Featured Writer Maarja Kangro: One Poem


So, as a child, you say?
You jumped,
and the pile of Eternit cracked?
Blue sneakers, white chrysotile.
I saw the enlargement
of a 10 micrometre fiber
entering the respiratory system.
A piece of Eternit
was meant to be smoked fish?
You nibbled at it
like original sin?
Like the tree of the knowledge of good and evil:
actually, you don’t feel anything,
don’t understand much,
10μm, a construction worker in filthy trousers,
an agony of an ignorant mind,
20 or 40 years, pleural plaques, mesothelioma,
scar tissue in the lungs.
Yes, every year, it seems, the lilac blooms,
and sometimes a big passion.
The fiber descends very slowly,
invisibly like the future.
A great allegory, asbestos.
Oh, don’t be mad now!
Look, this is my new favourite wine.
I’ll buy. Let’s have a glass tonight.

-Maarja Kangro

Translated from Estonian by Brandon Lussier and the author, Maarja Kangro



Ah et juba lapsena?
ja eterniidivirn pragises?
Sinised tennised, valge krüsotiil.
Nägin suurendust,
kuidas 10-mikromeetrine kiud
tungib hingamisteedesse.
oli mängult suitsukala?
nagu pärispattu?
Nagu hea ja kurja tundmise puud:
tegelikult ei tunne ju midagi,
aru ei saa suurt millestki,
10μm, räpastes pükstes ehitaja,
aimuta inimese agoonia,
20 või 40 aastat, pleuranaastud, mesotelioom,
sidekoestunud kops.
Jah, igal aastal justkui õitseb sirel
ja mõnikord suur kirg.
Kiud laskub väga aeglaselt
ja nähtamatult nagu tulevik:
asbest on vägev allegooria.
Oh, mis sa vihastad!
Näe, siin on mu uus lemmikvein.
Ma ostan. Teeme õhtul klaasikese.

-Maarja Kangro


Asbest’ by Maarja Kangro was first published in Estonian in the magazine Looming (2009) and was also included in her poetry collection Kunstiteadlase jõulupuu (The Christmas Tree of an Art Scholar) published by Eesti Keele Sihtasutus in 2010. The English translation, ‘Asbestos’ was first published on lyrikline.org. The original poem, ‘Asbest’, alongside the English translation, ‘Asbestos’, have been republished in Rochford Street Review with the author’s permission.


Maarja Kangro photograph by Jüri Kolk copy

Maarja Kangro. photograph by Jüri Kolk

Maarja Kangro is an Estonian poet, author, and translator who has been described as one of the most formidable voices in contemporary Estonia. By the age of forty, she had won many of the important literary awards in Estonia. In 2006, she published her first book of poems, Kurat õrnal lumel (A Devil on Tender Snow), as well as, a children’s book, Puuviljadraakon (Fruit Dragon), illustrated by her sister, Kirke Kangro. Puuviljadraakon also received the Estonian Children’s Literature Centre’s Best Book of the Year Award in 2006. She won the Tallinn University Literary Award for her second and third collections of poems: Tule mu koopasse, mateeria (Come into my Cave, Matter) in 2008 and Heureka (Eureka) in 2009. She received the Estonian Cultural Endowment’s Literary Award for poetry in 2009 for Heureka, as well as, for prose in 2011 for Ahvid ja solidaarsus (Monkeys and Solidarity). She has also written several opera librettos, a cantata, and a multimedia work, To Define Happiness.


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About Zalehah Turner

Zalehah Turner is a Sydney based poet, photographer, cultural journalist, and Associate Editor of Rochford Street Review (RSR). Zalehah regularly contributes articles and interviews on poetry, art, film, and new media for RSR and the UTS magazine, Vertigo. Zalehah’s poetry was projected onto the Federation Square Wall in Melbourne as part of the Overload Poetry Festivals, 2008 and 2009; exhibited at Mark and Remark ,107 Projects, Redfern in 2013; and displayed in Alice Springs and Moruya thanks to Australian Poetry Café poets, Laurie May and Janette Dadd respectively. Her poems have been published in Writing Laboratory (2013), Sotto (2013), Social Alternatives (2016), Vertigo (2016, 2017), UTS’s The Empathy Poems Project (2017) and Rochford Street Review (2017). She co-judged the New Shoots Poetry Prizes 2016 alongside, Tamryn Bennett, Artistic Director of The Red Room Company, and published the winning and highly commended poems. Zalehah is currently working on an intermedia poetry collection entitled, 'Critical condition', focused on the interstitial threshold between life and death in medical crises based on personal experience. Zalehah holds a BA in Communication with a major in writing and cultural studies from the University of Technology, Sydney where she continues to pursue pushing the boundaries of multimedia poetry in Honours (Communication- Creative Writing).

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  1. Pingback: Featured Writer Maarja Kangro: Biographical Note | Rochford Street Review

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