Anna Halberstadt. Translated by the author

Also in Translations:

Anna Halberstadt. Translated by the author
Vilnius
Anna Halberstadt. Translated by the author

VILNIUS—DOES IT EXIST?

Inspired by “To Go to Lvov” by Adam Zagajewski 

When I walk the streets of Vilnius
I search for daydreams,
for what’s no longer,
not for Proust’s madeleines
but for my mother in her blue
polka-dot dress
making strawberry jam
in the kitchen
I’m tasting the pink foam from a spoon.

Windows open into the courtyard
with old storage sheds,
no foreign, or any, cars parked there.
The Tolerance Museum is still a movie theater—
Pionierius—
the city had more movie theaters then
than open churches.

Our neighbor, a theater seamstress,
is making a plaid pleated dress for me
on her foot-pedaled Singer machine,
Father playing chess until dawn with
Sinioras, the journalist from
Literatūra ir menas.

At the park across the street from
Kronika, old women in babushkas
sell bouquets of blue cornflowers
and blood-red and purple mums.
It’s July and dry shells with seeds
are already covering paths
between old linden trees.

I am still fourteen;
we have not moved to Antakalnis yet
from the tiny apartment on Pylimo,
but now we have a gas-heated
bathroom,
a new tub installed by my parents.

Last year, when I’d shown the house
where I grew up to my son,
a man in a wife-beater was stripping
the floors in my parents’ living room
the view of old Vilnius from the seamstress’s
little room was as magical as it was
when I was six
the door to the bathroom was open
and the old gas heater installed by my parents
was still there,
looking antique.

 

About the Author:

Anna Halberstadt
Anna Halberstadt
New York, USA

Anna Halberstadt is a poet and a translator from Russian, Lithuanian and English, who grew up in Lithuania and was trained as a psychologist at Moscow University and in the U.S. Her poetry in English was widely published in English-language journals, and Russian, in Arion, Interpoezia, Children of Ra and many others. Her poetry was translated into Lithuanian, Ukrainian, and Tamil. She published four collections of poetry in English, and Transit and Gloomy Sun (in Russian).

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Anna Halberstadt Анна Гальберштадт
Bookshelf
by Victor Enyutin

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.

by Anna Krushelnitskaya

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!

by Anna Krushelnitskaya

“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.

by Julia Wiener

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.

by Julia Wiener

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.

by Nina Kossman

A collection of poems in Russian. Published by Khudozhestvennaya literatura. Moscow, 1990.

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