Factory of Tears

Valzhyna Mort

In her first American publication, poet Valzhyna Mort contends with the joys and sorrows that comprise the heartache of self discovery. Factory of Tears, co-translated from the Belarusian by Elizabeth Oehlkers Wright and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Franz Wright, juxtaposes youthful coming-of-age against the struggles of a nation’s emergent vitality. Self-identification, national independence, and the bounty of metaphor and language take us to an edge where everything is wild.

ISBN: 9781556592744

Format: Paperback

About the Author

Valzhyna Mort is the author of Factory of Tears and Collected Body (both from Copper Canyon Press). She is a recipient of the Lannan Literary Award, the Bess Hokin Prize from Poetry, an Amy Clampitt fellowship, the Gulf Coast translation prize, and the Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner Award. Born in Minsk, Belarus, she teaches at Cornell University and writes in English and Belarusian. Valzhyna Mort’s new book, Music for the Dead and Resurrected, is forthcoming from FSG.

Read more


“… Recalls the great Polish poets Czesław Miłosz and Wisława Szymborska.” —Los Angeles Times

Factory of Tears charts progression of a strong female voice from a child’s experience of the world seen from between grown-ups’ knees to a young adult’s, infused with vibrant sexuality and the desire to see the world on its own terms. The most beguiling feature of this work is how these viewpoints bleed into one another with biting, playful wit, and how, ultimately, the poetic voice strives to understand the world by interiorizing it.” —Redactions

“[Mort] doesn’t mess around trying to beautify what is not… and yet, she finds beauty in unexpected places.” —Black Sheep Dances

“Chronicling the vibrant coming-of-age of an emerging nation, Factory of Tears touches upon the re-emergence of cultural heritage and national identity, and sometimes contentious fallout from such resurrections. A one-of-a-kind work of passion and insight.” —Midwest Book Review

“[Mort’s] brittle, ragged fusion of the personal and political is visceral, skillfully combining the melancholic and elegiac with the wistful and bittersweet.” —Reno News & Review

“[Mort] is most characterized by an obstinate resistance and rebellion against the devaluation of life, which forces her to multiply intelligent questions, impressive thoughts, and alluring metaphors, while her rhythm surprisingly arises as a powerful tool for the most dramatic moments of her verses… One of the best young poets in the world today.” —World Literature Today

“What Robert Lowell said of Sylvia Plath—that ‘language never dies in her mouth’—is how I feel about Valzhyna Mort. If you’re American, you’re lucky to have her among you.” —Katie Ford, On the Seawall

“… Mort explore[s] the possibilities afforded to [her] by language that, just like us, departs and reappears more adept, each and every instance giving meaning to our most profound questions and predicaments.” —West Branch

“One of the many reasons why Copper Canyon Press is such a treasure is its history of publishing books that present the poems in the poet’s original language en face with the English translations.” —Port Townsend Leader