Virtual Happy Hour of writers with the former Soviet Union connection

This week AWP, or Association of Writers and Writing Programs, is holding its annual conference in San Antonio, TX. Many of the attendees, however, have opted to stay home due to the increased risk of the corona virus outbreak. An important component of this conference is a massive book fair, at which hundreds of independent presses and literary journals sell their stock. To compensate for the losses of this already financially strained community, people are organizing several initiatives.

First of all, there’s #AWPVirtualBookfair Twitter hashtag, under which you will find links to lots of publishers who are offering significant discounts of their stock. Trevor Ketner started the #AWPVirtualBookfair Google Doc, where you can find a comprehensive list of participating publishers, and Natalie Eilbert creating the AWP Virtual Bookfair for Authors Doc. Justin Greene created a handy list of publishers on Entropy, that includes the discount codes. Point being: the best way to support literary arts and independent publishing is to buy our books.

One of my plans for this conference was to co-host a happy hour for writers and translators working on material related to the former Soviet Union. Unfortunately, both my co-host Olga Livshin and I decided to cancel, as did most of the people we hoped would take part. I envisioned that this happy hour would help us, in part, to build a sense of community and help us brainstorm ways in which we can support each other’s work. So, in that spirit, here is an image gallery followed by a list of these titles with links, where you can buy the books.

Gala Mukomolova, Without Protection, from Coffee House Press

Irina Reyn, Mother Country, from St. Martin’s Publishing Group

Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach, Don’t Touch the Bones, from Lost Horse Press

Olga Livshin, A Life Replaced, from Poets & Traitors Press

Olga Zilberbourg, Like Water and Other Stories, from WTAW Press

Katherine E. Young, Day of the Border Guards, The University of Arkansas Press

Larissa Shmailo, Sly Bang, from Spuyten Duyvil

Marina Blitshteyn, Two Hunters, from Argos Press

Mariya Deykute, her website

Mary Jane White, Starry Sky to Starry Sky, from Holy Cow! press

Ruth Madievsky, Emergency Brake, from Tavern Press

Valzhyna Mort, Music for the Dead and Resurrected, from FSG

* If you don’t see a book that you wish to be included, please leave a comment!

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:

A review of Larissa Shmailo’s Sly Bang

Larissa Shmailo is a versatile poet and prose writer, editor and translator from Russian, with work in Brooklyn Rail, The Common, St. Petersburg Review, among other journals and anthologies.

Jefferson Hansen reviews her most recent novel for Rain Taxi: “This is a hilarious and horrifying novel. It depicts the worst humanity is capable of, but what keeps Sly Bang from becoming overwhelmed by the depravity it describes is the writerly energy of Shmailo. Wise cracks and madcap scenes burst one after another in a buoyant fashion—so it goes down easy in spite of the horrors it describes.”