Yuliya Musakovska. Hunting for Silence

January 2016
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Ternopil: Krok, 2014.

The third book from Lviv poet, Yuliya Musakovska, Hunting for Silence is a collection of feminine and somewhat melancholy poetry. From a formal standpoint, her experiments with a melodic rhythm and a skillful possession of verse are attractive: both free and classical, syllabo-tonic and tonic. Thematically, the collection centers on the relationship between man and woman. Moreover, several of the texts are devoted to the theme of motherhood, emerging from the particular feeling that develops when the newborn son becomes “the most important person in the world.”

Grief, despair, and boredom are subtly connected to the challenges of life in the body (“Seal time in the body, shut like a heavy gate”) and, more generally, the prison of the material world (“It is too late to return to the top / seagulls settle out on railing / the lead of their iron beaks / draw the sky into squares”), with the triumph of transience of everything in space, where love and hate are always near (“those who hate—along with those who love”).

The one who washes away human footprints in this world is God— who reveals Himself through the sparrows, then as a river. It is the feeling of His presence that emotionally dominates the poetry—it is not despair, but humble stability, that makes it possible to withstand the surrounding rubbish of the world. The greatest science understandable to humans is the science of ashes: “to smolder and fall”—to properly overcome one’s inflated ego. Even the words themselves do not belong to the speaker: “We lie in bed as if in the desert / with words that will / never be ours.” Hence, the symbolic motif of silence that is rendered in the collection’s title: silence—an attribute of a certain true dimension of existence, somewhat eerie, yet inevitable (“we are silent and will not pass away”).

The book closes with an interview with the author, which offers possible directions for reading her poetry.

Krytyka is grateful to Sandra Joy Russel for volunteering to translate this book review.

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