Russian poet Osip Mandelstam’s “ancient language” is rendered into real contemporary poetry in English that succeeds in speaking eloquently to the inner eye and ear.
Translator Dan Veach invites us to “pull up a bench in the mead hall, grab a brew, and enjoy a jazzy new performance.”
Literate people in the state will be familiar with this story, but it may come as a revelation to those whose Mississippi is limited to a cultural Bermuda Triangle on whose sharp angles sit William Faulkner, John Grisham, and Oprah Winfrey.
It is always a pleasure to read the poems of a writer who has an ear for language and an eye for form, a voice of their own, and an interest in a world beyond the reach of their own person.
It is the loss of memories and the meaning of memory that dominate, generating speculations that draw the reader into and through Maria Stepanova’s argument and interpretations.
The Movement works best as a stripped-down, high-speed introduction to the struggle for civil rights, nothing more.
For a generation of Russians, Joseph Brodsky was the poet, almost a code-word in the discourse of the intelligentsia, like Nabokov.
In these poems, contemplation, serenity, and service are the order of the day.
The overall effect is one of a genial, superficial club lecture on reading and writing poetry, punctuated by Frost’s Greatest Hits.
Carolyn Michel’s Rose is the sociable stranger on the bus who tempts you to miss your stop so you can hear her out to the end.