A Secret Life by Milan Děžinský, trans. By Nathan Fields
Milan Děžinský’s poems twist and turn through murky forests and dig into the debris of the world: its hidden motivations, overlooked objects, and mysterious wounds. From the “dead-motionless floating island,/ sinking into the shadows” to the hazelnut that’s been “burrowing all the way to the bottom” of the muesli bowl, Děžinský brings the otherwise unseen into eerie half-light. This collection is unsettling, concise, dark, mischievous, and emotionally astute. It’s a great opportunity to discover one of the finest exponents of the current renaissance of Czech poetry, through Nathan Fields’s fluent translations.
“Milan Děžinský writes at 'the edge of the ordinary', about the 'secret life' of the seemingly mundane – there are poems here about a bowl of muesli, the armpit of a TV star, ironing, slicing bread. But his work is also full of surprises and traps, mined with philosophy, allusion, and existential dread. Piercing in their truthfulness, Děžinský's masterly poems will not allow us to unsee the 'celery's fuse'.” – Clare Pollard
“All hail to Nathan Fields, and Blue Diode, for drawing our attention to Milan Děžinský's A Secret Life – his flights inside 'monstrous banality' to extract 'the one atom of oxygen that Cleopatra exhaled'. Wry and invertedly-romantic, slyly humorous, yet drawn to the telling, grim detail that wakes us up; rarely has stoic pessimism been so gorgeously gilded...” – Matthew Caley