Michael Kossman. Oblivion
Illustration by Nadia
Michael Kossman. Oblivion


Кто-то чертит на черном песке чудные узоры,
Пенье сирен заместилось сплетеньем цветов,
Лотос-цветок на песке зацветает, и шепчут суфлеры:
“Засыпай, спи спокойно, во сне позабудешь свой кров”.

День наступит, и я заживу смеясь, по другому,
День наступал, но слова приносила мне мгла:
“Ты непохож на Улисса, хоть ты и уехал из дому,
И давно Пенелопа покров погребальный спряла”.



Someone is drawing wondrous patterns on black sand,
The singing of sirens is replaced with a mesh of flowers,
Lotus blooms in the sand, and prompters whisper to me:
“Go to sleep, sleep peacefully, in sleep you’ll forget your home.”

The day will break, and perhaps I shall live again, laughing.
The day came, but the dark mist brought me these words:
“You are not Ulysses at all, although you left your home,
And Penelope has woven the burial shroud for you.”


Translated from Russian by Nina Kossman

About the Author:

Michael Kossman
Michael Kossman
New York

Michael Kossman was a poet, prose writer, translator of poetry from English and German, and literary critic. He was born in Moscow, where he graduated from high school and began his university studies. He emigrated from the USSR in 1972. He spent one year in Israel, where he studied at the University of Haifa. In 1973 he arrived in the US, first settling in Cleveland where his father had a college teaching job, then in New York. He graduated from Columbia University with a master’s degree in Russian literature. He wrote amazing poems and short stories but was indifferent to publication and refused to publish his work. Unfortunately, most of his best poems were lost, as he did not care to keep them in an organized way. He translated poems by W.B. Yeats (from English) and Hermann Hesse (from German) into Russian. He authored studies on Bulgakov’s “The Master and Margarita” and on Zamyatin’s unfinished novel “The Scourge of God”. He was not only a unique poet and short story writer, but also a thinker, and his thinking often verged on the prophetic. He saw life and death so clearly, that in some of his poems written many years ago, he predicted his own death. He passed away on the same night and at the same time as his father, Jan. 22, 2010. After his passing, his sister found an envelope with a few of his poems and arranged for their publication.

About the Translator:

Nina Kossman
Nina Kossman
New York, USA

Nina Kossman’s nine books include three books of poems in Russian and English, two books of short stories, an anthology she edited for Oxford University Press, and a novel. Her work has been translated from English into French, Spanish, Greek, Japanese, Hebrew, Persian, Chinese, Russian, Italian, Danish, and Dutch. Her Russian work was published in Russian periodicals in and outside of Russia. She is a recipient of an NEA fellowship, UNESCO/PEN Short Story award, grants from the Onassis Foundation and the Foundation for Hellenic Culture.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email
Michael Kossman Михаил Косман
by Gari Light

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.

by Marina Tsvetaeva. Translated by Nina Kossman.

This new edition by Shearsman Press (UK) contains translations of Marina Tsvetaeva’s narrative poems (поэмы). 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 RoomPoem 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.




Play Video
Poetry Reading in Honor of Brodsky’s 81st Birthday
Length: 1:35:40
Play Video
The Café Review Poetry Reading in Russian and in English
Length: 2:16:23