Translated from Belarusian by Annie Rutherford


 Poetry manifesto


Poems come in different kinds.

They may be tall – or not really. Women – or not really.

Poems grow too but they do not need watered, they are not trees and you are not water.

For a poem to grow he or she needs to be rocked.

You may encounter a poem missing a leg or an arm, but there’s no need to be sad – they can regrow them like lizards who lose their tails and find them again.

Some poems though never grow wings or they grow them then lose them. Maybe their bodies lack calcium or something.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves.

First the poem must be caught.

Poems – they scatter, play hide and seek, disguise themselves as prose and all of that. It is therefore best to use a net.

They themselves will only cling onto you if you are running or driving somewhere, they will settle with the wind on hair, on cheeks, will rest there as if on a windscreen, then you can simply go ahead and write them down.

Capture when stationary is more difficult – for this a bait is required. Predatory poems will appreciate a drop of blood, for the more sweet-toothed a thin stream of honey will do, falling from the spoon back into the jar.

And then their corpses (if enough have been gathered and there isn’t space to store them) can be nailed to paper pages, published as a book and thus you will have your own cemetery.

There are, however, further approaches and more thorough classifications, according to which poems are people. Overly close contact may result in orgasmic or schizophrenic states.


yellow poem


a dog in a yellow jumper

waits for the train

the second day of advent

yet no suggestion of snow

the road still lined with

St John’s wort – bewildering

like the yellow trousers of the lad

who just now gives the impression of a son, not a lover


I try on different styles of life throughout the day

hold back from choosing any one

my heart transported by a lorry

with HERTZ inscribed in a yellow box

and the splinter of that extra letter sticks out of my heart

yellow as the armchair

in the hotel room

where only shadows dare to sit


while waiting for the bus

I warm the insides of my thighs

on a wooden bench


in summer you must be obsessive

and just have to go swimming

to tire yourself out

and realise there is no time

only memory


the sea can be replaced with a lake

the lake with a river

poplars with plane trees

the Belarusian town with a Swiss village


but you’re still sitting on a wooden bench

thinking of nothing


kids return from the beach

they don’t yet know how to read or write

they have to carry everything inside themselves

that’s how memory grows


they fidget, chatter, argue


the teacher says something

and straight away

they take the hand of whoever’s standing next to them

that simply, that naturally

it doesn’t matter who it is

a friend or enemy

they don’t exist yet

they’ll arrive later with the letters

but right now there’s only here and now

and the feel of a hand being put into yours

so as to be there

in case of danger





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