Translator: Ainsley Morse
Translator: Bela Shayevich
Introduction: Mikhail Sukhotin
Afterword: Gerald Janecek
Poetry | $20 ($16 direct from UDP)
Smyth-sewn. 576 pp, 4.75 x 6.5 in.
Publication Date: 2013
Eastern European Poets Series #31
I Live I See presents a comprehensive survey of the work of Vsevolod Nekrasov (1934-1999), the Soviet literary underground’s foremost minimalist. Exploring urban, rural, and purely linguistic environs with an economy of lyrical means and a dark sense of humor, Nekrasov’s groundbreaking early poems rupture the stultified language of Soviet cliché while his later work tackles the excesses of the new Russian order. I Live I See is a testament to Nekrasov’s lifelong conviction that art can not only withstand, but undermine oppression.
I Live I See: Selected Poems is the first collection of Nekrasov's work in English translation.
Preface by Mikhail Sukhotin. Afterword by Gerald Janecek. Translator's note by Bela Shayevich and Ainsley Morse.
[ praise ]
"Nekrasov's artistic method is a sort of critique of poetic reason, only the result of the critique is poetry; the dissected, devalued verse line is reborn — into lyric." — Vladislav Kulakov
[ excerpt ]
but in the meanwhile it’s life
well you know how it goes
however it seems
it goes on
it goes back and forth
sometimes it's like
what kind of life is this
this is just vile
The translation and the publication of this book were supported by a Transcript grant from the Mikhail Prokhorov Foundation. This book was made possible in part by funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency.
Vsevolod Nekrasov (1934-2009), a lifelong resident of Moscow, became active in the literary and artistic underground in the late 1950s. Through the fall of the Soviet Union, his work only appeared in samizdat and European publications. At the beginning of his career, Nekrasov was associated with the experimental writers and artists of the Lianozovo group, and went on to become one of the founding members of Moscow Conceptualism.
Nekrasov's poetry, which is often characterized as minimalist, uses repetition and paranomasia to deconstruct and recontextualize his linguistic environment—he targets everything from stock Soviet political mottos to clichés people mutter to one another in everyday situations. For example, by juxtaposing phrases the average Soviet citizen would have taken for granted with arbitrary-seeming homophones, Nekrasov calls official Soviet language to task for the numbness and thoughtlessness it promotes. When not overtly political, his poems examine this same tension between ‘outward speech’ and ‘inward speech,’ that is, between the language we use when talking to others and talking to ourselves.
Ainsley Morse has been translating 20th- and 21st-century Russian and (former-) Yugoslav literature since 2006. A longtime student of both literatures, she is currently pursuing a PhD in Slavic literatures at Harvard University. Recent publications include Andrei Sen-Senkov's Anatomical Theater (translated with Peter Golub, Zephyr Press, 2013), as well as her co-translation of Vsevolod Nekrasov (UDP, 2013). Ongoing translation projects include prose works by Georgii Ball and Viktor Ivaniv and polemical essays by the great Yugoslav writer Miroslav Krleža.
is a writer, translator, and illustrator living in Chicago. She is the co-translator of I Live I See by Vsevolod Nekrasov (UDP, 2013). It's No Good by Kirill Medvedev (UDP/n+1, 2012) and various periodicals including Little Star, St. Petersburg Review, and Calque. She was the editor of n+1 magazine's translations of the Pussy Riot closing statements.
Mikhail Sukhotin is a poet and literary critic. His books of poetry include Velikany [Giants] (1995) and Tsentony i marginalii [Pastiches and marginalia] (2001). His research on Nekrasov was indispensable to the UDP edition, I Live I See, which includes his preface. More poems and scholarly work, including a number of articles on specific aspects of Vsevolod Nekrasov's poetics, can be found on his webpage. He lives in Moscow.
Gerald Janecek is Professor of Russian Emeritus at the University of Kentucky, and the author of The Look of Russian Literature, among other scholarly titles. He has written several articles on Vsevolod Nekrasov and was the first to translate some of the poet's minimal and visual works into English. A chapter of his forthcoming book on Moscow Conceptualism will be devoted to Nekrasov. His reminiscences of his acquaintance with the poet are provided in the afterword to the UDP edition of Nekrasov's selected poems, I Live I See.