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“A meeting point for poets of all latitudes”
— Víctor Rodríguez Núñez

The Cerulean Bird

by Matilda Olkinaite

Selected, translated and introduced by Laima Vincë

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
written 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 attention of the poet and
translator, Laima Vincė, who, working directly
from Matilda’s handwritten poems, translated
all 34 poems in the notebook, plus those jotted
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.

ISBN: 9781911469681
Published November 2023

» About Matilda Olkinaite