Relocations: Three Contemporary Russian Women Poets (In the Grip of Strange Thoughts) (Paperback)
Polina Barskova, Anna Glazova, and Maria Stepanova all were born in the early to mid-1970s and came of age during perestroika. They are old enough to have visceral memories of Soviet life but young enough to move adeptly with the new influences, new media and new life choices introduced in the post-Soviet era. In distinct ways all three are engaged in the project of renovating Russia's great modernist tradition for a radically different historical situation. They write poems of imaginative daring, pushing recognizable scenarios into the fantastic, the surreal or the speculative, bending form and language to the task. They also display a cerebral firepower boosted by their education in institutions Soviet, European and American, and which they exercise in their chosen professions--Barskova and Glazova are academics, teaching at Hampshire College and Cornell University respectively, and Stepanova is chief editor of the influential online journal Open Space. Barskova, Glazova, and Stepanova read one another attentively and have published reviews of each other's work, a mark of how they perceive themselves as engaged in the same project of modernizing Russian poetry. The broad trend in Russian poetry after the collapse of Soviet-era literary paradigms has been dispersal--of hierarchies, of institutions, of poetic models and of poets themselves, many of whom live and work outside the cultural capitals, whether abroad or in the provinces. These poets are moving beyond the Russian modernists' engagement with totalitarianism to address subjects such as the Holocaust and the war in Chechnya, and they are doing so in a fundamentally new mode.
Relocations is a highly enjoyable collection of poetry introducing the English-language world to three incredibly diverse and talented women poets writing in Russian that could be as meaningful to a casual fan of poetry as to a comparative literature scholar. A much-needed, timely, fun, and all-too-relevant read in 2014. --Will Evans, Three Percent