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Anatomical Theater

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Andrei Sen-Senkov
from Russian by Ainsley Morse and Peter Golub
ISBN 978-0-983297-02-4 (paper) $16
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6 x 8
208 pages [Bilingual Russian/English]

  • Winner, 2015 PEN Center USA award!

Sen-Senkov’s poetry has no hero in the obvious sense; although uttered in a voice that clearly has timbre and personal shading, we don’t know whose it is or where it is coming from. When you read deeply into this poetry, however, you realize that there is indeed a person behind this voice: one who perceives any and all cultural symbols as fractures in the universe, as ciphers and “sore spots” at the same time, which demand a vital reciprocal effort in order to overcome various historical traumas. Nothing gets the benefit of the doubt, but as soon as you begin to live out these symbols and myths, to fill them out through personal involvement, then everything begins to come together: the death of Heath Ledger, the story of how the constellations acquired meaning, reminiscences of childhood. One thing begins to resound with another, and it turns out that our hero is a person who doesn’t want to live in a fragmented reality. It’s fragmented, of course, but he strives again and again to see it as whole. This effort cannot be called heroic. That would be a profanation and a vulgarization; but this is an effort to make sense of the world, one that takes us beyond the heroic and non-heroic.
—Ilya Kukulin

The omnivorous quality of Sen-Senkov’s roving eye is especially interesting in its relationship to history. Here is a poet constantly delving into human history; his engagement ranges as far back as prehistoric times, but circles back again and again to a few points of particular interest—in this collection, most notably the harrowed lives of early Christian martyrs and the endless upheaval of twentieth-century Europe. It is perhaps in this cyclical interrogation of the past, and ruminations on the consequences of inevitably repeated mistakes, that Sen-Senkov is most thoroughly a poet in the Russian tradition. Though his orientation is often markedly international, he could never reflect the legendary American forgetfulness of history: he gives us a Kraftwerk concert through the lens of the Soviet occupation of Nazi Germany, and a pack of Gitanes is enough to evoke a century of persecution by various peoples and governmental structures. At the same time, Sen-Senkov is not a political poet; he is a poet of description, and politics and history come to his attention as do Barbie dolls and soccer balls.
—from the Translator Introduction

Andrei Sen-Senkov is the author of more than ten books of poetry and prose, as well as solo and collaborative publications/performances involving visual poetry and experimental music. He has also published translations of poetry and a children’s book of original fairy tales, A Cat Named Mouse. He is a regular participant in literary festivals in Russia and abroad. In 1998 he was an award-winner at the Turgenev Festival for Short Prose, and in 2006, 2008 and 2012 he was shortlisted for the Andrei Bely Prize. In the U.S., his work has been published in journals such as Aufgabe, Interim, Jacket, and Zoland Poetry, and anthologized in Crossing Centuries (Talisman).

Ainsley Morse has been translating 20th- and 21st-century Russian and (former-) Yugoslav literature since 2006. A longtime student of both literatures, she is currently writing a dissertation on unofficial Soviet-era literature at Harvard University. In addition to Anatomical Theater, she is the co-translator (with Bela Shayevich) of I Live I See: the Collected Poems of Vsevolod Nekrasov (UDP, 2013). Current translation projects include an anthology of Lianozovo poets and a collection of contemporary Russian experimental prose, as well as ongoing work with twentieth-century Yugoslav authors.

Peter Golub is a writer and translator living in San Francisco. He has published in Circumference, PEN America, and Playboy. He is a translator of contemporary Russian poetry and has worked on several anthologies, including the large online project The New Russian Poetry (Jacket 2). He has one book of poems, My Imagined Funeral (Argo Risk Press, 2007). He is the recipient of a PEN Translation Grant, and is an editor with St. Petersburg Review. The translation of this book was supported by a BILTC Translation Fellowship.

Paul Klee's Boat

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Anzhelina Polonskaya
from Russian by Andrew Wachtel
ISBN 978-0-9832970-7-9 (paper) $15
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5.25 x 8
160 pages

Paul Klee’s Boat, Anzhelina Polonskaya’s [latest book], is an emotional journey through the bleakest seasons of the human soul, translated with great nuance by Andrew Wachtel… a vital addition to the contemporary poetry canon, a collection as interesting as it is touching that will inevitably be remembered for years to come. [full review]
—Will Evans, Three Percent

Anzhelina Polonskaya consciously guards her outsider status, choosing to live not in Moscow itself, but in Malakhovka, where she was born in 1969, some thirty miles from the center of the city, a peaceful enclave far from the daily squabbles of Moscow literary life. As often as she can, she escapes from the oppressive social and political atmosphere of Russia, and, taking advantage of a number of prestigious residencies, creates the bulk of her work while abroad, following a Russian tradition of using both internal and external exile (in this case self-imposed) to fuel creativity. Polonskaya’s newer work for the most part eschews narrative, and is far more visual in nature. It can almost be described as pictorial; surely it is no accident that Paul Klee’s Boat contains a number of poems that directly refer to individual works of art, although in most (but not all) cases these are not ekphrastic descriptions of the work, but rather evocations of the mood produced by seeing it.

Anzhelina Polonskaya began to write poems seriously at the age of eighteen. Between 1995 and 1997 she lived in Latin America, working as a professional ice dancer. Her first book of verses Svetoch Moi Nebesny (My Heavenly Torch) appeared in 1993. In 1998, the Moscow Writer’s Publishing House published her second book, entitled Verses. Since 1998, she has been a member of the Moscow Union of Writers. In 1999, her book The Sky in a Private’s Eye was published. In September 1999, this book was presented at the First International Festival of Poets in Moscow, and, in October 1999, at an international poetry festival/conference at Northwestern University (Chicago, USA). In 2002, her book Golos (A Voice) was published in Moscow, and in 2003, Polonskaya became a member of the Russian PEN-centre. In 2004, an English version of her book, entitled A Voice, appeared in the acclaimed “Writings from an Unbound Europe” series at Northwestern University Press.

Andrew Wachtel is the president of the American University of Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Previously he was dean of The Graduate School and director of the Roberta Buffett Center for International and Comparative Studies at Northwestern University. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and the author of numerous publications, he is also a translator from Russian, Bosnian/Croation/Serbian and Slovene. He translated Anzhelina Polonskaya’s previous collection, A Voice (Northwestern UP, 1995).

Say Thank You

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Mikhail Aizenberg
from Russian by J. Kates
ISBN 0-939010-88-7 (paper) $14.95
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5¼ x 8
136 pages [Bilingual Russian/English]

With this book, American readers are introduced to the work of an important contemporary Russian poet, whose world-view and aesthetic will seem at once welcome in its otherness and pertinently familiar. Aizenberg's poetry brings the surreal into the quotidian, is of the present moment while partaking of an urban world-view that would have been recognizable to Benjamin or Baudelaire. In J. Kates' translations, these poems have a new and discrete life in English.
—Marilyn Hacker

The young Mandelstam did not know what to do with his body. M. Aizenberg does not know what to do with his soul.
—Vladislav Kulakov

Fresh & marvelous…a philosophical innovator always pressing new thoughts out of language, each poem a repeated surprise…. These poems and their skilled translations are our antennae through the darkness.
—F. D. Reeve

Mikhail Aizenberg has lived and breathed and had his being at the heart of the last generation of poets that came to maturity under the regime of the Soviet Union. He has been not only one of its most eloquent practitioners, but also its chronicler and interpreter.

In his own poetry he articulates the wildly erratic internal, personal climate of the political global warming that Russia has undergone. When the cultural history of Russia's turn from the twentieth to the twenty-first century is written, the epigraphs to the chapters will be drawn from Aizenberg's verses.

He has published four books of poems and two of criticism. In English translation his poems have appeared in Russia (Glas and Hungry Russian Winter) England (Novostroika), New Zealand (Takahe) the United States (Delos, Dirty Goat, Green Mountains Review, Harvard Review, International Quarterly, Kenyon Review, Modern Poetry in Translation, Onthebus, Plum Review, River Styx, Mr. Cogito, Salamander) and Australia (Salt) as well as in the anthologies Third Wave: The New Russian Poetry (University of Michigan Press, 1992), Crossing Centuries (Talisman, 2002), and In the Grip of Strange Thoughts (Zephyr Press, 1999) to which he also contributed an introduction.

Light rain falls as quietly
as the footfall of an Indian guide.
Nettles here, buckwheat there.
Who tends these? Not I, the mushroom-gatherer.

A cloud of spruce needles,
scales from a dragon,
but I see nothing, not I.
I hear nothing, not I.

I only hear, softer than a breath,
the wind blowing over me,
an alder-elder rustles
distantly beyond the stillness.

From the level pale blue sky
from a corner not so far away
an arrow has been fashioned
destined for anything alive.

Who will escape its barely
perceptible flight?
See how the invisible bird
sings like a bowstring.

A cicada saws the air thus
(Shakespeare reproaches it for that).
What is saying djiga-djiga—
the wind? The turn of a key?

Suddenly there is no sound.
Silk emerges from the ground.

The firmament has turned gray
pricked all over with pins.
The abyss of heaven, a passageway
Into weightless quicksilver cold.

J. Kates, poet and literary translator, lives in Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire, and in Brookline, Massachusetts. Alone and in collaboration, he has translated six books of poetry from French, Spanish and Russian, including poems by Tatiana Shcherbina, The Score of the Game (Zephyr, 2002) He also edited In the Grip of Strange Thoughts (Zephyr Press, 1999). His translations of Aizenberg's poetry are underwritten by an NEA translation grant for 2006.

In the Grip of Strange Thoughts: Russian Poetry in a New Era

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Edited by J. Kates
ISBN 0-939010-56-9 (paper), $19.95
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ISBN 0-939010-57-7 (cloth), $30.00
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6 x 9
444 pages
Cover painting by Eric Bulatov
118 poems by 32 contemporary poets
Bilingual on facing pages
Annotated for the general reader
Introduction and afterword on translation by J. Kates
Biographical notes on poets and translators

In the Grip of Strange Thoughts: Russian Poetry in a New Era is a Russian and English bilingual edition of thirty-two contemporary poets writing amidst the upheaval of the Russian 1990s. The collection conveys a sense of the profound freedom and energy of a unique moment in Russian history, as well as the diversity of experience in the years before and since. Edited by poet and translator J. Kates and with a foreword by poet Mikhail Aizenberg, the collection includes poems written long before 1990 but which could not be published, and those of more recent vintage. These thirty-two poets represent a phenomenal range of styles and perspectives. Beginning with the poet and popular songwriter Bulat Okudzhava, who started accompanying his poems on his guitar in the 1950s, the anthology includes poets whose work is deeply rooted in established conventions, avant gardists experimenting with new forms, and adherents of Russian free verse.

In the Grip of Strange Thoughts is an enjoyable and admirable work. Its thirty-two poets show a tremendous thematic and stylistic range, but are united in their feeling for the vitality of language.
The Times Literary Supplement

This book is an absolute gift to students and lovers of poetry.
British East-West Journal, September 1999

Kates's commentary on various approaches to translating Russian poetry will be especially illuminating to the anglophone readers for whom the volume is intended. With its range of reverberating voices, the present title will be welcomed by Russian- and English-speaking readers of contemporary poetry.
—N. Tittler, Choice, October 1999

It is exceedingly rare to come across a collection of contemporary Russian poetry, and even more so with the original in Cyrillic en face. Taking up In the Grip of Strange Thoughts: Russian Poetry in a New Era is just such an experience, and not less so given the quality of the translations.
Publishers Weekly, February 1999

The range of subject and of mood is as great as that of style, and printing the Russian originals as well as the translations increases the potential audience for the book and lets English-only readers see when rhymed Russian becomes unrhymed English.
—Ray Olson, Booklist, March 1999

The Diving Bell

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Elena Ignatova
from Russian by Sibelan Forrester
ISBN 0-939010-85-2 (paper) $14.95
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5¼ x 8
144 pages [bilingual Russian/English]

Elena Ignatova was born in Leningrad in 1947. She became an artistic dissident with regard to the hopelessly compromised literary establishment, but never joined the more alienated literary “underground.” She published in samizdat until the appearance of her only officially recognized book, Teplaia zemliia (The Warm Earth) in 1989. In 1990, Ignatova and her family moved to Israel, where she has worked as a screenwriter of cultural documentaries.

Her poetry exists in a tense balance between her former life in Russia, particularly in the St. Petersburg that was Leningrad, and her subsequent life and its perspectives in Jerusalem. In the last decade it contrasts the new, ancient environs of Jerusalem, described as crystalline and thus distinct from St. Petersburg's characteristic granite, a more chaotically igneous material.

Ignatova says, “I am convinced that art is active:  it can reflect the destruction of the world, of the historical connections of eras, of the human soul—or, on the contrary, can strengthen those connections. I have always wanted to write about the internal connection, the harmony of the world even in difficult times, about the connection of the past with our own fates, about Russia, about the connections of spaces: of the world of the Russian village, where I passed my childhood, of St. Petersburg and the Holy Land.”

Ignatova's work mobilizes remnants of old poetic solemnity, religious, official or even folk locutions, along with Soviet officialese and conversational vocabulary. Her earlier poetry tends to be formally looser and more experimental, but her mature work is much more classical. Thus, her distinctive voice feels familiar, or better, familial, to a reader who knows her predecessors:  she consciously continues their tradition in this and other ways. Her work draws attention to the tragic disharmony between the way things are and the way they should be. Russian history flashes a dark side from the days of Prince Igor or the Mongol invasions, through the oprichniki of Ivan the Terrible, to the Revolution, the Second World War, and beyond. Recent poems reflect current realities from Chernobyl to the current wars in Asia.

Poetry then is the “diving bell” of her title, protecting the poet as well as her readers in a hostile, often toxic environment. It becomes a source of values and ways to approach and understand experience, while still depicting the flaws and compromises of human beings who live in an imperfect world.

Sibelan Forrester translates from Russian, Serbian and Croatian. She is an associate professor of Russian in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at Swarthmore College.

A Million Premonitions - book cover

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Viktor Sosnora
from Russian by Dinara Georgeoliani
and Mark Halperin
ISBN 0-939010-76-3 (paper) $12.95
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5¼ x 7½
144 pages [Bilingual Russian/English]

Reaching back as far as medieval Rus' and as far forward as metrical and linguistic innovation permit, Sosnora has written with a voice unique and wide-ranging. Historical allusion, conscious anachronism, humor, and intensity of word play dominate by turns his range of verse.

When Sosnora was a year and a half, in 1938, he was confined to a clinic for three years with osteotuberculosis, and doctors almost had to amputate his arm and leg. When World War II broke out, Sosnora spent a year under the blockade of Leningrad before being evacuated to a region in the south of the Soviet Union. Soon after he arrived, the Germans overran the region. Sosnora was captured three times by the Gestapo, but because of his youth he was released each time. His grandmother decided that it would be safer for him to live with the partisan detachment led by his uncle, but the Germans captured and executed the partisans, and Sosnora survived only by pretending to be dead after a bullet had grazed his skull. It was shortly after this incident that Sosnora began to write, using a twig to etch his poems on the clay paths, which were washed smooth each time it rained.

My Life

Here comes my life, like an Estonian woman,—
like a sly-tailed lake sprat,
like the age of sheep, an ant or vermouth,
a whisper-fern in amber,
an echo of the sun, sickle in copses,
like drops of air on sparrows' wings,
or a vermicelli-like birch in a marsh,

transparent farmstead in January.
Here comes my life, like a Polish woman,—
in halos of nightingales' hair,
like an ox, straw, a donkey and Maria,
like a slush of words and mazurka-snowstorm,
like a confederate's saber, a robust race horse,
which smashes lilies with its red hoof,
like beaks of glory, an eagle of Krakow,

or a cathedral cross, rebellion.
Here comes my life, like a Jewish woman,—
like a Ruth-violin, era of Eclecticism,
like an urn-measure for golden-yellowish stars,
the cult beyond electric thorns,
like Job's iodine and a surgeon's temple,
like a deci-fingered ring of Moses' revenge,
like the number of the Beast for a forefather's truth,
we are used for gold, harps, the knout!

Viktor Sosnora was born in 1936 in the Crimea. He is known as one of the most consistently experimental of Russian poets, and one of the foremost translators, into Russian, of Catullus, Oscar Wilde, Edgar Allan Poe, and Allen Ginsberg.

Mark Halperin teaches at Central Washington University. His latest book of poems, The Measure of Islands, was published by Wesleyan University Press. Dinara Georgeoliani is a linguist and Assistant Professor of Russian at Central Washington University.

Lions and Acrobats - book cover

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Selected poetry from verbal acrobat

Anatoly Naiman
from Russian by Frank Reeve and Margo Shohl Rosen
ISBN 0-939010-82-8 (paper) $14.95
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5½ x 8
150 pages

Anatoly Genrikovich Naiman, poet, novelist, critic and literary translator, was born in 1936 into a family of followers of Tolstoy. Having studied as an engineer, he became one of the Leningrad group of young poets (including his friend Joseph Brodsky) around Anna Akhmatova, whose literary secretary he became from 1962 until her death in 1966, and about whom he wrote the invaluable and popular memoir, Remembering Anna Akhmatova. In 2001 two of his novels (most recently Sir in 2001) was short-listed for the Russian Booker Prize.

Naiman's work as critic, memoirist, and translator (of Leopardi, Provençal poets, and T. S. Eliot, among others) has often eclipsed his own poetry. Lions and Acrobats—a selection of work from his first four books of poetry in Russian—displays, for the first time in English, the full breadth of Naiman's poetic output.

Anatoly Naiman has been a fellow at Oxford University and at the Kennan Institute of the Woodrow Wilson Center and has lectured on Russian literature at a host of universities in Europe and America.

F. D. Reeve is a poet, a scholar, an anthologist, and the author of a dozen books of translation from Russian and reportage on Russian affairs, including Five Short Novels by Turgenev, the two-volume Anthology of Russian Plays, The Garden (poems by Bella Akhmadulina), and Robert Frost in Russia, which was also published by Zephyr Press.

Margo Shohl Rosen, poet and translator, is a doctoral candidate at Columbia University's Department of Slavic Languages Her translations have been published in the London Review of Books and the Mississippi Review. Her own poetry has appeared in Oktiabr'. In 2004 she was co-winner of the Slavic Department's Pushkin Prize for best poetry translation.

Salute - to Singing - book cover

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Collection of 100 gem-like variations on Chuvash and Tatar folkloric themes

By Gennady Aygi
from Russian by Peter France
ISBN 0-939010-69-0 (paper) $13.95
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5¼ x 7½
96 pages [bilingual Russian/English]

Listen to Peter France read his translations of Gennady Aygi (Episode #105).

Nominated several times for the Nobel Prize for Literature, winner of a number of international literary prizes, and translated into over twenty languages, Gennady Aygi is regarded as one of the most important Russian poets of the second half of the 20th century. He is a poet of the country and stands totally against the classical tradition of Russian poetry from Pushkin to Brodsky.
Poetry London Newsletter

Gennady Aygi is considered to be a major and original voice in contemporary poetry. Aygi's poetry is a curious hybrid, influenced by Russian Symbolism and Futurism, European Modernism, and his Chuvash culture with its ancient pagan religion.
Journal of European Studies

Peter France's scrupulous versions are faithful not simply to the often ambiguous sense of the originals, but also to the typographical minutiae … which spell out the exclamations, questionings, pauses, vulnerabilities and praises of this most remarkable poet.
Times Literary Supplement

These “variations” on folkloric themes are born out of the Chuvash and Turkic motifs that Aygi grew up with, and which Aygi and France have collected in their work on Chuvash poetry. A Turkic language, Chuvash is spoken by about a million and a half people in and around Chuvashia—formerly an autonomous republic of the USSR—located 500 miles east of Moscow. Now in his 60s, Aygi continues to be celebrated as the Chuvash national poet, and as a major poet of the Russian language.

Gennady Aygi and Peter France have collaborated on numerous books, including Gennady Aygi: Selected Poems 1954-94 (translated by Peter France), and An Anthology of Chuvash Poetry (compiled by Gennady Aygi and translated by Peter France).

The Score of the Game - book cover

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Tatiana Shcherbina
from Russian by J. Kates
ISBN 0-939010-73-9 (paper) $12.95
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5¼ x 7½
136 pages

Listen to J. Kates read some of the poems (Episode #28).

Shcherbina emerged in the early 1980s as the spokesperson for the new, independent Moscow culture. Her work was first published in the official press of the Soviet Union in 1986, and five volumes of her poetry were published in samizdat prior to 1990. Her poetry is now widely published in both established and experimental journals at home and abroad, and has been translated into Dutch, German, French, and English. Shcherbina's poetry blends the personal with the political, and the source for her material is pulled from classical literature, as well as French and German cultural influences.

Tatiana Shcherbina was awarded a Bourse de Création from the French Ministry of Culture. After living abroad for several years in the early 1990s, she returned to Moscow, where she has served as editor-in-chief of the cultural journal Estet (Aesthete) since 1995.

Read her blog (in Russian).

J. Kates is a poet and literary translator who lives in Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire. He is the editor of the Zephyr anthology In the Grip of Strange Thoughts.

A Kindred Orphanhood - book cover

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Sergey Gandlevsky
from Russian by Philip Metres
ISBN 0-939010-75-5 (paper) $12.95
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5¼ x 8½
120 pages [Bilingual Russian/English]

We can be grateful to Philip Metres for having introduced English-speaking readers to the astringent and unflappable poems of Sergey Gandlevsky. Like Weldon Kees and Alan Dugan, he is a poet of hard-won clarities, of classical formal concision combined with vernacular swagger. Gandlevsky, with his pugilist stance and lyric heart, is a major discovery.
—David Wojahn

Out of the Rubik's Cube of Russia rise the complex strains of Sergey Gandlevksy … superb translations that uncannily make the Russian ours.
—Andrei Codrescu

Sergey Markovich Gandlevsky was born in Moscow in 1952, one year before Stalin's death. An integral member of the Seventies Generation, Gandlevsky was one of the underground Russian poets who wrote only for themselves and their circles of friends during the Brezhnev era. Gandlevsky began writing too late to enjoy the Thaw, that mid-60s moment of cultural freedom, when Yevtushenko, Vosnesensky, and Akhmadulina recited their poems to packed stadiums. Gandlevsky, like many of the underground, chose unprestigious careers, or even odd jobs, both to avoid participating in what he saw as a morally bankrupt society, while freeing up time for writing and travel. For Gandlevsky, to work was to collaborate with the system that was committing autogenocide.

Gandlevsky packs traditional poetic forms with, on the one hand, numerous literary references (Pushkin, Lermontov, Blok, Mandelstam, Pasternak, Nabokov, Goethe), and on the other, with Soviet-era slang, soap brands, and pop bands. The Third Wave poets like Gandlevsky mirror the work of the New York School and of pop artists like Warhol and Lichtenstein, in their more complex gestures to bracket mass culture in ironic or parodic terms. His poems witness to the twilight period, but also to his own poetic journey as a cultural dissident. Unlike much contemporary verse, Gandlevsky's poems explore cynicism, sentimentality, self-loathing and disdain. Reminiscent of Robert Lowell's work, whose confessional poems of mania seethe under the hard artifice of formal constraints, Gandlevsky's poetry works precisely through yoking oppositions—between form and content, between high concerns and daily indignities. So while traditional themes of poetry emerge from his work—obsession with language, freedom, death, love, the muse—these concerns always emerge against the backdrop of a life full of personal and social vulgarities: militarism, alcoholism, debauchery, ennui.


Look, it's snowing again. There are words in Russian
That make your mouth burn as if from infant formula.
It snows heavily, the head grows heavy,
You almost feel like crying. But these tears
Are from a different time, where a curtain trembles,
A nightingale wails, dawn swims across puddles...
The alarm clock exhausted, you finally rise,
Awakened by a green explosion of poplar.
I once lived in the country. There, where silence
Is equally common in ravine, church, or field,
A truth revealed itself to me:
Pain isn't difficult—it's the monotony of pain.
I lived in the village a month or so.
Patched holes in the wall with rags of oakum.
Spoke aloud to myself, my speech
Slightly overdone, like from a proper play.

A double-barrel gun of operettic length,
A clock, a bed, a pier glass, one leaf missing,
The other showing a slightly distorted
Four-poster bed, the wall clock, the gun.
The laws of genre—that's my field.
I was thrown into shivers, fell into fever,
But the ill-starred firearm of the drama
Just hangs there, forgot to fire.
I'm used to waiting. Anyone alive here?
Hang out with me. Come talk to me.
Today's already lighter than yesterday.
The stubble field is whitest white.
Let's have a smoke, stranger.
This morning I left the house and
Glimpsing the snow, was stunned and heard
Those good words—look, it's snowing again.

This book is the first English translation of work from Sergey Gandlevsky's collected poems, Celebration, originally published in 1995. Winner of both the Little Booker Prize and the Anti-Booker Prize in 1996 for his poetry and prose, Gandlevsky is the author of four books of poems; a memoir, Trepanation of the Skull (1996); a book of essays, Poetic Cuisine (1998); and a novel Unintel. (2001). His books consistently are short-listed for the top Russian literary prizes. He has been included in English translation anthologies 20th Century Russian Poetry: Silver and Steel (Doubleday Press, 1993), The Third Wave (University of Michigan Press, 1992), and In the Grip of Strange Thoughts: Russian Poetry in a New Era (Zephyr Press, 1999).

Philip Metres is a poet and translator of Russian poetry. His own poetry has appeared in Poetry and Best American Poetry 2002. He teaches literature and creative writing at John Carroll University in Cleveland.

Here Comes the Messiah! - book cover

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By Dina Rubina
from Russian by Daniel M. Jaffe
ISBN 0-939010-60-7 (paper), $16.95
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ISBN 0-939010-62-3 (cloth), $27.00
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6 x 9
351 pages

Read Dina Rubina's prose...the way you used to go on a bender—for the shear pleasure of it...For the liveliness of its imagination. For its quick-witted cleverness. For its insatiably greedy attention to life's tiny splinters and to society's variegated debris.
—Alla Marchenko, Novyi Mir

The secret of Rubina's intonation: she alternates tragedy with anecdotes while keeping a straight face. Pain with guffaws. Farce with grief. The strange fabric of Rubina's prose seems familiar and unfamiliar...Anecdote winds around anecdote and gag around gag. Plus the machine-gun, cinema-graphic succession of episodes... Plus a persistent accumulation of scandal throughout the action. And a sound, savory scandal at the end...almost Dostoevskian. The text prickles with hidden quotations, glitters with hints, ripples with recognizable motifs.
—Lev Anninsky, Druzhba Narodov

At times Rubina's prose, which in Daniel Jaffe's fine translation resonates with Russian cadences, is as harmonious as a Tchaikovsky concerto. Other times it is as cacophonous as a scherzo by Stravinsky. But even when Rubina's writing is contemplative, it crackles with energy.
—Marlena Thompson on, Summer 2001

Here Comes The Messiah! both satirizes Russian émigré life in Israel and explores the spiritual aspects of its multi-ethnic population. The novel revolves around Ziama, a Russian Jewish émigré woman living in Israel and Writer N., the woman who is actually writing the life of Ziama. The text moves back and forth between Writer N.'s own “real” life and Ziama's “fictional” life, all of which is being written by yet another narrator. We see Writer N. populate her novel with characters from her own life, we watch them struggle, sometimes hilariously, sometimes tragically, with the dangers and absurdities of life on the West Bank, in Jerusalem and in Tel Aviv. This novel is very much a classical biblical story of a people gone astray and in need of redemption, a story told with as much humor as pathos.

Read an excerpt.

Dina Rubina ( – in Russian) lives with her family in Ma'aleh Adumim, Israel. She is the author of two long novels and many collections of novellas and stories. Her work has been translated into 12 languages, including French, German, English, and Uzbek.

Daniel M. Jaffe ( is a fiction writer and translator of Russian literature. His short stories and essays have appeared in such journals as The Greensboro Review, The American Writer, and The Florida Review. Jaffe is also the editor of With Signs And Wonders: An International Anthology of Fabulist Jewish Fiction (Invisible Cities Press, Spring 2001).

The Complete Poems of Anna Akhmatova - book cover

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from Russian by Judith Hemschemeyer
Edited and Introduced by Roberta Reeder
ISBN 0-939010-27-5 (paper), $29.00
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6 x 9
960 pages

Not only the most comprehensive, but also simply the best English translation ever of the great Russian poet.
Reference & Research Book News

Hemschemeyer's versions [are] in general excellent: accurate, unpretentious, and in the same straightforward and simple key as the original.
The New York Review of Books

We needn't worry again about how to read Akhmatova in translation. The editorial apparatus, the preface and introduction, the inclusion of Isaiah Berlin's brilliant account of his meetings with the poet: all these create an impressive context. And the translations themselves are remarkable.
The Observer [London]

A feast.
Irish Times

Initially published in 1990, when the New York Times Book Review named it one of the fourteen “Best Books of the Year,” this edition has sold over 20,000 copies, making it one of the most successful poetry titles of recent years. This reissued and revised printing features a new biographical essay as well as expanded notes to the poems, both by Roberta Reeder, project editor and author of Anna Akhmatova: Poet and Prophet (St. Martin's Press, 1994). Encyclopedic in scope, with more than 800 poems, 100 photographs, a historical chronology, index of first lines, and bibliography. The Complete Poems will be the definitive English language collection of Akhmatova for many years to come.

Selected Poems of Anna Akhmatova - book cover

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from Russian by Judith Hemschemeyer
Edited and introduced by Roberta Reeder
ISBN 0-939010-61-5 (paper), $16.95
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6 x 9
289 pages

Judith Hemschemeyer has done a heroic job. These are cleanly executed versions from which the strong, pure feeling of Akhmatova transpires.
—Richard Wilbur

If you believe, as I do, that the truly translatable part of poetry is the image, then you will be drawn to Hemschemeyer's translations of Akhmatova.
—Jane Kenyon

Containing more than one hundred poems chosen from The Complete Poems of Anna Akhmatova, which was named one of the best books of 1990 by the New York Times Book Review.

Anna Akhmatova [1889-1966] achieved her first fame as an icon of pre-Revolutionary Russian literary society. After the revolution she became the unofficial spokesperson of all those who suffered through Stalinism. During World War II, the authorities briefly rehabilitated her for her patriotism, but later clamped down with a repression not lifted until the last years of her life, when her literary achievement and international recognition could no longer be ignored.

This selection represents the full span of the poet's career. It includes a preface to Akhmatova's life by Reeder, as well as accompanying notes for Hemschemeyer's definitive translations.

The table of contents.

Judith Hemschemeyer began translating Anna Akhmatova's poems in 1976, and completed the first draft in 1981-82 with the assistance of a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University. Hemschemeyer won the 1986 Associated Writing Programs (AWP) Poetry Prize for her collection, The Ride Home, which was published in 1987 by Texas Tech University Press. Wesleyan University Press published her two previous collections, I Remember the Room Was Filled with Light (1973) and Very Close and Very Slow (1975). Her translations of Akhmatova have appeared in many journals, including The Hudson Review, Ploughshares, Calyx, Stand, and Northwest Review. Hemschemeyer has also translated poems of Alexander Pushkin, Evgeny Rein, and Inna Lisnianskaya.

Roberta Reeder has been involved with Russian literature and culture for most of her life. She has taught at Harvard and Yale, and publishes articles, both here and abroad, on all aspects of Russian culture, and has created a dramatization of Akhmatova's great poem, “Requiem”. In 1994, Reeder published Anna Akhmatova: Poet and Prophet (St. Martin's Press), which the late Stephen Spender called “more than just an excellent biography. It gives a vividly rich picture of the lives of the Russian intelligentsia throughout this century, and reveals so much about the land of Russia. A marvelous book.” The paperback edition (1995) was named one of the best biographies of the year by the N.Y. Times Book Review.

Also available: Complete Poems of Anna Akhmatova [Zephyr Press, ISBN 0-939010-27-5 (paper)]

Sleeper at Harvest Time - book cover

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By Leonid Latynin
from Russian by Andrew Bromfield
ISBN 0-939010-37-2 (paper), $11.00
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5½ x 8
184 pages

Written in an incantatory style, the novel traverses the entire history of Russia, from its violent conversion to Christianity on to the 21st century where people are segregated according to blood type, and may only mix in the blackness of the ruined metro.

Its true hero is its language, which, even in translation…achieves in places a poetic intensity and a musicality that are mesmerizing.
New York Times Book Review

From Three Worlds - book cover

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Edited by Ed Hogan, Askold Melnyczuk, and Michael Naydan
ISBN 0-939010-52-6 (paper), $12.95
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5½ x 8
282 pages

After this long-suppressed culture won independence in 1991, Ukrainian literature shed its underground existence. From Three Worlds is witness to this Ukrainian literary renaissance as the first major publication of Ukrainian literature in English translation.

A vigorous collection of prose and poetry showcasing the work of fifteen of the former Soviet republic's best contemporary writers.
Kirkus Reviews

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