SLS Arkadii Dragomoshchenko Prize for Innovative Poetry

new poetry contest

photo © Charles Bernstein

Summer Literary Seminars (SLS) is proud to announce the first annual Arkadii Dragomoshchenko Prize for Innovative Poetry

Arkadii Dragomoshchenko (1946-2012) was a remarkable, groundbreaking Russian poet and prose writer, whose lifelong literary project sought to accelerate the movement of thought and deepen the philosophical cognition of reality by means of expanding and transcending the boundaries of language and its rhythmical arrangements. Wholly and selflessly dedicated to the noble literary endeavor, he was a resolute risk-taker in every aspect of it, be it writing against the grain of the mainstream, canonical Russian poetry or working tirelessly to bring closer together the new, forward-bound strains of Russian and international (in particular, North American) poetry. Having come to Leningrad from his native Ukraine as a young man, he quickly became the center of the city's burgeoning underground/"samizdat" literary scene. Virtually every single interesting project in second-culture's underground in Leningrad could count him as one of its primary originators. A close friend of several decades’ standing to some of us at SLS, he was an ardent and early proponent of the SLS-St. Petersburg program; and he subsequently, as program's poet-in-residence, took part in every one of its ten ('98--'08) sessions.

Above and beyond everything else, he was, simply, a very good man, an individual of great decency and integrity; a rare, light-filled man.

 SLS would like to commemorate his life, if only in a small way, by establishing a literary prize in his honor. Participation is open to everyone, regardless of  previous level of accomplishment or native language. All entries must be in English. We will look for poetry that Arkadii himself would have liked: interesting, thoughtful, inventive, unafraid to be bold, driven by strong inner rhythm, breaking the linguistic barriers -- in a word, innovative, where innovation is not just a concept but a necessity

Charles Bernstein, the esteemed American poet and long-time friend of Arkadii's, has agreed to be the final judge for the Prize. The winning entry will be published on Bernstein’s commentary page at Jacket2, a widely read site for new poetics. In addition,  winner will receive free tuition and $1000 in travel funds to attend the 2013 SLS-Lithuania/East-Central Europe program.

 For full contest guidelines, please follow the link:

––Mikhail Iossel