Literary Programme 2018

Leah Umansky

Leah Umansky

Leah Umansky

Bantry Bookshop

Sat 14 July 2018



Leah Umansky’s new poetry collection The Barbarous Century is a journey through the stories that inform us and the stories we tell ourselves. Confessional, without being confessional, and with compelling wordplay, and lyricism, Leah illustrates the many challenges we all face in being human: how to be good in a world gone wrong. It uses varied dystopias embedded in myth, story, technology and popular culture to highlight the struggle of being a woman in the 21st century. With longing, resentment, humour and desire, these poems highlight the want for an easier and gentler way to navigate this world we call ours.

‘In The Barbarous Century, Leah Umansky writes, ‘I want to make and I want the making to do wondrous things.’ And in this book Umansky has made something wondrous indeed. In these poems ‘even the dark has its blossoms’; these are troubled times, as the speakers acknowledge, and yet we are forging ahead, ‘taking the best parts of us into a future dawning with art and voice.’ Maggie Smith

‘When we talk about books of poetry being generous, we’re talking about collections like Leah Umansky’s The Barbarous Century. Here are poems that lay out everything they’ve got. Poems that call forth a cast of voices ranging from W.B. Yeats to Daenerys Targaryen to Azar Nafisi to Emily Dickinson to Don Draper. Poems that ‘spuddle’ towards romance, that cherish ‘the bristle and the fat’, that invite in ‘another delicate storm of possible’. What fullness, what symphony, what verve Umansky has conjured here! The Barbarous Century is a wild, magnificent achievement.’ Kaveh Akbar

Leah Umansky lives in New York City and is a poet and teacher. Her poems have been widely published and have appeared or are forthcoming in magazines such as, POETRY, American Poetry Review, Magma Poetry, Salamander, Guernica, The White Review, Poetry Review, Pleiades, and Plume. She is the author of four books, including, The Barbarous Century, (published by Eyewear in March 2018), Domestic Uncertainties (Blazevox, 2012) and two chapbooks, the dystopian-themed Straight Away the Emptied World (Kattywompus Press, 2016) and the Mad Men inspired, Don Dreams and I Dream (Kattywompus Press 2014). Her writing has also appeared in The New York Times Poetry Pairing (online), USA Today's Pop Candy, Coldfront Magazine, and The Huffington Post. Her poems are forthcoming in the anthologies, Plume 6, Misrespresented Peoples (NYQ Books, 2018) and The Eloquent Poem (Persea Books, 2019). Some of her Game of Thrones inspired poems have been translated into Norwegian and Bengali. More at:

Leah’s photo is by Jen Fitzgerald