Known perhaps more as a historian and academic, Sabine Wichert was also highly respected for her poetry. Taganrog was her third collection, released in 2004 by Lagan Press. Whichert sadly passed in September 2014, leaving behind a body of work that both challenging and confirmed the value of poetry in the face of momentous social, political and cultural pressures.
Perhaps befitting for a writer born in Poland, but long-residing in Northern Ireland, the poetry here moves with a startling ease between two distinct sensibilities. Whether writing about the domesticities of her adopted home or the larger, more complex, imaginative legacies of central and eastern Europe, Wichert brings to her task an instinctive balance between the committed and the detached eye. As well as exploring different geographic and political worlds, Wichert delicately and with restraint presents strikingly intimate and honest poems about love and friendship.
The Yellow Devil
The yellow one, the ancient one is back
and makes my juices rise, my bile hiccup,
the blood-poisoner, the evil-eyed devil
got me again. I shall send you a Valentine:
my heart, fall back on romance. I’ll draw
secret ink from him, open my veins, wet
my dreams, let you draw from where you
are not to be. Yet the wobble-kneed one
hurts; that shaky-fingered faint-heart
the evil sorcerer, all guilt-familiar,
and always virtuously to be obeyed. They
tell me he is green here: is all the island
No More Cinderellas
Cinderella has to leave at midnight,
he said, but I stayed; for my prince has come,
not as he imagines, but shaped out of
the aspirations raked from the ashes
to make my own shoes, my own carriage and
horses, my own house. Transforming rescue
is no longer necessary, thank you.