Ugly Duckling Presse

The Gray Notebook (4th edition)
The Gray Notebook (4th edition)

Alexander Vvedensky

translated by Matvei Yankelevich

Poetry | $10 $8
Out of Print"UDP offers what is as close to a piece of this history as we can likely get. "
Now in its fourth printing (previously printed in 2002, 2003, 2009) the work presented here (in its entirety) has come to be called the “gray notebook”, simply because of its color. Vvedensky wrote in this notebook in 1932-1933, soon after returning to Leningrad from his exile in Kursk. Two loose sheets with short prose pieces were found inside the notebook and are included here as inserts.

About the Author

Alexander Vvedensky

Alexander Vvedensky (1904-1941) studied art and poetry under the Russian Futurists in Leningrad during the early nineteen-twenties, a liberal period of Soviet power. He banded together with Daniil Kharms and others to form various avant-garde groups dedicated to theater, poetry and general troublemaking, all of which culminated in the formation of the OBERIU (Union of Real Art) in 1928.

The OBERIU found itself increasingly attacked in the press and in late 1931, its key members were arrested on charges of being involved in an “anti-soviet group of children’s writers.” Vvedensky and Kharms spent several months in prison and were then exiled until the end of 1932. There would be no more OBERIU performances, and no hope of publication, except for sporadic poems and translations in magazines and books for children.

In the mid-thirties, Vvedensky left Leningrad for a quieter life in Kharkov. He died—or was killed—during the evacuation of the Ukraine in 1941. His poetry was not published in Russia until the period of glasnost. Much of Vvedensky’s work comes down to us from Kharms’s archives (a suitcase that, after Kharms’s arrest in 1941, was in the safe-keeping of their mutual friend, Iakov Druskin.) And, of course, some of his writings have been lost.

—from the Translator's Note (by Matvei Yankelevich)

About the Translator

Matvei Yankelevich
Matvei Yankelevich's books and chapbooks include Boris by the Sea (Octopus Books), The Present Work (Palm Press), and Writing in the Margin (Loudmouth Collective). His writing has appeared in Action Yes!, Boston Review, Damn the Caesars, Fence, Open City, Tantalum, Typo, Zen Monster, and other little magazines. His translations from Russian have cropped up in Calque, Circumference, Harpers, New American Writing, Poetry, and the New Yorker and in some anthologies, including OBERIU: An Anthology of Russian Absurdism (Northwestern) and Night Wraps the Sky: Writings by and about Mayakovsky (FSG). His translations of Daniil Kharms were collected in Today I Wrote Nothing: The Selected Writings of Daniil Kharms (Ardis/Overlook) and received praise from the TLS, the Guardian, the New York Times, and elsewhere. He edited a portfolio of Contemporary Russian Poetry and Poetics for the magazine Aufgabe (No. 8, Fall 2009) and has written essays on Russian-American poetry for Octopus magazine online. He teaches at Hunter College, Columbia University School of the Arts (Writing Division), and the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College. At Ugly Duckling Presse, he designs and/or edits many and various books, is the editor of the Eastern European Poets Series, and a co-editor of 6x6. He lives in Brooklyn.


Advance Praise

UDP offers what is as close to a piece of this history as we can likely get. —KARLA KELSEY, Constant Critic
These poems do what solid poems should. They stand against time. —PETER MOYSAENKO, bomblog