Contemporary Russian Poetry: An Anthology, edited by Evgeny Bunimovich and James Kates

The state of contemporary Russian writing is a troubled one. When Scott Turow, author but also the president of the Authors Guild, visited Russia in 2012, he learned that there are only a handful of publishers left “while e-publishing is savaged by instantaneous piracy that goes almost completely unpoliced. As a result, in the country of Tolstoy and Chekhov, few Russians, let alone Westerners, can name a contemporary Russian author whose work regularly affects the national conversation.”
And while many are familiar with the Golden Age of Aleksandr Pushkin’s poetry, contemporary Russian poets largely remain unknown not only to their compatriots but also to international readers of poetry. What a pity, for the great artists have access to a sensitivity that most people do not possess, and great poets have the ability to show us a little more of the world. In other words, Russian poets can help readers better understand Russia and the world of today.
But while it’s true that Russian poets receive little attention, it is also true that – since the fall of Soviet Union – they’ve been able to travel internationally – especially to Western Europe, North America, and Israel. And writing programs in Russia and in the world at large have widened exchanges of poetry and deepened understanding. Thus, Contemporary Russian Poetry: An Anthology edited by poets Evgeny Bunimovich and James Kates.
The collection contains poems from 44 living Russian poets born after 1945 and gives room to many different movements in Russian poetry. Many of the young and emerging voices are women – Marianna Geide, Anna Russ, and Maria Stepanova to mention a few – and these new voices are quietly passionate, tender, raw, vulnerable, and strong.
There is something timeless about Maria Stepanova’s poetry, and her poetic language has been described as “very distinctive: word forms pass through deformation on every level, bringing new senses, both actual and potential, to light.”
“You only need to make a move with a wing/ For an oof in the belly; the floor is left/ Far below; my dear ones, farewell,/ Write to me “general delivery”/ – Immortal, forever immortal am I,/ Even Styx can’t stop my flight!”.

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