POETRY OF THE MOSCOW LIANOZOVO GROUP: VSEVOLOD NEKRASOV & IGOR' KHOLIN (with Ugly Duckling Presse). Sept. 5, 6-8 pm, Faculty Lounge, 8th Floor, HW. A reading and book talk by translators, AINSLEY MORSE and BELA SHAYEVICH, who will speak about their collaboration on two poets of the Moscow Lianozovo Group (1950-1970s), its nonconformist avant-garde aesthetics, and the challenges of rendering their writings in English. They will read from I Live I See: Selected Poems by Vsevolod Nekrasov (2013) and Kholin 66: Diaries and Poems (2017), both published by Ugly Duckling Presse.
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. His poetry, which is often characterized as minimalist, uses repetition and paronomasia 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. I Live I Seepresents a comprehensive survey of his work. Exploring urban, rural, and 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. It is the first collection of Nekrasov's work in English translation, with a preface by Mikhail Sukhotin and an afterword by Gerald Janecek.
IGOR KHOLIN (1920-1999) was born in Moscow, ran away from an orphanage in Ryazan, and eventually enrolled in a military academy in Novorossiysk. In 1946, Kholin landed in a labor camp in Lianozovo, a suburb of Moscow, where one of his friends was the guard and would occasionally let him out to visit the Lianozovo library. When he asked to check out a book by forbidden poet Alexander Blok, he aroused the interest of the librarian, Olga Potapova, an artist married to the poet and painter Evgeny Kropivnitsky. The two of them hosted a Sunday salon out of their nearby barracks apartment, encouraging the work of young artists and a few poets, including Genrikh Sapgir and Vsevolod Nekrasov. Along with Kholin, they called themselves Kropivnitsky’s students and formed a loose poetry collective known as the Lianozovo Group. Kholin’s early work took the rough edges of Soviet life as his primary subject matter, while lampooning formulaic Socialist Realist poetics. Later years saw cycles of outer-space poems and a series of poetic self-portraits; but all of it equally unpublishable until the fall of the Soviet Union. Kholin 66 is the first book of Kholin’s work in English translation. In a string of acerbically related non-adventures excerpted from his 1966 diary, Kholin moves to the country, sleeps a lot, drinks and debauches among Moscow’s literary underground, and eventually moves back to the city. Broke and bitter, he details his bemusement in terse, absurdist prose.
ABOUT THE TRANSLATORS
AINSLEY MORSE has been translating 20th- and 21st-century Russian and (former-) Yugoslav literature since 2006. She holds a PhD in Slavic literatures from Harvard University. Her previous publications include Andrei Sen-Senkov's Anatomical Theater (with Peter Golub; Zephyr Press, 2013); she has also worked on the farcical Soviet pastoral Beyond Tula by Andrey Egunov, and the forthcoming collection of theoretical essays by Yuri Tynianov. BELA SHAYEVICH is a writer, translator, and illustrator. Her translations have appeared in It’s No Good by Kirill Medvedev (UDP/n+1, 2016) and various periodicals including Little Star and The New Yorker.
TOMAS VENCLOVA. POETRY READING AND Q&A (in LITHUANIAN and RUSSIAN with ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS). Co-hosted by the Consulate General of Lithuania in New York. Oct. 5, 5:30-7:30 pm, B126, HW. The event celebrates the 80th anniversary of Tomas Venclova, Lithuanian poet and scholar, former Soviet dissident and founding member of the Lithuanian Helsinki Group, professor emeritus of Russian Literature at Yale University. He will read his old and new works in his native Lithuanian with Russian translations by Anna Gerasimova (English translations by multiple authors will be read by a Hunter student Sasha White) and speak about the past and present of Lithuania, its literature, culture and politics.
NARINE ABGARYAN. A READING AND BOOK TALK (in RUSSIAN with ENGLISH TRANSLATION). Oct. 12, 6-7:30 pm, B126, HW. Born in Armenia, Narine Abgaryan studied Russian language and literature in Erevan and writes about her native country and Moscow, where she has lived since 1993. She has received numerous literary prizes and is the author of ten books, including the bestselling and prize-winning trilogy about Manyunya, a busy and troublesome 11-year-old girl in a small Armenian town Berd. She will read from her new collection of short stories set in rural Armenia, which are being translated for publication in English.
ALEXEI TSVETKOV. POETRY READING AND CONVERSATION ON LITERATURE AND POLITICS. Oct. 17, 5:30-7:30 pm, B126, HW. A Russian poet, essayist, critic and translator, Tsvetkov was born in Ukraine, then lived and studied in Moscow, where in the early 1970s he became a founding member of the "Moscow Time" poetic group (with Sergei Gandlevsky, Bakhyt Kenzheev and Aleksandr Soprovsky). In 1975, he immigrated to the U.S., wrote a Ph.D. dissertation on Andrei Platonov at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he also worked for Ardis, an American publishing house that specialized in Russian literature unpublishable in the Soviet Union. Tsvetkov taught at Dickinson College and worked as a long-time broadcaster for Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Munich and then in Prague. He is the author of more than a dozen books of poetry and prose and a recipient of numerous literary prizes, including the Andrei Bely Prize in 2007.
SEVENTH RUSSIAN-ISRAELI DIASPORA FILM FESTIVAL (with Russian-American Cultural Center). Oct. 22, 1-8 pm. Ida K. Lang Recital Hall. This year's festival features the U.S. premier of The Holocaust. The Eastern Front by Boris Maftsir (Israel, 2016), world premier of Participate and Win (USA, 2017) by Semyon Pinkhasov, as well as Appolonia by Ofir Trainin (Israel, 2014) and Igor' and the Cranes' Journey (Israel, 2012) by Evgeny Ruman. Please see the full festival program here.
VARLAM SHALAMOV. SEVERAL OF MY LIVES (1990; in Russian with English subtitles) BY ALEXANDRA SVIRIDOVA AND ANDREI ERASTOV. Q&A. Oct. 24, 5:30-7:30 pm, B126, HW. Combining archival footage with quotes from Shalamov's prose and poetry, the documentary follows the life and works of the author of Kolyma Tales, the most powerful and merciless voice of the Gulag. The filmmaker Alexandra Sviridova will speak about the history of her film and its reception during the last years of the Soviet power, when it was still banned despite all the changes taking place in the country. Born in Kherson, Ukraine, Sviridova worked at the Odessa Film Studio before moving to Moscow in 1972 and graduating from the Moscow Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) in 1976. In 1986, she authored the script for One Doll's Story (dir. Boris Ablymin), a film about the doll of Don Quixote made by an inmate in Auschwitz. In 1992-1993, she co-founded, with Artem Borovik, the popular TV show "Top Secret," in which she explored, among other things, the Soviet recent past, including the human rights movement. In 1993, she left Russia and settled in the U.S.. For several years Sviridova worked for Steven Spielberg's Survivors of the SHOAH Visual History Foundation and personally recorded nearly 200 video interviews with Holocaust survivors. She lives in New York and is an award-winning prose writer.
THEY CHOSE FREEDOM and NEMTSOV, TWO DOCUMENTARIES BY VLADIMIR KARA-MURZA Jr., FOLLOWED BY Q&A. Oct. 26, 4:15-7:45 pm, B126, HW (with Institute of Modern Russia). The first film, They Chose Freedom (2005; in 4 parts) tells the story of the Soviet dissident movement from its "awakening" in the late 1950s to Perestroika and the 1990s to the first years of Putin's presidency, when human rights yet again came under attack in a country ruled by a former KGB officer. It features a constellation of Russian dissidents (Elena Bonner, Vladimir Bukovsky, Vladimir Dremliuga, Aleksandr Esenin-Vol'pin, Viktor Fainberg, Natalia Gorbanevskaya, Naum Korzhavin, Eduard Kuznetsov, Sergei Kovalev, Pavel Litvinov, Yuri Orlov, Aleksandr Podrabinek, Anatoly Sharansky), who speak about pivotal events of Soviet and post-Soviet history, including public poetry readings on Mayakovsky Square in Moscow, the birth and life of samizdat, the Glasnost Meeting of 1965 and the show trial of Sinyavsky and Daniel, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and the 1968 Red Square Demonstration, forced psychiatric "treatment" and hard-labor camps for political prisoners, the fall of the Soviet empire and the failure of democracy in twenty-first-century Russia. The second film, Nemtsov (2016, 66 min.) is a portrait of the liberal politician, leader of the Russian democratic opposition, who was assassinated in Moscow on February 27, 2015. It dwells, in particular, on Russia's first free elections, the city of Nizhny Novgorod as the "capital" of liberal reforms, the movement against the war in Chechnya, the rise of the "oligarchs," the burial of the last Russian Czar Nicolas II, political street protests in Putin's Russia, etc. Combining archival footage and on-camera interviews, Nemtsov is about the life of a man who could have become president of Russia.
VLADIMIR KARA-MURZA Jr. is a journalist, filmmaker, writer and historian. Currently the head of the Boris Nemtsov Foundation for Freedom and a vice chairman of Open Russia, he was a longtime colleague and advisor to Boris Nemtsov and a candidate for the Russian State Duma. He has appeared before European and North-American parliaments and published in the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and other periodicals. He holds an M.A. in History from Cambridge, is the author of Reform or Revolution (Moscow, 2011) and a contributor to numerous influential publications, including Russian Liberalism: Ideas and People (Moscow 2007) and Why Europe Needs a Magnitsky Law (London 2013).
YELENA MINYONOK. "WHO WAS MY GRANDMOTHER? HOW COLLECTIVE MEMORY WORKS IN FOLKLORE." Nov. 2, 5:30-7:30 pm, B126, HW. YELENA MINYONOK is a Senior research scholar and head of the Folklore Archives at the Institute of World Literature, Russian Academy of Sciences. An author of several books and multiple publications on folklore and calendar rituals, she has spoken on folklore and ethnography at more than 90 conferences in Russia, Europe, and the U.S., and lectured at the leading American universities, including Harvard, University of Colorado at Boulder, University of South California, Pomona College, and University of Lexington (Kentucky). As a leader of the American Friends of Russian Folklore (USA, California) she has led folkloric expeditions to Russian villages, sponsored, among others, by the Institute of World Literature (Russian Academy of Sciences), the Earthwatch Institute (USA), and, most recently, by the US/Russia Peer-to-Peer Dialog Program. She is a recipient of numerous grants and awards, including those from the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Earthwatch Institute, Russian Humanitarian Scientific Foundation (RGNF), and Fulbright.
BARBARA HARSHAV. "TRANSLATION: TEXT, SUBTEXT, CONTEXT." A LECTURE AND TRANSLATION READING (with the Division of Hebrew and Hebraic Studies). Nov. 7, 5:30-7:30 pm, B126, HW. The acclaimed translator of the Yiddish and Hebrew classics, Barbara Harshav will talk about the joy and challenges of literary translation and read from her English versions of Hanoch Levin's The Labor of Life, S.Y. Agnon's Only Yesterday, and American Yiddish Poetry - a monumental anthology she coauthored with her late husband Benjamin Harshav (Hrushovski). Barbara Harshav has been translating works from French, German, Hebrew and Yiddish for several decades and has published over fifty books of translation including works of poetry, drama, fiction, philosophy, and history. She has also taught a seminar/workshop on translation in the Comparative Literature Department of Yale University.
TADEUSZ DABROWSKI. POSTS. A POETRY READING (in POLISH, with ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS). Nov. 14, 5:30-7:30 pm, B126, HW. Dabrowski (b. 1979) is a Polish poet, essayist and critic, editor of the literary bimonthly Topos, and art director of the European Poet of Freedom Festival. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Boston Review, Ploughshares, Agni, American Poetry Review, Tin House, Harvard Review, Little Star, Crazyhorse, Poetry Daily, Guernica and others. Author of seven books of poetry in his native Polish, he has been translated into 20 languages. He is the recipient of a number of prestigious prizes and fellowships, including those from Yaddo (2015), Omi International Arts Center (2013), and Vermont Studio Center (2011). Two of his books of poetry have appeared in the US: Black Square (2011) and Posts (2017), both published by Zephyr Press. He lives in Gdańsk on the Baltic Coast of Poland.
"Tadeusz Dąbrowski is in poetry what the French call le grand reporter. He has the temperament of a realist but his realism is of a poetic nature, it leads to a revelation, not to accusation. His poems achieve an astonishing degree of density which is an adequate response to the absurdity of our world. A remarkable collection of poems!" (Adam Zagajewski)
IRINA PROKHOROVA. A TALK ON BOOK PUBLISHING, FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND THE HUMANITIES IN RUSSIA FROM 1990s TO THE PRESENT. Nov. 16, 5:30-7:30 pm, Elizabeth Hemmerdinger Screening Center, Room 706 (Library), Hunter East Building. Irina Prokhorova is editor-in-chief of The New Literary Observer publishing house in Moscow, which has provided a vital platform for scholarly, intellectual and artistic discourse in Russia since its inception in 1992, She and her publishing house are indispensable not only in Russia but also across Slavic Studies in the U.S. and worldwide. Ms. Prokhorova is a frequent guest at American and European universities and a contributor to international academic conferences, including the annual ASEEES (Association of Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies).
IRINA PROKHOROVA graduated from the Philology Department of Moscow State University and wrote a dissertation on modernist English literature. In 2004, she cofounded the Mikhail Prokhorov Foundation, a charity organization that supports cultural initiatives in the Russian regions and other ways of promoting Russian culture worldwide, for example, via the Transcript Translation Project, which supports translations of Russian literature into world languages. Since 2012, Prokhorova has hosted the program System of Values on RBC TV, and from 2013 to mid-2014 was the head of the Federal Civil Committee of the political party Civic Platform (her decision to stand down was motivated by the split in the party over the annexation of Crimea). As a media figure, publisher and intellectual, she has consistently supported numerous artists, scholars and journalists in their fight for civic values in Putin's Russia. She is the recipient of numerous Russian and international prizes and awards, including the Liberty Prize for contributions to the development of Russian-U.S. cultural relations, the Andrei Bely Prize for services to Russian literature, Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters of France, to name but a few.
ELIZABETH K. BEAUJOUR. "PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN GLASS HOUSES: TRANSPARENCY IN EARLY SOVIET ARCHITECTURE." Nov. 30, 5:30-7:30 pm, B126, HW. The building of a “Crystal Palace” at Hyde Park in 1851 (and its more durable incarnation at Sydenham in 1854) excited Russian writers of utopian bent. For example, Chernyshevsky ecstatically contemplated the possibility of a commune in a glass building in the midst of fields to house agricultural workers, but Dostoevsky’s Underground Man quite presciently observed that the problem with glass buildings is that someone is sure to yield to the temptation to throw stones. Transparency in architecture may be all very well and good in utopias, but even there, as Zamiatin presciently showed, the irrational will probably erupt. Still, in the 1920s and even in the early 1930s, many Soviet architects were entranced with the idea of lightness, transparency, and mobility in buildings: as Olesha’s dreamer put it, with the idea of “the architecture of the flight of birds.” This informal talk will consider some proposed, and a few actually constructed, early Soviet progeny of the Crystal Palace and the subsequent return to earth of Soviet Architecture.
PERM 36: REFLEXION (RUSSIA, 2016), A DOCUMENTARY BY SERGEI KACHKIN (followed by Q&A via SKYPE). Dec. 7, 5:30-7:30 pm, Elizabeth Hemmerdinger Screening Center, Room 706 (Library), Hunter East Building. Three former political prisoners - Mikhail Meylakh, Sergei Kovalev and Viktor Pestov - tell the story of their imprisonment in the “Perm-36” hard-labor camp. Years later they return to the camp (now a museum) to participate in the “Pilorama” Forum, a campsite reflecting, mirror-like, Russian society haunted by phantom pains after the fall of the Soviet Union. Red-brown activists rail against the existence of the museum and the forum. As they start gaining attention in the society and the government, dark clouds gather over the museum.
PERM-36 opened as a museum in 1996 thanks to the initiative of the local historians Viktor Shmyrov and Tatiana Kursina. It is the first and only museum of political repressions in Russia on the site of an actual camp for political prisoners in the village of Kuchino of Chusovoi Region, 60 miles northeast of the city of Perm. Founded in 1943 as one of the forced-labor camps of the Gulag, in 1953 it was converted into a camp for former employees of Soviet repressive organs, whose crimes were exposed as part of Khrushchev's de-Stalinization campaign; in 1972, however, PERM-36 became a hard-labor camp for political prisoners - a less famous, but perhaps even a harsher counterpart of the infamous Mordovia. Until it officially closed its gates during Perestroika, PERM-36 "housed" many Soviet dissidents and human rights activists, as well as writers and intellectuals, including the Ukrainian poet Vasyl Stus, member of the Lithuanian Helsinki Group Viktoras Petkus, Vladimir Bukovsky, Natan Sharansky, to name but a few. In 2015, the museum was declared a "foreign agent" by the local authorities of Putin's government, its archives confiscated, most of the staff fired, and the exhibition transformed into a more "loyal" one.
SERGEI KACHKIN is an award-winning filmmaker and producer who was born and grew up in Perm. In 2009, he graduated from Marina Razbezhkina’s Film School in Moscow, and in 2011 completed his first full-length documentary On the Way Home, which was presented at international festivals and bought by Russian and international TV channels. Since 2015, Sergei has co-organized the International Documentary Film Festival "DOKer." He lives in Moscow.