Project Description

Maia Elsner’s debut collection Overrun by Wild Boars (flipped eye, 2021) won the Somerset Maugham Award and was listed as one of the top ten books of 2021 by The Telegraph. Her debut non-fiction book, Dante Elsner (Guillemot Press, 2023), recounts through archival material, interview and over 300 images, the life story of her grandfather’s life, a refugee who survived the Second World War by hiding in the forests of Poland after his family were murdered and later found in art a reason to survive. A chapbook, Colours of Mourning (Guillemot Press, 2024) is an ekphrastic mediation on his paintings.

Oil painting as a form of lying

                                       how oils rework                     the line

                                                        delete                      what it attempts

                                             some things                      can never be undone

                                like a damp Tuesday                    taut as spiders’ web

                              your brother at home                     when the soldiers came

                        how you walked the trails                    calling

                                         calling for him                       you found

                                              the sky was                       a blank answer

                                  shot into the water                      this is a story of collapse

                                         you said to me                       gazing at the murdered son

                                              everywhere                       is a woman

                                                       crying                       in this version the Madonna

                           is the colour of horizon                     birthing dawn

                                 fragile as the winter                     you do not paint

                                 fragile as your child                      who died

                           in the back-seat of a car                     often 

                                         tragedy can be                        nothing but

                                      country roads &                        the baby finally asleep

                                      the river at dusk                        as you drive along