i take your voice
Author: Marina Blitshteyn
Publisher: Switchback Books (2022)
i take your voice is one long serial poem of imagined conversations between a daughter and her mother, in a language native to neither of them. It reads like a one-woman play, the daughter enacting both roles of the miscommunication that comes with immigration, trauma, and narcissism. In text coming in from the left and the right side of the page, and sometimes meeting in the middle, i take your voice is a communion of the unsaid and untranslatable, blurring the lines of a loaded mother / daughter bond, with hope that the book itself can connect a dynamic that talking every day only estranges.
"In i take your voice, Blitshteyn reaches towards bridging languages and generations, mother and daughter, both of whom are given unfiltered voice, or—and we are provocatively invited to question—how and whose voice is taken. In their intimate dialogue, we find 'a space for you / to enter into / the conversation,' a place to be held in language even when its voices cannot hold one another. We find a book that gives us voice in spite of the losses it bears within itself."
–Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach
"With virtuosity of language matched only by its emotional clarity, Marina Blitshteyn’s i take your voice manages to distill the life’s work that is a family. These poems form a pas-de-deux in a trick mirror ('there are two of us / in every conversation, / a conversion'), perfectly rendering the plaintive longing between daughter and mother: the too-muchness, the never-enoughness. They remind us what love is: that what we want for each other we want for ourselves. Blitshteyn’s spare lines reveal the grammar of an attachment informed by Jewishness and immigrant experience, moving ever closer to that honest place where a conversation 'isn’t even talk.' Her articulations of trauma and of love are precision-tuned and unabashed. This is a searingly beautiful book, and a true record of faithfulness."
"One doesn’t read i take your voice, so much as advance meditatively through its adhesive architecture. In this innovative, cyclical poem, the speaker makes an all-consuming attempt to inhabit and engage with the voice of her mother, like a method actor immersed in a character. 'i take your voice / and add it to my own. there’s no space between / what i want and how you heard it,' Blitshteyn writes, and, in doing so, brilliantly reflects back to us the coincident phenomena of our needs and our manipulation, our love and our control. The mother’s multiplicitous voice in i take your voice is the parent in our head, but it is also the pursuit of self-awareness and concession: 'these are empty gestures against your will' admits the daughter-speaker, but they are also self-less gestures toward seeing oneself as perceived by a beloved."