Marina Tsvetaeva is acknowledged today as one of the twentieth century’s greatest poets, a masterful innovator who produced a remarkable body of work before her untimely death in 1941. This bilingual collection contains six of her acclaimed narrative poems, most translated into English for the first time.
Tsvetaeva always regarded the narrative poem as her true challenge, and she created powerful and intensely original works in this genre. They can be seen as markers of various stages in her poetic development, ranging from the early, folk-accented On a Red Steed to the lyrical-confessional Poem of the Mountain and Poem of the End to the more metaphysical later poems, An Attempt at a Room, Poem of the Mountain, a beautiful requiem for Rainer Maria Rilke, New Year’s Greetings, and Poem of the Air, a stirring celebration of Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight and the quest for the soul’s freedom. These translations were first published by Ardis in 1998 and reprinted by Overlook in 2004 and 2009. The current edtion was published by Shearsman Press (UK) in 2021.
These English poems by Gari have the same energy and elegance as his Russian poems, and they are enriched by his multilayered, polyphonic use of the English language to express thoughts and feelings with sophistication and humor.
Sergey Gandlevsky’s 2002 novel Illegible has a double-time focus, centering on the immediate experiences of Lev Krivorotov, a twenty-year-old poet living in Moscow in the 1970s, as well as his retrospective meditations thirty years later after most of his hopes have foundered.
In the surreal and darkly humorous stories of Alta Ifland’s Elegy for a Fabulous World, the narrator recalls an eccentric family and their polyglot friends and neighbors–Hungarians, Germans, Romanians, Gypsies, Jews, Russians–surviving together in a space where fable, reality, and State-issued lies are impossible to untangle.