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An Anthology of Contemporary Russian Women Poets
Valentina Polukhina
University of Iowa Press, 2005
Based on an exhaustive review of Russian poetry, An Anthology of Contemporary Russian Women Poets is the first comprehensive collection of its kind. Editors Valentina Polukhina and Daniel Weissbort read some one thousand collections and manuscripts and thoroughly surveyed the vibrant Russian literary Internet, gathering works by women poets from Moscow to Vladivostok, those living abroad, and those domiciled in former republics of the Soviet Union. The resulting anthology presents English translations of works by more than eighty poets.

Focusing on the middle generation, with major figures such as Olga Sedakova, Svetlana Kekova, Vera Pavlova, and Tatyana Shcherbina, the collection also includes work by the youngest generation—born after 1970 and not yet known outside of Russia—as well as senior poets such as Bella Akhmadulina and Natalya Gorbanevskaya. Translators include such poets as Elaine Feinstein, Ruth Fainlight, Carol Rumens, and Daniel Weissbort as well as Russianists and scholars Peter France, Catriona Kelly, Robert Reid, and Stephanie Sandler.

A significant and extensive bibliography lists the major works of prominent Russian women poets. A preface by Stephanie Sandler, a concluding note by Dmitry Kuzmin on the online Vavilon project, a postface by Elena Fanailova, and biographical notes on the poets and translators complete the anthology, which is sure to be of great interest to students and scholars of Russian literature.

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Avant-Garde Post–
Radical Poetics after the Soviet Union
Marijeta Bozovic
Harvard University Press, 2023

The remarkable story of seven contemporary Russian-language poets whose experimental work anchors a thriving dissident artistic movement opposed to both Putin’s regime and Western liberalism.

What does leftist art look like in the wake of state socialism? In recent years, Russian-language avant-garde poetry has been seeking the answers to this question. Marijeta Bozovic follows a constellation of poets at the center of a contemporary literary movement that is bringing radical art out of the Soviet shadow: Kirill Medvedev, Pavel Arseniev, Aleksandr Skidan, Dmitry Golynko, Roman Osminkin, Keti Chukhrov, and Galina Rymbu. While their formal experiments range widely, all share a commitment to explicitly political poetry. Each one, in turn, has become a hub in a growing new-left network across the former Second World.

Joined together by their work with the Saint Petersburg–based journal [Translit], this circle has staunchly resisted the Putin regime and its mobilization of Soviet nostalgia. At the same time, the poets of Avant-Garde Post– reject Western discourse about the false promises of leftist utopianism and the superiority of the liberal world. In opposing both narratives, they draw on the legacies of historical Russian and Soviet avant-gardes as well as on an international canon of Marxist art and theory. They are also intimately connected with other artists, intellectuals, and activists around the world, collectively restoring leftist political poetry to global prominence.

The avant-garde, Bozovic shows, is not a relic of the Soviet past. It is a recurrent pulse in Russophone—as well as global—literature and art. Charged by that pulse, today’s new left is reimagining class-based critique. Theirs is an ongoing, defiant effort to imagine a socialist future that is at once global and egalitarian.


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The Bilingual Muse
Self-Translation among Russian Poets
Adrian Wanner
Northwestern University Press, 2020

The Bilingual Muse analyzes the work of seven Russian poets who translated their own poems into English, French, German, or Italian. Investigating the parallel versions of self-translated poetic texts by Vladimir Nabokov, Joseph Brodsky, Andrey Gritsman, Katia Kapovich, Marina Tsvetaeva, Wassily Kandinsky, and Elizaveta Kul’man, Adrian Wanner considers how verbal creativity functions in different languages, the conundrum of translation, and the vagaries of bilingual identities.

Wanner argues that the perceived marginality of self-translation stems from a romantic privileging of the mother tongue and the original text. The unprecedented recent dispersion of Russian speakers over three continents has led to the emergence of a new generation of diasporic Russians who provide a more receptive milieu for multilingual creativity.


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Brodsky in English
Zakhar Ishov
Northwestern University Press, 2023
A deeply researched account of Joseph Brodsky’s evolution in English as a self-translator and a poet in translation

Joseph Brodsky’s translations of his own Russian-language poems into English “new originals” have been criticized for their “un-Englishness,” an appraisal based on a narrow understanding of translation itself. With this radical reassessment of the Nobel Prize winner’s self-translations, Zakhar Ishov proposes a fresh approach to poetry translation and challenges the assumption that poetic form is untranslatable. 

Brodsky in English draws on previously unexamined archival materials, including drafts and correspondence with translators and publishers, to trace the arc of Brodsky’s experience with the English language. Ishov shows how Brodsky’s belief in the intellectual continuity between his former life in the Soviet Union and his new career in the United States, including as Poet Laureate, anchored his insistence on maintaining the formal architecture of his poems in translation, locating the transmission of poetic meaning in the rhythms of language itself. This book highlights Brodsky’s place within the long history of the compromises translation must make between linguistic material and poetic process.

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Everything Has Already Been Written
Moscow Conceptualist Poetry and Performance
Gerald Janecek
Northwestern University Press, 2019
Innovative poets such as Vsevolod Nekrasov, Lev Rubinstein, and Dmitry Prigov are among the most prominent literary figures of Russia in the 1980s and 1990s, yet they are virtually unknown outside Russia. The same is true of the numerous active Russian performance art groups, especially the pioneering Collective Actions group led by the brilliantly inventive Andrei Monastyrsky. Everything Has Already Been Written strives to make Moscow Conceptualism more accessible, to break the language barrier and to foster understanding among an international readership by thoroughly discussing a broad range of specific works and theories. Janecek’s study is the first comprehensive analysis of Moscow Conceptualist poetry and theory, vital for an understanding of Russian culture in the post‑Conceptualist era.

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How Women Must Write
Inventing the Russian Woman Poet
Olga Peters Hasty
Northwestern University Press, 2019
In How Women Must Write, Olga Peters Hasty takes us from an emphatically male Romantic age to a modernist period preoccupied with women’s creativity but also with its containment. In late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Russia, the woman poet was invented: by women poets themselves, by readers who projected gender biases into their poems, and by male poets who wrote posing as women. Examining Karolina Pavlova and Evdokiia Rostopchina, who inspired those writing after them, as well as two women invented by men, Cherubina de Gabriak and Briusov’s Nelli, and challenges to male authority by Marina Tsvetaeva and Anna Akhmatova, this book shows women as purposeful actors realizing themselves creatively and advancing the woman poet’s cause. It will appeal to the general reader and to specialists in Russian literature, women’s studies, and cultural history.

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Ice Floe III
Edited by Shannon Gramse and Sarah Kirk
University of Alaska Press, 2012

The third volume of the revived Ice Floe series, Ice Floe III features new and exciting works of poetry by authors from Alaska, Canada, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. All work is presented in both its original language and in English translation. The contributors—Nancy Lord, Tom Sexton, Eira Stenberg, and Riina Katajavuori, among others—include established and emerging poets. This dynamic and vibrant collection of voices from the northern latitudes will be a great read for all poetry enthusiasts and devoted readers of international literature.


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Lyric Complicity
Poetry and Readers in the Golden Age of Russian Literature
Daria Khitrova
University of Wisconsin Press, 2019
For many nineteenth-century Russians, poetry was woven into everyday life—in conversation and correspondence, scrapbook albums, and parlor entertainments. Blending close literary analysis with social and cultural history, Daria Khitrova shows how poetry lovers of the period all became nodes in a vast network of literary appreciation and constructed meaning. Poetry during the Golden Age was not a one-way avenue from author to reader. Rather, it was participatory, interactive, and performative.
Lyric Complicity helps modern readers recover Russian poetry’s former uses and functions—life situations that moved people to quote or perform a specific passage from a poem or a forgotten occasion that created unforgettable verse.

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Mandelstam, Blok, and the Boundaries of Mythopoetic Symbolism
Stuart Goldberg
The Ohio State University Press, 2011

“Mandelstam had no teacher,” marveled Anna Akhmatova, reflecting on his early maturity and singularity. But Mandelstam himself spoke of the need and even duty to study a poet’s literary roots. So how did this consummately complex, compelling, multi-resonant poet navigate and exploit the burden of the Russian Symbolist movement from which he emerged? How did this process change and augment his poetry?

Through a series of illuminating readings, Stuart Goldberg explores the ongoing role that the poetry of Russian Symbolism played in Osip Mandelstam’s creative life, laying bare the poet’s productive play with distance and immediacy in his assimilation of the Symbolist heritage. At the same time, Mandelstam, Blok, and the Boundaries of Mythopoetic Symbolism presents the first coherent narrative of the poet’s fraught relationship with Alexander Blok, the most powerful poetic voice among the Symbolists. This dialogue, which was largely one-sided, extended beyond poetic intertext into the realms of poetics, charisma, and personality.
Goldberg’s study pushes theoretical boundaries, exploring the juncture between pragmatics and intertext, adapting and challenging Bloom’s anxiety of influence theory, and, ultimately, tracing a shift in the nature of sincerity and authenticity that divided poetic generations.

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Poetry and the Nation State
Tom Paulin
Harvard University Press, 1992

One of the most powerful poets of his generation consolidates his reputation as an exceptionally forthright and astringent critic in this book that analyzes the relationship between English-language literature, especially poetry, and nineteenth and twentieth-century politics. Tom Paulin's criticism stays on track, always responsive to a work's characteristic genius and sensitive to its social setting.

Each of these essays—on poets ranging from Robert Southey and Christina Rossetti to Philip Larkin, from John Clare to Elizabeth Bishop and Ted Hughes, with a few excursions into the poetry of Eastern Europe for contrast—is informed by a love for poetry and a lively attention to detail. At every turn, Paulin demonstrates the intricate connection between the private imagination and society at large, simultaneously illuminating the kinship between the literature of the past and of the present. He also relates the poetry to themes of nationhood and to ideas about orality, speech rhythms, and vernacular background. Minotaur exemplifies the sort of general, accessible criticism of the arts that will interest a wide range of readers.


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The Poetry and Poetics of Olga Sedakova
Origins, Philosophies, Points of Contention
Edited by Stephanie Sandler, Maria Khotimsky, Margarita Krimmel, and Oleg Novikov
University of Wisconsin Press, 2019
Olga Sedakova stands out among contemporary Russian poets for the integrity, erudition, intellectual force, and moral courage of her writing. After years of flourishing quietly in the late Soviet underground, she has increasingly brought her considered voice into public debates to speak out for freedom of belief and for those who have been treated unjustly. This volume, the first collection of scholarly essays to treat her work in English, assesses her contributions as a poet and as a thinker, presenting far-reaching accounts of broad themes and patterns of thought across her writings as well as close readings of individual texts.

Essayists from Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Italy, and the United States show how Sedakova has contributed to ongoing aesthetic and cultural debates. Like Sedakova's own work, the volume affirms the capacity of words to convey meaning and to change our understanding of life itself. The volume also includes dozens of elegant new translations of Sedakova's poems.

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Reinventing Romantic Poetry
Russian Women Poets of the Mid-Nineteenth Century
Diana Greene
University of Wisconsin Press, 2003

Reinventing Romantic Poetry offers a new look at the Russian literary scene in the nineteenth century. While celebrated poets such as Aleksandr Pushkin worked within a male-centered Romantic aesthetic—the poet as a bard or sexual conqueror; nature as a mother or mistress; the poet’s muse as an idealized woman—Russian women attempting to write Romantic poetry found they had to reinvent poetic conventions of the day to express themselves as women and as poets. Comparing the poetry of fourteen men and fourteen women from this period, Diana Greene revives and redefines the women’s writings and offers a thoughtful examination of the sexual politics of reception and literary reputation.
The fourteen women considered wrote poetry in every genre, from visions to verse tales, from love lyrics to metaphysical poetry, as well as prose works and plays. Greene delves into the reasons why their writing was dismissed, focusing in particular on the work of Evdokiia Rostopchina, Nadezhda Khvoshchinskaia, and Karolina Pavlova. Greene also considers class as a factor in literary reputation, comparing canonical male poets with the work of other men whose work, like the women’s, was deemed inferior at the time. The book also features an appendix of significant poems by Russian women discussed in the text. Some, found in archival notebooks, are published here for the first time, and others are reprinted for the first time since the mid-nineteenth century.


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Russian Minimalism
From the Prose Poem to the Anti-Story
Adrian Wanner
Northwestern University Press, 2003
Russian Minimalism is the first book to apply the theoretical debate on the nature of the prose poem to Russian literature. Challenging traditional concepts of poetry and narrative prose, the prose poem is by nature a "subversive" form—and as such has drawn extensive interest in literature and criticism during the past two decades. In Russian Minimalism, Adrian Wanner uses the notion of minimalism, borrowed from the realm of American visual arts, as a critical tool for a historical investigation of the genesis and development of the Russian prose miniature, going back to the nineteenth and early twentieth century.

The paradoxical genre of the prose poem, developed by the French poet Charles Baudelaire, provides Wanner with an overarching theoretical rubric for a variety of works of Russian literature, ranging from Ivan Turgenev's "Poems in Prose" to a host of decadent, symbolist, realist, and futurist miniatures, including Fedor Sologub's "Little Fairy Tales," Aleksei Remizov's dreams, Vasilii Kandinskii's prose poems, and Daniil Kharms' absurdist ministories. His book demonstrates how the negativity inherent in the form of the prose poem transformed the overwrought lyricism of fin de siècle prose into the ascetic starkness of the twentieth-century minimalist anti-story.

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Russian Women Poets of the Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries
A Bilingual Edition
Edited and Translated by Amanda Ewington
Iter Press, 2014
Russian Women Poets of the Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries is a bold, pioneering achievement. Not only does it bring to light a poetic tradition that has been totally forgotten for over two centuries, even in its country of origin, but it does so in a broadly inclusive fashion. It offers both the Russian texts (verified against their original publications) as well as accurate English translations, accompanied by short illuminating biographical and critical introductions. It thus makes this intriguing material accessible to a broad spectrum of readers, from the curious generalist to the scholar. This corpus of texts sheds significant light on the genesis and formation of modern Russian verse and on the ways in which this new cohort of poets strove to find their voice during a complex era of shifting literary, cultural and gender values, navigating between the male-oriented high genres of Neoclassicism and the “feminized” modes of Sentimentalism.
—Marcus C. Levitt
Professor, Department of Slavic Languages, University of Southern California

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Silence and the Rest
Verbal Skepticism in Russian Poetry
Sofya Khagi
Northwestern University Press, 2013

Scholars have long noted the deeply rooted veneration of the power of the word—both the expressive and communicative capacities of language—in Russian literature and culture. In her ambitious book Silence and the Rest, Sofya Khagi illuminates a consistent counternarrative, showing how, throughout its entire history, Russian poetry can be read as an argument for what she calls “verbal skepticism.” Although she deals with many poets from a two-century tradition, Khagi gives special emphasis to Osip Mandelstam, Joseph Brodsky, and Timur Kibirov, offering readings that add new layers of meaning to their work. She posits a long-running dialogue between the poets and the philosophers and theorists who have also been central to the antiverbal strain of Russian culture. Unlike its Western counterpart, the Russian philosophical and theological doubt of the efficacy of the word still grants the author, and literature itself, an ethical force—the inadequacies of language notwithstanding.


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Twentieth-Century Russian Poetry
John Glad
University of Iowa Press, 1992

This celebrated anthology, first published in 1978 as Russian Poetry: The Modern Period, provides a much-needed panoramic overview of Russian poetry since the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917.

Major features of this collection include a new and expanded introduction, a substantial new section of glasnost-era poetry, a generous sampling of postrevolutionary poetry in Russia, full representation of poets of the first and second post-World War II generations, and poetry of the successive emigrations, flights, or expulsions from Russia.

Twentieth-Century Russian Poetry makes an important contribution to our continuing understanding of a changing world order. This anthology should be read by all those who wish to know more about the poetry of Russia, those interested in international cultural and literary history, and all Slavicists.


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Unorthodox Beauty
Russian Modernism and Its New Religious Aesthetic
Martha M. F. Kelly
Northwestern University Press, 2016

Unorthodox Beauty shows how Russian poets of the early twentieth century consciously adapted Russian Orthodox culture in order to create a distinctly religious modernism. Martha M. F. Kelly contends that, beyond mere themes, these writers developed an entire poetics that drew on liturgical tradition. Specifically, Russian Orthodoxy held out the possibility of unifying spirit and matter, as well as a host of other dichotomies—subject and object, empirical and irrational, noumena and phenomena. The artist could produce a work of transformative and regenerative power. Using a range of crossdisciplinary tools, Kelly reads key works by Blok, Kuzmin, Akhmatova, and Pasternak in ways that illustrate how profoundly religious traditions and ideas shaped Russian modernist literature.


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You Will Hear Thunder
Anna Akhmatova
Ohio University Press, 2017

Anna Akhmatova lived through pre-revolution Russia, Bolshevism, and Stalinism. Throughout it all, she maintained an elegant, muscular style that could grab a reader by the throat at a moment’s notice. Defined by tragedy and beauty in equal measure, her poems take on romantic frustration and the pull of the sensory, and find power in the mundane. Above all, she believed that a Russian poet could only produce poetry in Russia.

You Will Hear Thunder spans Akhmatova’s very early career into the early 1960s. These poems were written through her bohemian prerevolution days, her many marriages, the terror and privation of life under Stalin, and her later years, during which she saw her work once again recognized by the Soviet state. Intricately observed and unwavering in their emotional immediacy, these strikingly modern poems represent one of the twentieth century’s most powerful voices.


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