Vasilii Borodin

Moscow plays itself

A preamble

In front of Dostoevsky’s statue, late evening, Lenin Library

In a conversation with the Moscow poet Maria Stepanova, she noted that “unlike Petersburg, which preserves the surface of its history and so forgets everything, Moscow remembers itself in a way by forgetting — by tearing down its buildings and putting up new ones. It remembers itself by being destroyed, preserves itself in crenulations.” This peculiarly “Muscovite” image of memory and history undergirds Stepanova’s work as well, in both its form and content — her poems very often enact what they describe — and it haunts the work of other Moscow poets I’ll be writing about in the coming weeks. Because Moscow is central to this series and to the poets that figure in it, and because it is often — not only in the west, but to itself! — obscured behind a gloss of stereotypes, fictions, and historical positionings, in this preliminary post I try to give a sense of the place, however provisional and subjective. Further posts will focus more scrupulously on poets and their work and on poetry events across the city.  

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