Polina Barskova

Writing trauma in silence and stillness

A review of 'Written in the Dark: Five Poets in the Siege of Leningrad'

This sign on a Leningrad blockade reads: “During air-raids this side of the street is more dangerous.” Photo by Ninaras, via Wikimedia Commons.

From September 1941 to January 1944, as Nazi forces brutally besieged the Russian city of Leningrad, five writers tried to make sense of the chaos swirling around them while they remained trapped in their own city. The works of these Russian writers — Gennady Gor, Dmitry Maksimov, Sergey Rudakov, Vladimir Sterligov, and Pavel Zaltsman — make up the collection Written in the Dark: Five Poets in the Siege of LeningradWritten in the Dark is, in its simplest form, a work of siege poetry: it grapples with the questions that forced stagnation demands.

From September 1941 to January 1944, as Nazi forces brutally besieged the Russian city of Leningrad, five writers tried to make sense of the chaos swirling around them while they remained trapped in their own city. The works of these Russian writers — Gennady Gor, Dmitry Maksimov, Sergey Rudakov, Vladimir Sterligov, and Pavel Zaltsman — make up the collection Written in the Dark: Five Poets in the Siege of Leningrad.

Russian poetic counterpublics

As we all know, poets can be difficult.

Poetry after the Siege of Leningrad

Montage, ekphrasis, allegory

The theme of war should be named as one of the most urgent and, ironically, productive, for contemporary Russian poetry. We find its various incarnations in the works of such striking and dissimilar poets as Elena Fanailova, Mariia Stepanova, and Stanislav Lvovsky.

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