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Basket of Braids by Natalia Litvinova, translated by Kelsi Vanada PRE-ORDER

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Published 24th August 2024. Available for pre-order.

The title of Basket of Braids forms a surprising image. Why would anyone store braided hair in a basket? “The women in my family / keep the hair / they cut off / in a basket of braids. // It’s an ancient tradition, / no one can remember / who started it.”

For Belarusian poet Natalia Litvinova, who immigrated with her family to Buenos Aires at the age of ten, this basket of braids symbolises the strength of the bonds between the rural Slavic women who came before her — and her own link to her heritage across time and space.

Litvinova’s poems evoke memories of the culture and place that shaped her through dense lines rich with imagery. Each poem is a jewel, a talisman, a spell, often lingering on relationships between Litvinova’s ancestors and the land they were tied to, its flora and fauna: “Our lives / are full / of distances / even horses / can’t shorten.”

Appearing for the first time in English translation by Kelsi Vanada, Basket of Braids gives readers an intimate experience of one poet’s memory and heritage, held in language like amber.

 

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