By Alexandra Strnad
From the cobbled streets of Prague, to the rivers and coastlines of the Scottish Borders, Pilgrims journeys through place and time, juxtaposing totalitarian authority in communist Czechoslovakia, fishing communities left without menfolk following storms in the North Sea, and love and longing against the variegated seasonal backdrop of the British Isles. These poems are deft and sensuous explorations of distance and alienation, and of the interaction between joy and sorrow.
Alexandra Strnad read English at the University of Cambridge, and graduated with a Master’s in Creative Writing from the University of Oxford. A dual Czech/British national, she lived in Prague for several years. Her first poetry pamphlet H is for Hadeda, was published by Poetry Salzburg, University of Salzburg, in 2017. She is Poet-in-Residence at Carfax Education.
Alexandra Strnad’s characteristically supple and observant voice takes new flight in this second pamphlet, which hymns the harsh beauty of landscapes from the Scottish Borders to faraway Bohemia (‘a land-locked country... always thirsting for the sea’). Page after page, she leads us by the hand across topographies of outer and inner worlds, at once exploring the ‘white-lipped, blue-veined’ terrain of distant places, and – what is rarer – ‘the quiet / rigging of a soul’. This volume is as much a journey into the imagination as into ourselves; a pilgrimage that is its own sweet destination.- Theophilus Kwek