Russian poetry

Deceased Verse

Dmitri Prigov's Little Coffins

Dmitri Prigov, A little coffin of rejected verse
Dmitri Prigov, Odna tysiacha trista semʹdesiat sedʹmoi grobik otrinutykh stikhov [The one thousand three hundred and seventy-seventh little coffin of rejected verse], n.d. Paper, staples, typescript text, 14.7 x 10.5 cm. Photo courtesy of the Moscow Museum of Modern Art. Reproduced with the permission of the Estate of Dmitri Prigov.

The tension between the book as individual copy and as mass reproduced object is reframed and even collapsed in samizdat literature, the illegally copied and circulated typescripts that created an entire world of literary and intellectual life in the late-Soviet period. Samizdat texts were reproduced, four or five copies at a time through the act of retyping and the use of carbon copy. In these works, the acts of writing, copying, and publishing effectively fuse.

Beginning in the 1970s, conceptual writer and artist Dmitri Prigov sought to investigate the relationship between text and copy in laboriously reproduced samizdat texts, which in spite — in fact because — of their poor quality became fetishized objects for members of the Soviet samizdat community. Prigov exploited the nature of the samizdat text to produce singular works in which the materiality of the book plays a key role. At the same time, he stressed the relationship between the writer and copyist, between unique work and reproduction in samizdat book culture.

Dmitri Prigov’s ABC of Russian culture

Gerald Janecek on the Alphabet Poems

Andrei and Dmitri Prigov
Dmitri Prigov and Andrei Prigov (PMP Group––also including Natalia Mali), video still from Narod i vlast' sovmestno lepiat obraz novoi Rossii (The people and the state together are building an image of the new Russia), 2003. DVD, 8 minutes.

Today I present a guest post from Gerald Janecek, who has contributed so much to our understanding of the visual, verbal, and sonic breadth of Russian avant-garde poetry from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present day. Jerry’s and my shared interests include the work of the conceptual artist and writer Dmitri Prigov, whose iterative practice spanned a vast range of genres and media from sculpture to performance, poetry to theatre. Some time ago, Jerry shared with me an extraordinary video of Prigov performing with the musician Vladimir Tarasov in the apartment studio of Ilya Kabakov in Moscow in 1986. Below, I present part of this video: Prigov and Tarasov’s performance of the 49-aya azbuka or 49th Alphabet from Prigov’s Alphabet series (you can read the Russian text here). Jerry’s commentary on the work and its performance follows. Together I hope they will serve as an introduction to a writer and artist who deserves to be far better known in the English-speaking world.

The New Russian Poetry

Over 70 items, Russian poems and Articles, in Jacket 36:

Russian poster
Russian poster

Editor: Peter Golub; Co-editor: Tatyana Golub
[»»] Peter Golub: A New Beginning: The Young Post-Soviet Poets

From Peter Golub’s Introduction:
These poets are both the catalysts and the products of a paradigm shift in Russian letters. They came of age when the traditional institutions of the Soviet Union no longer existed or when these institutions were undergoing heavy revision during perestroika.

Arkadii Dragomoshchenko

Remembering a great writer and friend

Arkadii Dragomoshchenko

I had already started writing my first commentary for Jacket2. But then I had to begin again.

Earlier today I learnt of the passing of a great poet and a friend: Arkadii Dragomoshchenko.

I discovered on the weekend that Arkadii was seriously unwell. As a result, I dedicated the launch party for my book A Common Strangeness that we held in Dunedin, New Zealand, on Monday to him. As part of the launch, the New Zealand poet Cilla McQueen read the first part of his long poem “A Nasturtium as Reality” alongside her own poem “Photon.” It was just the latest in a long line of cross-cultural encounters generated by Arkadii’s work.

Rubinstein in Serial Motion

video portrait of Lev Rubinstein, 11/18/07

Matvei Yankelevitch asked me to join Lev Rubinstein in a memorial tribute to Dmitri Prigov at the Bowery Poetry Club. Rubinstein's is a poetry of changing parts that ensnares the evanescent uncanniness of the everyday (in ways that bring to mind the seriality of both Reznikoff and Grenier). By means of rhythmically foregrounding a central device — the basic unit of the work is the index card — Rubinstein continuously re-makes actual for us a flickering now time that is both intimate and strange.

Sasha Chernyi's "Poems from Children's Island"

Translated from Russian by Kevin Kinsella
from Katie Fowley's  Lightful Press

If you, like me, sometimes wonder why chocolates don’t grow on beds and frogs don’t use pillows, if you think that girls are cheese and boys potatoes (or is it the other round a way?); if you, even just once in a scarlet moon, imagine that little mouses are far braver than humungous lions, then these poems may be for you. Not recommended for adults! as these rimes are far too clever, and besides adults don’t like poetry.

Your language—my ear

Russian and American poetry at close quarters

Today at Penn, Latvian, Russian and American poets are working on translations, to be presented tomorrow night.  Marvei Yankelevitch is here for the conference keynot at 5pm. Full conference program  here.

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