For centuries, poets have looked into the mirror of classical myth to show us the many ways our emotional lives are still reflected in the ancient stories of heroism, hubris, transformation, and loss that myths so eloquently tell. Now, in Gods and Mortals: Modern Poems on Classical Myths, we have the first anthology to gather the great 20th-century myth-inspired poems from around the world.
“Perhaps it is because the myths echo the structure of our unconscious that every new generation of poets finds them a source of inspiration and self-recognition,” says Nina Kossman in her introduction to this marvelous collection. Indeed, from Valery, Yeats, Lawrence, Rilke, Akhmatova, and Auden writing in the first half of the century to such contemporary poets as Lucille Clifton, Derek Walcott, Rita Dove, Wislawa Szymborska, and Mark Strand, the material of Greek myth has elicited poetry of remarkably high achievement. And by organizing the poems first into broad categories such as “Heroes,” “Lovers,” “Trespassers,” and secondly around particular mythological figures such as Persephone, Orpheus, or Narcissus, readers are treated to a fascinating spectrum of poems on the same subject. For example, the section on Odysseus includes poems by Cavafy, W. S. Merwin, Gregory Corso, Gabriel Zaid, Louise Gluck, Wallace Stevens, and many others. Thus we are allowed to see the familiar Greek hero refracted through the eyes, and sharply varying stylistic approaches, of a wide range of poets from around the world.
Here, then, is a collection of extraordinary poems that testifies to–and amply rewards–our ongoing fascination with classical myth.
A book of poems in Russian by Victor Enyutin (San Francisco, 1983). Victor Enyutin is a Russian writer, poet, and sociologist who emigrated to the US from the Soviet Union in 1975.
This collection of personal essays by a bi-national Russian/U.S. author offers glimpses into many things Soviet and post-Soviet: the sacred, the profane, the mundane, the little-discussed and the often-overlooked. What was a Soviet school dance like? Did communists go to church? Did communists listen to Donna Summer? If you want to find out, read on!
“Cold War Casual” is a collection of transcribed oral testimony and interviews translated from Russian into English and from English into Russian that delve into the effect of the events and the government propaganda of the Cold War era on regular citizens of countries on both sides of the Iron Curtain.
Julia Wiener was born in the USSR a few years before the Second World War; her youth was spent during the “Thaw” period, and her maturity coincided with the years of “Soviet stagnation”, which, in her case, ended with her emigration to Israel in the early 1970s. Her wartime childhood, her Komsomol-student youth, her subsequent disillusionment, her meetings with well-known writers (Andrei Platonov, Victor Nekrasov, etc.) are described in a humorous style and colorful detail. Julia brings to life colorful characters – from her Moscow communal apartment neighbors to a hippie London lord, or an Arab family, headed by a devotee of classical Russian literature. No less diverse are the landscapes against which the events unfold: the steppes of Kazakhstan, the Garden of Gethsemane, New York, Amsterdam, London.
Julia Wiener’s novels focus on those moments when illusory human existence collapses in the face of true life, be it spiritual purity, love, old age, or death.