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Summer 2022: New books

Bolfek-Radovani, Jasmina, Knitting drum machines for exiled tongues, Tears in the Fence, Dorset: 2022 (UK £9.99 | EU & Overseas £14.39).

Book Summary

Jasmina Bolfek-Radovani’s groundbreaking poetry collection Knitting drum machines for exiled tongues presents the reader with thirty-five multilingual poems in English, French and Croatian structurally interwoven with thirteen visual-textual fragments and three poems-tattoos or “tattooed” drawings through the narrative device of “enchâssement” (embedding). Using the universal languages of the heart/love/music/rhythm the author seamlessly transgresses borders and provides us with a poignant, evocative, and fully inclusive, immersive experience. The recurring tropes of falling, absence, and loss, and the evocation of a fourth “shadow language” signify the narrator’s displacement from ‘home’ and language, whilst at the same time questioning the identity discourses of nostalgia, belonging and exile. Here, the central image of the “knitting drum machines for exiled tongues” can be interpreted both as an innovative artistic practice allowing the revival of lost and / or exiled languages, and as an enabling device for the (re-)coding of multilingual language patterns in which “poetry of the mind breaks free”.

In Knitting Drum Machines for Exiled Tongues, ‘harmonies’ are ‘sounding out’ spectrums of sonic frequencies, attempting to connect self/others. Jasmina Bolfek-Radovani brilliantly raises the old sword of the bard battling both the silences within herself and which plague us all – the ‘mutisms’ at the ‘edges’, our own wilderness being contained. The poet stretches through the unhearable, unsayable, claims ‘je capte’ ‘kapetan bez broda’ – but then leaves us a blank void to be filled in.That space is the remarkable work waiting here for readers to respond to, to find our ‘futures possible’ where ‘optimism’ is that ‘impossibility of closed passage’ of which she writes so eloquently (Jennifer K. Dick, author of, most recently, That Which I Touch Has No Name (2022))

‘Belonging is un droit humain’ says Jasmina Bolfek-Radovani, but where is belonging and how can it manifest itself in a world broken by wars and exiles, by the disintegration of solid/soiled earth into language, sound, image and movement? For this half-Croatian, half-Algerian poet, belonging is an improvisation, a remix of a mix from an uncertain original master, something glimpsed through the multilingual fluttering of phonemes, or the compelling particularities of a musical form or a dance. It’s there in the data of a physiological function or malfunction, in the fragments of a visual or sonic landscape already moving towards forgetting. Shaped from three very different languages and cultures the poems of Knitting Drum Machines for exiled tongues shimmer with the interwoven colours of saying and the fragile materialities of silence and of loss. (Lyndon Davies) 

Book Reviews

Simon Collins’s review has been published in Tears in the Fence, issue 77, p. 127-130.

A review (French) by the Coordination internationale des chercheur.e.s sur les littératures maghrébines (International Association of Researchers on Maghrebian Literatures) is also available here.

How to Order

The book is available to buy through the Pay / Subscribe / Donate page.

Additional Content (via QR Code)

Readers are invited to scan a QR code included in the book to access additional content related to the Knitting drum machines for exiled tongues collection including a glossary, sound and video materials, and other resources (see sections below).

Multilingual glossary

The multilingual glossary contains meanings of the Croatian and French words appearing in the Knitting drum machines for exiled tongues collection. The document is currently in development and will be available here soon.

Sound materials, videos 

*Listen to Jasmina Bolfek-Radovani reading the poem [at the beginning there was sea] appearing in the Knitting drum machines for exiled tongues collection. Published in Molly Bloom online, May 2020.

*Listen to Jasmina Bolfek-Radovani’s readings of the poems Heart monologues 1. and 13. appearing in Knitting drum machines for exiled tongues. Published in The Fortnightly Review, January 2022.

*View short video (2m48s) of “Heart monologues”.

The 30 min long multi-sensory recital “Heart monologues” took place at the Regent Street Cinema, London, 16 March 2022. It was based on Jasmina Bolfek-Radovani’s multilingual poem sequence Heart monologues 1. – 13. that is part of the Knitting drum machines for exiled tongues collection. It combined multilingual words of Jasmina’s poetry with recorded and live voices, sound, and musical track (“Heart Beat Monitor”, Biorhythms, 2000) by the composer and performer of live computer music Atau Tanaka who performed one of his more recent pieces “Myogram” (Meta Gesture Music, 2017) live on stage using embodied musical interaction technologies. The multilingual sound piece “Heart Coeur Srce” (1m19s) was streamed live during the recital between the poems Heart monologues 11 and 12.

Related essays, blog pieces by the author

essay “Unbound lines: writing in the space of the multilingual” first published in Balkan Poetry Today, March 2018. 

*Read the same essay published in French on Jasmina’s blog: Mon arrivée à l’écriture: sur le (non-) sacrifice de la langue, March 2020.

Further information about the author & latest news

Website: Jasmina Bolfek-Radovani’s personal website.



instagram: @jbolfekradovani