Bad Harvest

A Massachusetts Book Awards
2019 “Must Read” in Poetry

“Even after a bad harvest, there must be a sowing.” – Seneca the Younger

Dzv0-Bad Harvest

“Dzvinia Orlowsky’s sixth book, Bad Harvest, is the book that stakes her claim to an oeuvre, her own territory in American letters. Orlowsky’s voice is stunningly intimate, perhaps because these poems really look outward. Grounded in the funkiness of family love, marriage, the body in time, they turn to face history—our contemporary vortex, and the nightmares of Eastern Europe in the twentieth century.” – D. Nurkse

“This collection simmers with the magical ingredients of an Eastern European medicine woman’s brew. Bad Harvest releases its potency poem by poem, entrapping and entrancing with its candor and Orlowsky’s deep-rooted intuitions and seductively quirky humor.” – Mihaela Moscaliuc

Like a hornet caught in a jar, there is our world buzzing inside Orlowsky’s prose poems, buzzing between words, yes, but also between silences. I started reading with these prose poems and couldn’t stop. And then: opened the village of her lyrics, where line-breaks’ bulging veins throb to a music all their own. Here, the streets are flecked with images, with feather and bone. Orlowsky’s is a world where the poet blesses all that is washed with saliva, all that has a pinch of salt. With these poems, the boring prose of reality we all want to escape is buried in a wake of hoofs. But what is this poet’s wisdom? Orlowsky looks back on this village of her days: Remember it, she says, for its silence // the hill where you staked your life.  And what, exactly, do we take from it? She shows how to go on: Thank you doctor, / it must be so, each bone depleted–/each wish revealed. It is, indeed, revealing, beautiful work.” – Ilya Kaminsky

“Dzvinia Orlowsky has more than chronicled the life of a child born of the beautiful, horrific, and violent soil of Ukraine. She has, in her collection, grafted two worlds, sown the seeds of one language and created a complete world, peopled with hungry women, angry men, icons, dirt, hunks of manure / flecked with feather and bone . . . The genetics of hunger, mutated by American culture—Lord Taylor, Elvis Presley—travel throughout the body, which remembers trauma, but also, how to be reborn. Bad Harvest is a living object, a book of movement, unafraid to hear, mourn, and finally understand this other language beneath the hruden—frozen lumps of snow and earth . . .” – Jennifer Martelli, Solstice: A Magazine of Diverse Voices

“The title of Dzvinia Orlowsky’s sixth book, Bad Harvest, evokes the Holodomor, the man-made famine that affected and killed millions across the grain-producing Ukraine during Soviet occupation, presumably including Orlowsky’s forebears. In fact, the book begins with a series of prose poems and poems with longer, looser lines, as if indicating a history too full of uncertainty to balance in even the most carefully wrought poetic line. Often they are parables presented as family lore, stories passed rhythmically, musically, memorably, not just about the history of family in the Ukraine, but about her parents, who would become immigrants in the U.S.” – Valerie Duff-Strautmann, Salamander

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