Matter | A (somewhat) monthly journal of political poetry and commentary

Guest-edited by Larissa Shmailo and Philip Nikolaev, Issue 26 is dedicated to political poetry and prose in translation from Russian and written originally in English by writers with Russian affiliations.

In the spirit of 2019, at least two poets (Anna Halberstadt and Katia Kapovich) write about Stalin: “O motherland. O motherfuckerland,” sighs-screams Kapovich.

Olga Livshin and Polina Barskova (translated by Philip Nikolaev) are in conversation with Akhmatova.

Katherine E. Young translates Inna Kabysh:

O, Moscow, Tatar sack of gold:
obedient and cunning,
boyar’s beard, son-of-a-bitch,
matchmaker, drunk in the morning

More treasures here:

Sinead Morrissey’s Soviet Poems

September 2019 issue of AWP’s The Writer’s Chronicle includes Chapman Hood Frazier’s interview with poet Sinead Morrissey, a highly decorated poet hailing from Northern Ireland. Her collection Parallax (which won the T.S. Eliot Prize) includes a poem titled “Shostakovich” in a group of a few others that directly reference the Soviet Union.

In the interview, Morrissey explains that her parents were members of the Communist Party. “Growing up in a Communist household and having, as a consequence, a rosier view of the Soviet Union and the Communist project than neraly everyone else around me, gave me a particular world-view which came under strain as an adult, when I began to read Russian history and to understand some of the atrocities which had taken place. This is one of the most important instances of parallax in my own life, and one which Parallax as a body of work is also most exercised with. The Soviet poems are kinds of punctuation marks throughout the book, and all of them are different. In the end I think the subject itself is unknowable–what we see is always so determined by where we stand–and it is the fraught act of perception itself which interests me most of all.”

The interview is in the print issue of the magazine and is available online with subscription.

New Book Alert: Elena Fanailova’s The Russian Version (2nd Edition)

Author: Elena Fanailova

Translators: Genya Turovskaya and Stephanie Sandler

Publisher: Ugly Duckling Presse


Small Press Distribution announcement: ” Poetry. Translated from the Russian by Genya Turovskaya and Stephanie Sandler. THE RUSSIAN VERSION is a collection of poems that spans Russia’s post-Soviet era. Acclaimed journalist and poet, Elena Fanailova tells stories about the various social layers of a stratified and conflicted nation, reclaiming the poet’s role as social critic, while scrutinizing her own position as citizen and poet. Fanailova’s political lyricism casts personal pain into the net of historical suffering.”

Published in 2009 by Ugly Duckling Presse, it received Best Translated Book Award for Poetry from Three Percent. The 2019 second edition of THE RUSSIAN VERSION includes a more recent long poem, ‘Lena and Lena.’

The Cheburashka Collective: New poetry of the post-Soviet diaspora

The Cheburashka Collective is a group of women and non-binary writers whose identity has been shaped by immigration from the Soviet Union to the United States. On April 27, 2019, six members of the group, which is named for a beloved Soviet cartoon character, gathered in Philadelphia’s Penn Book Center for a poetry readingMeduza in English news editor Hilah Kohen sat down with five of those poets before the event. They discussed what shared immigrant experiences can do for collectives, what collectivity can do for poetry, and what poetry can do for our world today. The “Cheburashki” also shared seven of their recent poems, which are reprinted below this interview with the kind permission of their publishers.”