It’s Always Strange to Sleep in Cities


It’s always strange to sleep in cities

you haven’t seen in daylight.

You could be anywhere, anybody

could be breathing next door. In the night

under used blankets you dream

of waking to the highest spires,

fastest clouds, brightest snow.


You dream of drunken rooftops

strewn with broken stars

and you dream of some people you’ve known.

They’re here in the streets,

on the rooftops, in the windows

of the city which is – you awake to find –

nothing but shadows and fog.


It seems they’ve always been here.

And you tell them without words

because words are not

in the nature of this dream

how happy you are to be here.

How alone, unsure

of the future, of the past.


They thank you for your visit,

everything is fine, they say,

their mouths opening without a voice,

they hope to see you again.

But they don’t touch you. Then dawn

breaks over the city

where it’s always strange to sleep.


Geography for the Lost

Bloodaxe UK, Auckland University Press NZ, 2007

‘Kassabova’s achievement is to make the emigre life a metaphor inclusive of more general alienation. The evidence of a major talent is unmistakable.’  PN Review


Someone else’s life

someone else's life

Bloodaxe UK, 2004

‘Someone else’s life tells with supreme clarity and fearless candor what it means to be adrift in the last years of the 20th century and the first of the 21st. It is a book of perpetual exile, of endless comings and goings, in a world that offers neither stability, nor salvation.’  Mark Strand, US Poet Laureate


‘A book of striking originality in which the poet speaks for those who have been uprooted or dispossessed by, mostly European, history. Always evocative, Kassabova memorialises lives in transit.’ Gerry Smyth, The Irish Times


‘This much-travelled volume is always, even in several striking love poems, a record of alienation from the ‘valley strewn with garbage and roses’ of her homeland. This doubled sensibility is at once new and accomplished, direct and complex.’ Fiona Sampson, Poetry Review

All roads lead to the sea

all roads lead to the sea

Auckland University Press NZ, 1998

Winner of the 1998 NZ Montana Books Award for Best First Book of Poetry