Poems

My Mother Daughter

Notes

Our translator, Natalia Bukia-Peters, explained to the group that Lia Liqokeli is from the Khevsureti region of Georgia and that this area has a particularly strong oral poetic tradition. Although Liqokeli sometimes works in received forms this poem was in free verse and yet several of the Georgian native speakers attending the workshop agreed that the poem carried this inheritance of Khevsureti lyricism when read aloud. Spoken in Georgian, we were all struck by the emphatically woven quality of the sound patterns. The assonance and alliteration seemed to mimic the lullaby that the poem describes. As we worked at the English version we tried to create repetitions and alliterative chimes to intimate these qualities. .

Although the poem begins with the possible fate of all mothers - the likely consequences of aging - it draws its poignancy from the singular experience of the speaker’s relationship with her mother. The plurality becomes singular. This transition is particularly subtle in the Georgian, where specifying the object is required. In English we chose to make this moment explicit: “Rock them, hum a lullaby / Rock her, lull her”.

Mirroring the poem’s movement from general to personal experience is a journey from reflection to declaration. The poem opens in the conditional and becomes declarative, and the suggestion to end the poem ‘I declare’ seems particularly apt, providing an alliterative yoke between “death” on the previous line and “adopt” in the coming phrase, a subtly altered repetition of the first line.

Edward Doegar - PTC Commissioning Editor

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