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The Cerulean Bird by Matilda Olkinaitė, trans. by Laima Vincė

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Matilda Olkinaitė was only 19 years old when, in 1941, she was murdered by Nazi collaborators in her native Lithuania. Many of the poems in this chapbook were writt en in a notebook that, prior to Matilda’s death, had been given to the Catholic parish priest, Father Juozapas Matelionis, for safekeeping. Shortly before his death, Matelionis revealed its hiding place to organist and political dissident, Alfredas Andrijauskas who, in his turn, kept the notebook safe for more than three decades until 1987, when he handed it to Holocaust survivor Irena Veisaitė; at around this time, Veisaitė also acquired Matilda’s diary from another source and this too contained poems. Both notebook and diary came to the att ention of the poet and translator, Laima Vincė, who, working directly from Matilda’s handwritt en poems, translated all 34 poems in the notebook, plus those jott ed down between diary entries. The poems included in this chapbook span Olkinaitė’s short life and Vince’s powerful, yet sensitive, translations, together with her illuminating introduction, allow the English-language reader access to the work of a remarkable and prescient young writer who, had she lived, would undoubtedly have become an important poet.

Arc Publications

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