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Set in the crumbling ruins of Yugoslavia, In a Time of Drought explores the images and realities of war, destruction and dictatorship, and of fertility, nurture and peace. The key figure is the Balkan rain maiden. This gypsy or peasant girl takes on an ancient mythological authority and a wholly modern moral presence. In the wake of waste and war she is the incarnation of hope and renewal.
In a Time of Drought has received the international Morava Charter Award. It forms the second part of Richard Berengarten’s Balkan Trilogy and is published together with the other two parts, The Blue Butterfly and Under Balkan Light. This edition is also the fourth volume in the Salt series of his Selected Writings.
Richard Berengarten used to be known as Richard Burns. With the publication of this book, he now repossesses the family name of his father, the cellist and saxophonist Alexander Berengarten.
‘What Richard Berengarten is doing in A Time of Drought marks him out as someone who stands in a unique position in current British writing, a brave and inventive poet who is able to take risks in order to stay attuned to a wider European tradition.’ —John Burnside
‘I can think of no other contemporary English poet who so deploys the full resources of the poet’s traditional art and brings them to bear on the events shaping and misshaping of the modern world.’ —Jeremy Hooker
‘The poems move from immersion in tragic events towards catharsis, from suffering to wisdom. Their deep rhythms reach for and locate a kind of persistence: an unsubduable force that struggles from darkness into light’ —John Lucas
‘These books not only confirm Berengarten’s reputation as a significant European writer but, in their handling of universal themes, herald his status as a great poet.’ —Aleksandar Petrov