Poetry. Translated from the Lithuanian by H. L. Hix. Eugenijus Ališanka's astonishing poetry collection FROM UNWRITTEN HISTORIES shuns linguistic and symbolic conventions to create a poetic landscape that is rooted in his homeland yet also connects to the shared European literary canon. Poems set in a rural Lithuanian village of the post-communist period take on a universal dimension, while in other poems unidentified shadow figures from history are reimagined within a Baltic context. These lucid, earthy poems articulate intellectual struggles in an unpretentious manner, granting the reader that which the speaker himself fears he cannot attain: the expanded ability to identify with others, as when we see the entire history of a people in the poignant detail of a man being borne to his grave wearing "his wedding suit split slightly in the back" ("nothing much"); and the attainment of self-determination within a community of others, as in the extraordinary Dickinsonian concluding poem, "once in my life," in which the speaker manages at his funeral to accomplish what "I wanted at least once in my life" to be able to do, and which these poems enable the reader to do, namely "to be myself without being alone."
Kristie Kachler @ Boston Review
Eugenijus Ališanka (b. 1960) lives in Vilnius, Lithuania, and works as editor-in-chief of The Vilnius Review. In Lithuania, his work has been accorded standing among the nation's finest literature: for example, his first poetry collection won the best debut of the year prize, and one of his essay collections was awarded the Culture Ministry Prize. But his work has also garnered international recognition: he has been a fellow of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, and his work has been translated into French, Slovenian, Russian, Polish, Finnish, Hebrew, Swedish, German, and other languages. FROM UNWRITTEN HISTORIES is the second of his poetry collections to be published in English translation: in 2000, Peleno miestas was published in translation by Northwestern University Press as City of Ash. Author City: VILNIUS LIT