American poet, short-story writer and translator Ruth Fainlight was born in New York but has lived most of her life in the UK. In addition to her own works, she has also provided criticism for BBC Radio, The Guardian, and numerous other publications. Her New & Collected Poems was published by Bloodaxe Books in 2010 and covers work written over 50 years.
Faraway Voice from Georgian born British jazz and blues singer Katie Melua accompanies:
By Ruth Fainlight
My mother’s old leather handbag,
Crowded with letters she carried
All through the war. The smell
Of my mother’s handbag: mints
And lipstick and Coty powder.
The look of those letters, softened
And worn at the edges, opened,
Read, and refolded so often.
Letters from my father. Odour
Of leather and powder, which ever
Since then has meant womanliness,
And love, and anguish, and war.