In The Cancer Journals Audre Lorde wrote, ‘I do not wish my anger and pain and fear about cancer to fossilise into yet another silence, not to rob me of whatever strength can lie at the core of this experience, openly acknowledged and examined.’ Founded on this same principle, The Following Scan Will Last Five Minutes was written in the three months following Dutch writer Lieke Marsman’s cancer diagnosis. A series of short poems anchored by an essay that speaks directly to Lorde’s journal entries and personal reflections on cancer, Marsman considers, among other things, the state of contemporary Dutch politics and – via Susan Sontag’s Illness as Metaphor – the rhetoric surrounding her disease. A work of poetry, social criticism and autobiography, The Following Scan is an honest and dryly comic account of a period in the author’s life that elides pretension in search of autonomy and self-knowledge. Beautifully translated by the poet Sophie Collins, the book also includes a translator’s note in the form of a letter to her author and friend.
For previous work: 'Lieke Marsman is one to watch – and not only in poetry.'
For previous work: 'Lieke Marsman is without doubt an enormous talent.'
De Groene Amsterdammer
For previous edition: 'The intrigue in Marsman’s work can be found in the way she peers through the layers of culture and everyday gestures.'
'This is the work of two remarkable poets in collaboration and conversation. Lieke Marsman has evolved a stringent poetics of limit and capacity, of body and language and self. The scan is a metaphor for Marsman’s particular quality of attention - committed and complete.'
For previous edition: ‘Ten poems and an essay about cancer, for which Marsman was treated. But it is also about so much more: about loneliness, being on benefits, economic sensationalism and freedom of expression.’
‘What this [essay] section adds to the book is something that is rarely present in translated works – the relationship between a writer and their translator…and the final book is ultimately a genuine collaboration.’
Platon Poulas, Pendora Magazine
‘Between them these two authors have produced a remarkable hybrid sort of book, grown from the astonishingly rich soil of empathetic response to others, expressive of a range of human intimacies as well as a variety of angers at the way individuals – and society – too easily succumb to blinkered self-interest and self-immuration.’
Reviews‘The poems speak plainly and think plainly and that is their power as translated by Collins, but their effect is to offer a multi-dimensional set of reports, contemplations and intense but underplayed tensions. It isn’t a normal book of poetry, but it is certainly poetry and despite its plainness and nakedness there is little like it.’
George Szirtes, Poetry Book Society