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The Pallikari of Nesmine Rifat

The Pallikari of Nesmine Rifat

In this sensuously defiant collection of new poems, the winner of the 2004 Grand Prix du Livre de Montréal expands and deepens a poetic ruse. In his critically acclaimed collections Saracen Island and Companion, David Solway took on the voice of a fictitious Greek poet named Andreas Karavis. The poems of these earlier two books were so artful and refreshingly immediate that many readers were convinced that they were authentic translations from the Greek.

For The Pallikari of Nesmine Rifat, a new book of ostensible translations, Solway adopts the persona of Karavis's spurned lover, Turkish Cypriot poet Nesmine Rifat and explores the aftermath of one of Karavis's love affairs. Lushly sexual and sparkling with wit and intelligence, these passionate lyrics take the form of undelivered letters, written by Rifat in the wake of Karavis's desertion and his eventual marriage to her rival Anna Zoumi.

Solway portrays, with subtlety and sensitivity, a powerful woman and gifted poet undergoing a turbulent emotional journey. Moving from wrath and arrogant disdain, through bitterness and grief, to an acceptance of the love she cannot subdue, his female poet grows in both strength and art. As an intimate record of one woman's anguish, The Pallikari of Nesmine Rifat is a remarkable achievement — even more so when one recalls that the author is actually a man.


David Solway is one of Canada's most accomplished and respected poets. His many books include Modern Marriage (winner of the QSPELL Poetry Award), Education Lost (winner of the QSPELL Award for Non-Fiction), and Franklin's Passage (winner of the Grand Prix du Livre de Montréal). Also well known as a critic, he contributes regularly to the National Post and Atlantic Monthly as well as a wide variety of literary journals. He lives in Hudson, Quebec.

"Solway's obvious facility with language and form means some of the poems would transplant easily to any volume of verse by a woman." — Globe and Mail

"David Solway's book is definitely eccentric, and elegant in its own way." — Montreal Review of Books

80 pages
Pub date: February 28, 2005