Poetry Depot

February 28, 2011

Polina Barskova: contemporary Russian poet

Filed under: Russian — razvan @ 3:37 am

Polina Barskova, Ph. D. was born in 1976 in Leningrad. She graduated at Berkeley, University of California. Barskova has published several collections of poetry, her first at the age of fifteen: Christmas (1991). Another four collections of poetry followed, A Squeamish Race (1993), Memory (1996), Evradei and Orfika and Arias. Candidate in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures (Berkeley), she was awarded the Townsend Dissertation Writing Fellowship for 2005.06. The topic of her dissertation is Writing the End: Literature and Culture of the Aesthetic Opposition in Leningrad (1921.1934).

As a child she was recognized as a prodigy. She began publishing poems in journals at age nine and, sought out by a publishing house, released the first of her six books at the ripe old age of 15.

She came to the United States at 20, in order to pursue graduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley, after having already completed a degree in classical literature at St. Petersburg State University.

Three years ago Dr. Barskova joined the faculty of Hampshire College as assistant professor of Russian literature. Her classes are packed and teaching reviews by students achieve similar soaring acclaim as critics’ reviews of her writing. Under her influence students have formed the Hampshire Poetry Group, meeting monthly to read to each other. (from hampshire college)


Manuscript Found by Natasha Rostova During the Fire
I will try to live on earth without you.
I will try to live on earth without you.
I will become any object,
I don’t care what—
I will be this speeding train.
This smoke
or a beautiful gay man laughing in the front seat.
A human body is defenseless
on earth.
It’s a piece of fire-wood.
Ocean water hits it.
Lenin puts it on his official shoulder.
And therefore, in order not to suffer, a human spirit
inside the wind and inside the wood and inside the shoulder of a great dictator.
But I will not be water. I will not be a fire.
I will be an eyelash.
A sponge washing your neck-hairs.
Or a verb, an adjective, I will become. Such a word
slightly lights your cheek.
What happened? Nothing.
Something visited? Nothing.
What was there you cannot whisper.
No smoke without fire, they whisper.
I will be a handful of smoke
over this lost city of Moscow.
I will console any man,
I will sleep with any man,
under the army’s traveling horse carriages.

Published by Guernica in a translation by Ilya Kaminsky

An entire book of her poems translated can be read here.


1 Comment »

  1. one of the few best poetry i know,very bold in expression and thought.
    I will sleep with any man,
    under the army’s traveling horse carriages.

    Comment by himanshupatel555 — December 4, 2011 @ 5:10 am

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