Intensely emotional and honest, this collection of searing poems about love, loss, jealousy, and fear, explores the literary and social landscape of post revolutionary Russia. Sharply addressing the conflicts between the life of a poet and that of a mother and wife, this enlarged volume, masterfully translated, includes five major poem sequences, one of which was written in 1915 for the poet's lover Sofia Parnok and another in response to poet Rainer Maria Rilke's death. Invoking Stalinist Russia as an underlying theme, this compilation also covers politics and history.
"A poet of genius."--Vladimir Nabokov. Via what Ilya Kaminsky and Jean Valentine call "readings"-not translations-of fragments of Marina Tsvetaeva's poems and prose, Tsvetaeva's lyrical genius is made accessible and poignant to a new generation of readers. By juxtaposing fragments of her poems with short pieces of prose, we begin to know her as poet, friend, enemy, woman, lover, and revolutionary. From "Poems for Moscow (2)": 'From my hands-take this city not made by hands,my strange, my beautiful brother. ' 'Take it, church by church-all forty times forty churches,and flying up over them, the small pigeons;' 'And Spassky Gates-in their flower-where the Orthodox take off their hats;' 'And the Chapel of Stars-refuge chapel-where the floor is-polished by tears;' 'Take the circle of the five cathedrals,my soul, my holy friend. 'Marina Tsvetaeva was born in Moscow in 1892 and died in 1941. Her poetry stands among the greatest works of twentieth century Russian writers. Ilya Kaminsky is the author of 'Dancing in Odessa' (Tupelo Press, 2004) which won the Whiting Writers' Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters' Metcalf Award, the Dorset Prize, and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship awarded annually by 'Poetry 'magazine. Jean Valentine won the Yale Younger Poets award for 'Dream Barker' in 1965. Her eleventh book of poetry is 'Break the Glass', from Copper Canyon Press. 'Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems 1965-2003' was the winner of the 2004 National Book Award for Poetry.
Written during the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Moscow famine that followed, these poems are suffused with Tsvetaeva's irony and humor, which undoubtedly accounted for her success in not only reaching the end of the plague year alive, but making it the most productive of her career. We meet a drummer boy idolizing Napoleon, an irrepressibly mischievous grandmother who refuses to apologize to God on Judgment Day, and an androgynous (and luminous) Joan of Arc."Represented on a graph, Tsvetaeva's work would exhibit a curve - or rather, a straight line - rising at almost a right angle because of her constant effort to raise the pitch a note higher, an idea higher ... She always carried everything she has to say to its conceivable and expressible end. In both her poetry and her prose, nothing remains hanging or leaves a feeling of ambivalence. Tsvetaeva is the unique case in which the paramount spiritual experience of an epoch (for us, the sense of ambivalence, of contradictoriness in the nature of human existence) served not as the object of expression but as its means, by which it was transformed into the material of art." --Joseph BrodskyWhile your eyes follow me into the grave, write up the whole caboodle on my cross! 'Her days began with songs, ended in tears, but when she died, she split her sides with laugher!'--from Moscow in the Plague Year: Poems
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