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New York

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new york, madame,
                                  is a monument to a city

it is   
TA-DA   
a gigantic pike
whose scales   
bristled up stunned

and what used to be just smoke   
found a fire that gave it birth

champagne foam   
melted into metal   
glass rivers   
flowing upwards   
and things you won't tell to a priest   
you reveal to a cabdriver   

even time is sold out   
when to the public's "wow" and "shhh"   
out of a black top hat   
a tailed magician   
is pulling new york out   
by the ears of skyscrapers

Source: Poetry (April 2007)

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This poem originally appeared in the April 2007 issue of Poetry magazine

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New York

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  • Born in Minsk, Belarus (part of the former Soviet Union), in 1981, Valzhyna Mort has been praised as “[a] risen star of the international poetry world” by the Irish Times. When she moved to the United States in 2005, she had already published her first book, I’m as Thin as Your Eyelashes, and was known across the world as an electrifying reader of her poems. Her debut collection in America, Factory of Tears, has received acclaim: the New Yorker writes, “Mort strives to be an envoy for her native country, writing with almost alarming vociferousness about the struggle to establish a clear identity for Belarus and its language.” She composes her poems in Belarusian as attempts are being made to revitalize the traditional language, which lends her work both conventional and groundbreaking tones. Mort reads in both Belarusian and English, and so the poem “New York” provides an ideal context...

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