I wanted to look at the elegy in a different way: I wanted to see if there was a way to honour what was most invisible about a person.
Best known in Britain for her award-winning novel Fugitive Pieces, Anne Michaels is also an acclaimed poet. Her latest collection, Correspondences, shortlisted for the 2014 Griffin Prize, is an extraordinary and utterly sui generis collaboration with painter Bernice Eisenstein. In a unique, accordion-style format, Michaels’s resonant book-length poem, a historical and personal elegy, unfolds on one side of the book’s pages. On the other, and in unison, Bernice Eisenstein's haunting portraits depict the 20th century writers and thinkers the poem summons: Paul Celan, Nelly Sachs, W.G. Sebald, Anna Akhmatova, Primo Levi and others, each accompanied by quotations that illuminate the deeper connections among them.
Anne Michaels joined us for an evening of readings and discussion in conversation with Gareth Evans, publisher of Railtracks, Michaels’s meditative dialogue with John Berger, produced in association with the bookshop in 2011.
With thanks to Ledbury Poetry Festival.