Anna Halberstadt. Translated by the author
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 grew up in Lithuania. She was trained as a psychologist at Moscow University and in the U.S. She is a poet and a translator form Russian, Lithuanian and English.Her poetry in English was widely published in journals such as Caliban, Cimarron Review, Literary Imagination (Oxford Journals), in Russian in Arion, Interpoezia, Children of Ra and many others. Anna’s poetry was translated into Lithuanian, Ukrainian and Tamil . She published four collections of poetry in English – Vilnius Diary and Green in a Landscape with Ashes, and  in Russian – Transit and Gloomy Sun. Anna published a book of her translations of poetry by Eileen Myles, Selected, Selected,  and Nocturnal Fire by Edward Hirsch. She guest-edited two volumes of Russian poetry in English translation for The Café Review (2019 and 2021). Anna Halberstadt is a recipient of the International Merit Award by Atlanta Review, 2016. She received a Poetry prize by the Russian literary journal Children of Ra in 2016. Persona PLUS journal called Translator of the Year 2017 for her translation of Bob Dylan’s poem Brownsville Girl. Vilnius Diary in Lithuanian has become one of the TOP10 books, published in Lithuania in 2017, named by the Lithuanian news site Lt.15. It was also chosen for the list of most important books in translation in 2017 by the Lithuanian Translators Association. Transit, her new book of selected poems in Lithuanian translation, was named one of TOP15 poetry books of 2020 by Lt.15.

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Anna Halberstadt Анна Гальберштадт
Bookshelf
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.

 

 

 

Videos
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