translated by Genya Turovskaya, Stephanie Sandler
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"a clear-eyed, unflinching poet" — Eleni Sikelianos
Winner of the 2010 Best Translated Book Award for Poetry from Three Percent. "The Russian Version obliterates the stereotype of what Great Russian Poetry should sound like. Fanailova has the candor and compassion of Akhmatova and a gift for striking metaphor that might bring Mandelstam to mind. She is also ruthlessly quick to fire 'from the hip,' as she says in the title poem, and her aim is impeccable." - IDRA NOVEY, Chair of the Best Translated Book Poetry PanelExcerpt ˇ
It’s terrible to be possessed by brittle things.
How can you learn here who taught people to draw
Stars between eyebrows, butterflies over the gristle
Of throats, weeping eye between breasts.
And anyway, who taught them to live with strange
Chasms, with their nocturnal beasts,
With this yawning, this singing, this delirium –unreachable
Even with open palms outstretched: take them
If you are not afraid of such embraces.
If the faces floating up from an amalgam
Of splotches, from the molding, black, silvery depths
Don’t frighten you.
- 12.30.10 | Genya Turovskaya's new chapbook, New Year's Day, now available from Octopus Books
- 11.30.10 | The Russian Version by Elena Fanailova is reviewed in Tarpaulin Sky Press
- 10.19.10 | The Russian Version by Elena Fanailova is reviewed in Russia Beyond the Headlines
- 09.08.10 | The Russian Version by Elena Fanailova is reviewed on the blog of Djelloul Marbrook
- 05.22.10 | The Russian Version by Elena Fanailova is reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement
- 03.10.10 | The Russian Version by Elena Fanailova wins Best Translated Poetry Book Award from 3 Percent
- 02.22.10 | Idra Novey, Director of Columbia's Center for Literary Translation, on The Russian Version
- 02.16.10 | Elena Fanailova's The Russian Version selected as a finalist for 2010 Best Translated Book Awards
- 07.09.08 | [In Russian] Dmitry Vodennikov reviews Elena Fanailova's The Russian Version
News and Reviews
She is doing something quite different: she assumes the role of the poet as broadcaster, who transforms suppressed and muted private worlds into a distressing signal, to disturb the smugness and cynicism of her contemporaries and compatriots—Russian intellectuals."—Zinovy Zinik, Times Literary Supplement
The Russian Version is, in essence, a selected poems, and even the most casual reader (but who would want to be a casual reader of these works?) will notice the progressive expansion of the force field within Fanailova's work as it accumulates cultural material over the years and repeatedly rethinks its purpose. Perhaps it has always been the case that, regardless of what else is expected of the Russian poet, he or she must demonstrate courage. Perhaps that is what makes these poems Russian—their capacity to countenance the unshrinkable world.—Lyn Hejinian
Spanning almost twenty years, these poems document the growth of a poetics and a politics sculpted by—and at times against—the recent history of Russia, its violence, its ambitions, its intimacies. But it is also the slower-moving current of Russian culture, from its folk tales to Tarkovsky, that gives these pieces their human depth. From her early atmospheric, lyric work to the later, looser quotidian pieces, there’s a wry eye in action here, informed by a ruthless truthfulness, but also by compassion and empathy, and all beautifully translated with a commitment to sound and rhythms that seem to bring the original to the surface.—Cole Swenson