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Scent of the Unseen

Scent of the Unseen

by Mila Haugová

Bilingual English / Slovak edition

Translated by James Sutherland-Smith and Viera Sutherland-Smith, with an introduction by Fiona Sampson-->

Part of our Visible Poets series edited by Jean Boase-Beier

This first UK publication for Slovakia's leading woman poet concentrates on poetry written in the 1990s — perhaps Haugová's most fruitful period — poetry which moves decisively form the anecdotal mainstream to a poetry which partakes of what D. H. Lawrence termed the 'quick' of being.

Feminism and ancient myth have contributed to the fabric of Haugova’s work as have the Central European traditions of surrealism and hermeticism. However, the recurrence of motifs and symbols creates a pattern of meaning which is readily accessible to readers prepared to respond to the poems with all their senses and emotion as well as the rational part of their being.

Haugová offers a poetry which continually reaches beyond itself, taking us into what might be unseen at the start of a poem but which is palpably evident once the poem has penetrated the pores of our skin.

My poems open the space of invisible feelings, relationships between man and woman, mother and daughter, she writes. ...I am connecting the world of man, animal and plant, saying; the plants are slow animals / I am a slow animal / where I come from / ...

Parallel-text, Slovak / English

...shows us impossible pictures and makes us think about the words that make them possible... like looking down on the world through gaps in the clouds.

John Clark

...neither straightforward lyrical nor anecdotal. She is closer to forms of surrealism, familiar from graphic art... That tradition, of illogical juxtapositions, fantastic creatures and fragmentary fairy-tales, is both deadly serious and playful

The Guardian, May 2004

In a time when western culture generates most of its symbols through the distortions of television, Mila Haugová retains the remarkable ability to sing of the symbolic heights and depths of experience. Bold, iconic and revelatory, these translations do great services to the poems of a major Central European writer.

Andy Brown

136 pages
ISBN 1-900072-39-4
Published September 2003

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