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 for her poetry, as readers are presented with a young foreign poet’s impressions of the infamous city.
Mort received the Crystal of Vilenica award in Slovenia in 2005 and the Burda Poetry Prize in Germany in 2008. She lives in Washington, D.C.