The Towers Turn Red

The Towers Turn Red
Southword Editions, 2005.
Poems by Sigitas Parulskis. Translated from Lithuanian by Liz O'Donoghue.

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At the core of this collection is a sequence of two-line, gravestone epitaphs, of the not-very-celebratory sort. The darker, pain-filled perspectives of living and dying are expressed uncompromisingly, sometimes surreally, sometimes with brute gothic realism. Sigitas Parulskis is the voice of a new Lithuania unshackled and demuzzled from unrealistic, official, Soviet optimism. His voice has such authority it guarantees him not only a place as Lithuania's leading young poet but also fiction writer. Liz O'Donoghue's experience as one of the generation of Irish who matured into the despairing 1980s of the green Banana Republic qualifies her perfectly for transferring Parulskis' vision into a cutting, sardonic Hiberno-English.

What the critics have said:

"All Parulskis' pieces in this collection show the same reduced, tight, held-back form. His poems have something of a sharp intake of breath about them, as if he is surprised or shocked by the experience. They create vivid and often disturbing images... he is an original voice." -The Penniless Press


Selected Poems from The Towers Turn Red


Love God


love God and prune stew

but not just him, love my soul too


love God, even Eve, do

but not just them, love my soul too


love God, a man, true

but not only him, love me too


love God, my mouth too

Christ’s stinking urn

But not just him, love me, idiot that I am



Ash Wednesday, Tapping Sap


across virgin soil

the wind rolls straw



I should burn

my home

and scatter the ashes

on your hair

old wounded maple


we are both dust


I’m just peesash


In Need of a Drink


father and I went into the desert

with water in our mouths

to leave there

earth in our palms

to leave there

with the skies

in our eyes

bark rolled

into our skin

shackled clouds

in our hair

great pain

in our breasts

to leave there


at the heart of the desert

our strength was gone

in the centre

we planted crosses

lay down the earths

from our palms

lay down the songs

from our hearts

sank the wells

for water

then lay in the oasis of the crosses

when we touched the crosses

we breathed their shelter


inside the cross

I buried deep

father’s mouth’s



Copyright ©2005 Sigitas Parulskis

English translation Copyright ©2005 Liz O'Donoghue




Sigitas Parulskis


Born 1965, Sigitas Parulskis is one of the most interesting, and certainly the most popular, young poets writing in Lithuania today. Born in the village of Obeliai, Parulskis has published three collections of poetry, three plays, a children’s book, numerous essays and critical reviews. He is the editor of the literary section of Lithuania’s most popular daily Lietuvos Rytas. Much of Parulskis’s material draws from his childhood in rural Lithuania, his experiences as a conscript in the Soviet army, and an archetypal relationship with “the father”. The poems translated here are from Parulskis’ award winning collection Of the Dead, published in 1994.



Liz O'Donoghue


Liz O'Donoghue was born in 1960 in North Cork, and attended UCC in late 1970s/early 1980s where she ran the poetry workshop and was first published in Quarryman, edited by Greg Delanty. She went on to be published in journals such as Poetry Ireland Review, Stet, The Shop, The Cork Review, The College Green, Southword, The Stony Thursday Book and Volume.

In 1991 she founded the "Live Poets Society"— a pub-based live poetry performance group which anticipated the open-mic movement of the 21st century. In 1995 she published the chapbook Waitress at the Banquet with Three Spires Press and had work included in the Cork University Press anthology Jumping Off Shadows - Some Contemporary Irish Poets. In 1998 a poem of hers was published into Hungarian and published in Magyar Naplo.

Between 2000 and 2003 she worked on directing a filmed anthology of Cork poets called In the Hands of Erato which was screened at the Cork Film Festival. In 2004 she received an artist's bursary from Cork City Council. In 2005 she translated the work of Sigitas Parulskis, a Lithuanian poet for the Cork Year of Culture translations project. Her debut collection, ‘Train To Gorey’, was published by Arlen House and launched in Dublin in November 2008.

She has one son and lives and works in Cork city.



























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