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Sarajevo Roses by Rory Waterman

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Sarajevo Roses is Rory Waterman’s second collection of poems. From the start we are in the company of a poet on the move . On sleeper trains, in cars and on foot, Waterman takes us into Mediterranean Europe, to Palma’s Bellver Castle, to Venice, to Krujë, to the Italian ghost-town Craco, and to St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, where ‘selfie-sticks dance before us at the altar’. Sarajevo’s ‘neatened muddle of terracotta and concrete’ is twinned with the ‘church spires and rain-bright roofs’ of the poet’s former hometown, Lincoln.

The Sarajevo rose of the book’s title – a mortar crater filled with red resin, in remembrance – is less an overarching symbol here than one example of the past inscribed upon the present – culturally in our architecture, individually on our bodies – and of the instinct to preserve wounds as a mark of respect, or warning. Surrounded by the war-shaped, memorial landscapes of Europe, the poet is faced by those smaller wars and memorials one carries within, marks left by lovers, friends, relations, and past selves. 

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