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Released August 31st, 2024 // 82 pages // 978-1-916938-38-0 // RRP £12.99


Dedicated to soil, Queen Cells recounts – from early spring to another spring – the ‘work in blood’ of one family and one small village: Żeleźnikowa Wielka, in the Beskid Mountains of southern Poland, where Małgorzata Lebda grew up. Here the fields, forest, slaughterhouse and neighbours reveal themselves as elemental protagonists: prudent and precarious. Father, mother and siblings; bees, dogs and cows; fire, water and earth are all locked in the communal and private rituals of illness, healing, love. This unflinching yet tender ‘liturgy of departures’ teaches life, not death. Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese’s sparse raw translations listen attentively to the intensity of ‘slow moves’ in Lebda’s dark and luminous world.


PRAISE for Queen Cells:

The pastoral is haunted in Małgorzata Lebda’s Queen Cells, translated with dark, glistening precision by Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese. I thought of the folk-horror of Sylvia Plath’s bee poems. A sequence to impress and unsettle.

— Clare Pollard


Dreamlike but knife-sharp, this sequence of poems hums faintly with the buzzing of bees and the almost imperceptible sounds of a northern forest. A mysterious father teaches his children about death while himself moving towards it. These unsettling, precise poems instantly draw the reader into a tangible world of their own, located in a liminal spac