Helen Lynch is Senior Lecturer in Early Modern Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Aberdeen. She lived in Poland 1987-1993, and The Elephant and the Polish Question (Bluechrome, 2009) is an interlinked sequence of stories set against the backdrop of the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe. Her second collection, Tea for the Rent Boy (Wild Harbour Press), came out in 2018. Other publications include Milton and the Politics of Public Speech (Ashgate, 2015) and interactive educational resources Beowulf for Beginners and The Knight with the Lion.


Story and a reflection

Sapozhkelekh’ is a piece of short fiction written in 2016, which was read and discussed at the Aberdeen-Curtin Symposium in 2017. The story has at its heart Auntie Renka and Aunty Golde’s two diametrically opposed and apparently incompatible haunted subjectivities, and considers whether the absorption of language, the transmission of culture and of ghostly burdens can ever be separated at all. The narrator is a child, whose preoccupations may seem very different from those of the elderly women, even if this turns out not to be the case. ‘Sapozhkelekh—A reflection’ is a meditation on the processes that produced the story as well as ‘matters arising’ from the experience of reading it aloud, and the implications of the child’s voice being ventriloquized by an adult in this situation.