Vita Shtivelman. On the Centennial of the USSR. Translated by Maria Bloshteyn

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Photo by Cheburashkina_Svetlana (CC BY 2.0)
Vita Shtivelman. On the Centennial of the USSR. Translated by Maria Bloshteyn

Sivka, magic horse, cavorts,

sloshed Snow Maiden’s out-of-sorts,

Murka hides her gun under her skirt,

and it’s à la guerre comme à la guerre:

in the land where birch is loved by all,

in the boondocks and the capital,

it’s endless parties wall-to-wall—

the Soviet Union’s centennial year.

See flags entwine—tricolor with the red,

forgetting any arguments they’ve had,

like business partners forging straight ahead,

or like a rookie with his AK gun.

And to ensure their path is clear—

away from Facebook they are steered,

decisively, past doubt and fear,

by a strong hand, equaled by none.

And when I read that someone in high fettle

is ordering that all shout out, “To battle!”

and promising to give away berettas,

piling up horrors in an endless list,

then I remind myself, quite simply,

that I bailed out in nineteen-ninety,

after consuming all of that aplenty.

And then I think: yes, happiness exists.


Мелькает сивка, вьётся бурка,

горланит пьяная снегурка,

наган под юбку прячет мурка,

и алягер ком алягер:

в стране берёзового ситца,

и в захолустье и столице,

не умолкая праздник длится –

столетие СССР.

Вот серп и молот с триколором

сплелись, забыв былые споры,

как бизнесовые партнёры,

как новобранец и АК,

поскольку верною дорогой –

прочь от фэйсбука и тиктока –

ведёт решительно и строго,

ведёт могучая рука.

Когда читаю что такой-то

велит орать погромче “гойда!”

и хочет всем раздать по кольту,

и прочую такую жесть,

тогда я вспоминаю просто,

что отвалила в девяностом,

наевшись этакого досыта.

И думаю, что счастье есть.

About the Author:

1. Vita Shtivelman's photo
Vita Shtivelman
Toronto, Canada

Vita Shtivelman is a poet, essayist, and the founder and director of EtCetera—a club of the arts and sciences. She was born in Chernivtsi and grew up in Kazan; she emigrated to Israel in 1990 and moved to Canada in 1999. Vita is a member of the Union of Russian Writers in Israel. She received awards from different literary and cultural organizations, including the Canadian Ethnic Media Association.

About the Translator:

1. Maria Bloshteyn photo1
Maria Bloshteyn
Toronto, Canada

Maria Bloshteyn is a literary scholar, editor, translator, and essayist. She was born in Leningrad and she grew up and lives in Toronto. Maria studied Dostoevsky’s impact on American culture and is the author of The Creation of a Counter-culture Icon: Henry Miller’s Dostoevsky (2007). She is the translator of Alexander Galich’s Dress Rehearsal (2009) and Anton Chekhov’s The Prank (2015), as well as the editor and the main translator of Russia is Burning, a collection of Russоphone poems of World War II (Smokestack Books, 2020). Her poetry translations have appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, including The Penguin Book of Russian Poetry (Penguin Classics, 2015).

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Play Video
Poetry Reading in Honor of Brodsky’s 81st Birthday
Length: 1:35:40