Linda Stern Zisquit has published five full-length poetry collections, most recently
Return from Elsewhere (co-winner of the Outriders Poetry Project, Buffalo, NY, 2014), and Havoc: New & Selected Poems (Sheep Meadow Press, New York, 2013). Her
translations from Hebrew poetry include Wild Light: Selected Poems of Yona Wallach (Sheep Meadow Press, 1997; expanded 2006), for which she won an NEA translation grant and was shortlisted for the PEN Translation Award, and These Mountains:
Selected Poems of Rivka Miriam (Toby Press, 2009). Born in Buffalo, New York, she has lived in Israel since 1978, where for many years she was Poetry Coordinator for the
Creative Writing programme at Bar Ilan University. She founded and runs Artspace, a gallery in Jerusalem representing local artists.
Inhabiting a landscape that is at once Biblical and contemporary, the speaker of Linda Stern Zisquit’s ecstatic sequence is the imagined daughter of Korah who rebelled against Moses and Aaron and who, together with his sons and followers, was swallowed up by the earth [Numbers 16: 1-33]. According to legend, Korah’s sons repented and became psalmists, singers on the highest rung of the underworld. No daughter of Korah appears in the traditional sources.
The series was begun in the summer of 2014 during a child’s cancer treatment and as war raged in Israel and Palestine. These ‘psalmwork’ poems are associative responses to the psalms, engaging the sacred and profane and weaving together strands of personal and national trauma.
‘Sin and holiness meet in the voice of Korah’s imaginary daughter, where transgression yields language at once turbulent and serene, delicate, musical, formally unbreakable. Zisquit is passionate and experimental; this is her boldest work.’
‘Keenly attuned to biblical lore and song, Linda Zisquit – alias Korah’s daughter – steals across sacral and profane worlds ‘with an eight-stringed heart’, courting danger, seeking wholeness.’
‘Zisquit’s Psalms are passionate, hectic, sacrilegious. In a surrealist lyricism deeply coded by the Hebrew Bible, they blend erotic longing, sorrow for family illness, guilt, and grief for her country. A distinctive voice.’
Declan Ryan was born in Mayo, Ireland and lives in London. His debut pamphlet was published in the Faber New Poets series in 2014. His reviews and essays on literature and boxing have appeared in the TLS, New Statesman, Boxing News, and elsewhere.
Diego Corrales, Arturo Gatti, Sonny Liston, Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson: in a sense, as Jonathan Rendall put it, ‘Only the names change’. In this sequence of
telescoped narratives we meet boxers who are – or were – godlike, seemingly unstoppable, ready to shake up the world, then often shaken up by it in turn. Somewhere between there and here is an equally brutal form of glory, valour, and all too occasionally a resurrection.
‘A careful and tender collection of poems that tell stories full of heart and fate. Beautiful and moving, each boxer is heard and known again.’
‘Moving through the ages, capturing one fighter after another, Declan Ryan’s beautifully stark poems strip bare the poignant truth of boxing. The names change, and each poem feels so fresh, but the same notes of loss and pain echo again and again. Fighters, Losers is as memorable as all the haunted boxers who stalk these pages.’
‘When people talk about the poetry of boxing it’s not usually actual poetry they have in mind. Declan Ryan, though, locates the poetry in fighters’ lives, the moments of triumph or despair, the brutal rivalries and strange attachments, the rare glimpses of grace and redemption – and lifts them into brightly lit significance. Ryan moves deftly between registers and sources, with a faultless ear: for the rapidly shifting rhythms of his free-verse lines, for his subjects’ bruised, boastful celebrity, above all for the cadences of defeat, in the short or long term. His laconic, fascinating and often beautiful portraits of Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali or Rocky Marciano bring something new to poetry; whether you’re a fan of the fights or not, these great, sad, broken gladiators will never look the same.’