PEN Translates Award, 2020

There are nearly 70 million refugees on the planet today, civilians forcibly displaced from their homes by war, lack of rights, violence and climate change. Most of these have found sanctuary in neighbouring countries. A few have made desperate journeys from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and North Africa to Europe, where they have met the kindness of strangers as well as the anti-immigrant rhetoric of opportunist politicians.

Liminal is an attempt by the poet and activist Laura Fusco to record the voices of the refugees themselves, especially the women she has met in camps in France and in Italy. It’s a scrapbook of stories, graffiti and placards, songs of exile and songs against exile. It’s a book about about learning to live outside time and between borders, stateless and homeless, invisible and unheard, marginal – liminal.

Cover image: Banksy mural on a street in Calais (2015) after Gerricualt’s The Raft of the Medusa; the mural was painted over by local residents in 2017.


‘These are the fragments of a twenty-first century Aeneid, a painful epic of migrants driven out of their land by war.’

Jean-Baptiste Para

‘In a journey of suffering and challenges, between ancestral lamentations and glittering cities, the poet gives us the intensity of these voices and their stories. A choral work, a portrait of an uprooted and unresolved world.’

Chiara Aimar

‘Rings with the intense melodies of Babel in the third millennium – the exhortations of grandmothers, lullabies sung by mothers, the voices of young girls from the Far and Middle East, Southern and North Africa.’

Pap Khouma

‘unforgivingly accurate.’

Morning Star

‘the writing is grounded in respect for the articulateness of the unheard. This is poetry as testimony, away from self-indulgence ad excessive subjectivity and towards forms which can properly engage with the mass tragedies which characterise our times.’

Mistress Quickly’s Bed

Laura Fusco’s poems are the best I’ve read on this subject.’

London Grip

‘tremendous… unsentimental and immediate.’

The Italian Rivetter

‘brings refugees’ lives to the forefront, thrusting heir hopes and fears, their plight, their common humanity before the reader.’

Modern Poetry in Translation

‘truly moving.’

May Day Magazine