazism, she also praises the good fortune of having lived richly in the sphere of literature and travelled widely among remarkable people. The poems here are lit with striking clarity - things retain their outline and solidity to an unusual degree.'
    Sean O'Brien
    'Elaine Feinstein has made the juncture between poetry and memoir her own. As befits a poet who is also a master of fiction and biography, she writes with casual erudition and an acute storyteller's eye. Her forays into European culture and history are dazzling. Cities is a profoundly humane, intimate exploration of the places and stages by which a life acquires meaning.'
    Fiona Sampson
    Praise for Elaine Feinstein   'Here we have a life, a person in the world opened up with intelligence and tact.'
    Martina Evans, The Irish Times
      'Here we have a life, a person in the world opened up with intelligence and tact.'
    Martina Evans, The Irish Times
      'Here we have a life, a person in the world opened up with intelligence and tact.'
    Martina Evans, The Irish Times
      'Here we have a life, a person in the world opened up with intelligence and tact.'
    Martina Evans, The Irish Times
    'She is an extremely fine poet. She has a sinewy, tenacious way of penetrating and exploring the core of her subject that seems to me unique. Her simple, clean language follows the track of the nerves. There is nothing hit or miss, nothing for effect, nothing false. Reading her poems one feels cleansed and sharpened.'
    Ted Hughes
    'All poets are Jews, said Marina Tsvetaeva. Elaine Feinstein, Britain's most distinguished Jewish poet, was her first translator into English and has a wonderful wiry lyricism of her own, influenced both by Russian poetry and by Charles Olson and the Black Mountain poets. She has written here a unique blend of poetry, history and personal memoir, a descent into the heartbreaking and ground breaking vistas of Russian Jewry, and Russian literary figures of the twentieth century. The poets of genius whom she did not know alive, she knows equally intimately in the best way in which one poet knows another - by learning, reading, studying, translating. The book opens with her memories of renting a flat in a rundown quarter of St Petersberg in 2005, and also with Marina Tsetaeva accepting, as Virgil accepted for Dante, the role of guide to the underworld of colourful and talented figures Feinstein has known in her rich literary life, both in Russia, London and Cambridge.'
    Ruth Padel
    'In this fascinating, lyrical meditation on literature, politics, suffering and friendship, Elaine Feinstein - a biographer of poets and a poet of the first rank herself - takes us on a richly imagined journey through a lost literary archipelago, and reconstructs the lives and fates of Russian, often Jewish, writers during the long age of Soviet terror. Combining family history, travels through modern Russia and very personal encounters with famous ghosts, Feinstein evokes, throughpoetry and prose, both the inferno of cruelty and persecutions, and a golden Jerusalem of creativity, talent and intense literary bonds. This is a moving, original work, for which Feinstein has created a selection of poems worthy of the predecessors she admires.'
    Eva Hoffman
    'Like numerous English readers, I owe my discovery of Tsvetaeva to the multi-talented poet and writer, Elaine Feinstein... Feinstein's translations prove that a poem can be re-born in its adoptive language.'
    Carol Rumens
     'Talking to the Dead is arguably Elaine Feinstein's best collection. Beautifully crafted, deeply felt, totally earned, these poems of love and bereavement, and more, will expand her readership well beyond the readers and writers of contemporary poetry who have long loved and treasured her exemplary contribution to the art.'
    Carol Ann Duffy
     'Beautiful, generous, wonderfully intense poems ... Anyone who has ever felt comforted in grief by words, or who has lived through that tension between tenderness, longing and guilt, will recognize their precision and their truth.'
    Ruth Padel
     'These are more than elegies, they are alchemy; the emotional force of the book is so strong that the dead come walking out of the pages.'
    Jo Shapcott
     'For more than 40 years, Feinstein has been writing intensely lyrical, finely crafted poems. Those in [Talking to the Dead] are honest and moving, and are among her very best.'
    No. 1 in
    'The Ten Best New poetry collections' - the Independent, 2007
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