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's book is definitely eccentric, and elegant in its own way." — Montreal Review of Books
Pub date: February 28, 2005