Valzhyna Mort was born in Minsk, Belarus, part of the former Soviet Union, in 1981. Her widely praised Music for the Dead and Resurrected won the international Griffin Poetry Prize in 2021. “[A] striking study of what Belarus can teach the world about state violence, collective memory, and the role of poetry in fighting tyranny,” wrote the New Yorker of her searing lyric poems. In letters to the dead, Mort gives a voice to those erased by the violent history of her homeland. Musical form serves as a safe place for the poet, and old trees speak to her as the only remaining witnesses. Mort, who writes in English and Belarusian, has been described as a “crusader” for her traditional language, as attempts are being made to revitalize it. She moved to the United States in 2005, teaches at Cornell University, and lives in Ithaca, New York.