Political poetry in Russia: – present - Russia Beyond
In the poem, Putin and Medvedev come to a cornfield to play on current Russian-Ukrainian relations comes from a lyric poem rather than a. While Medvedev delves into the complexities of art's role in Putin's Russia from his but burning with the universal questions about every society's relationship. Hailed by one of his translators, Keith Gessen, as "Russia's first authentic post- Soviet writer", Medvedev begins this collection of his poems.
He is perhaps the only satirical poet whose works attract the attention of highbrow critics and literary scholars. Protest songs in Russia: Neither message has any relevance to his life: This is exactly the position of the majority of educated Russians — the class that could at least take an interest in poetry.
But yet pro-opposition readers also consider Yemelin one of their own. Russian writers and rulers: Bearing in mind that contemporary civil poetry is mostly postmodernist, both moods are categorically unsuitable for it. The Internet has opened up a far greater audience for poets than conventional old media — even the most widely read print newspapers cannot come close.
However, there is such an avalanche of information on the Web that even the most cutting poems can only garner modest attention. If we compare the situation to a hundred years ago, then the impact of individual poems and poets is certainly far lower than their Silver Age counterparts, whose words were less diluted. Perhaps there is also a case for suggesting that the Russian public is losing faith in the power of the poetic word.
Yet in response, popular protest poets have been able to diversify their means of influence. These days they have become public figures who are heeded for the opinions they express in interviews and talk shows as well as through their poetry. And any confrontation with them affects the author so much that it is, as far as one can tell, his most powerful creative stimulant and source of subject matter.
The girl begging for cookies in Minsk, the boy writing funny words in his diary on the metro. A tall boy was being pelted by the rain to get out of it he hopped on this bus. The little pimples on his sunburnt arms make the little hairs on them more noticeable.
I stand next to him in silence. And through the window I see him walking uncomfortably slowly. However, there is an important detail: Therefore, unquestionably, Kuzmin subconsciously associates promoting tolerance for gays with the taming of the Russian chaos.
But more on that later. In his poems there are almost no standard features of Russian verse: My first lover is sitting across from me in the metro. How many years have passed? In the opening of his T-shirt the hairs on his chest.
Song for Occupations
Sometimes Kuzmin misfires; he is too direct, or he is too demotic. At these points his very serious struggle becomes visible. What is the field of this struggle? On the one hand, it is the depiction of homosexuality as one of the many human possible overtones, one of many threads connecting people and events, and therefore something that can be isolated and regarded as a specifically cultural phenomenon. The author does everything to balance the past and the future, and finds himself as a result on a kind of lonely border.
I really like his poems. They seem harmless enough, but you can see a very serious struggle taking place inside them. Some people think Kuzmin is a kind of snob, someone who enjoys clever verbiage for its own sake and deliberately publishes texts that the average reader cannot understand. But overall, although he can be too smart for his own good, his emotions and his intellect complement each other.
He has a healthy disdain for philosophical or poetic abstraction, and has mostly avoided the baffling and often self-parodying sophistry of modern French philosophy. He holds these things at a distance because in the end he is an educator and colonizer, and needs to speak in a language comprehensible to people. Not in a simplified language, but in an accessible one.
Kuzmin has many critics. They are both individual critics and representatives of other institutions. Who are these people? Professionally, the editors are college professors one teaches Shakespearewith a sideline in literary criticism; ideologically, they are political liberals with a strongly conservative aesthetic bias. This poetry can be good or bad, entirely talentless or full of genius: All further developments, beginning with the Futurists in poetry, Duchamp in the visual arts, and so on, are incomprehensible to the editors.
All that interests them is their sort of poetry, whether from the Soviet era or today. Sometimes the influence of this type of people is so great, alas, that the voice of truth is drowned out. In our time, Dmitry Kuzmin is such a type. Not an altogether untalented person, by the way; he could write literary criticism and pretty normal poetry, if he wanted to. We should give the Arion editors their due—they sense the threat embodied by Kuzmin.
In fact they consider it their task continuously to expose him and his project, devoting an article to Vavilon in almost every issue. But in the end, for all their relentless polemicizing, the editors are also profoundly complacent, convinced that time is on their side: There are no Acmeists anymore, there are no Futurists.
Kirill Medvedev's poetic utopianism
The ignorance of the Arion editors, it should be said, is closely related to a total lack of understanding of the structure of modern society. Arion has managed to inherit the worst characteristics of the old Soviet bureaucracy—its reluctance to modernize on the one hand, and its desire to completely dominate the cultural field on the other.
As a result, Arion has failed in recent years to find or adopt a single original position, and in the near future it will likely degrade into total worthlessness. Your average web poet is very conservative. He omits practically the entire Bronze era except maybe Brodskywhile the later movements—conceptualism and the like—provoke outright malice. The situation resembles Arion a bit, though the cheerful amateur graphomania at, say, www.
The one well-known writer who concentrates within his person all the ideas of the web poets, and who, as a result, apparently has the greatest authority among them, is Dmitry Bykov. A traditionalist, historian of both Russian literature and Soviet culture author of biographies of Maxim Gorky and Pasternak and Okudzhavatireless polemicist sometimes for Putin and the state, other times againsthumorist, and film reviewer, Bykov as a poet is fleet of foot, playful, and utterly, unabashedly sentimental.
He may be the only contemporary poet who is willing to sound just like Brodsky, which at this point is a form of pastiche: I remember a large movie theater Where they brought us together, All pale and tired. Bykov is a poet who as it were validates the entire web poetry project with his existence, and gives it hope: Bykov really is a striking figure, but it is precisely his uniqueness that proves this to be a dead end.
What was good for him Soviet prose and verse may well be poison for others. Since web poetry is a kind of concentrated portrait of the Russian unconscious, a collection of its most painful neuroses, it sometimes manifests itself as an inert, conservative, and very aggressive mass.
Naturally, the characteristic philistine hatred toward Kuzmin finds full expression here. Kuzmin is accused of just about everything, including being a Jew, a fag, and also selling out for Western grants. It should be said that there exists an idea in Russia that our young poets write free verse exclusively so they can be studied by Western Slavists and invited by them to Western institutions. Meanwhile, as far as I know, Kuzmin has received exactly one grant in his entire life—for writing a pamphlet about gay life in Russia.
Really, the irony is that NO ONE can boast of having created a project of this scope in addition to everything else, Kuzmin has by this point probably overseen the publication of several hundred books totally independently, with his own money, or, more accurately, that of his lover, who earned it as a computer programmer and web administrator—for which many people, including myself, are profoundly grateful to him.
This is the poetry series OGI, which has existed for a few years now and which was supported by, among others, Mikhail Aizenberg and Nikolai Okhotin. These are very erudite people with a strong intuitive feel for poetry. The books chosen for OGI prove their intelligence and showcase their ideas about what mainstream contemporary poetry ought to be. Whereas Kuzmin is doing something different; he is, in a sense, not expressing his personal preferences at all in his project, or only enough so that the project can exist: With the exception of out-and-out mass culture, every rival system is already to some extent included in the Kuzmin paradigm.
Kuzmin offers a wholehearted project that combines aesthetic, ideological, political, and ethical principles. He and I quarreled once over one of my poems. We settled on a compromise: But in this case, although I argued with him, I completely understood and even approved of Kuzmin, especially against the background of the complete ideological bankruptcy I saw all around me.
Principles are a powerful instrument in a world that is slowly transforming people into spineless rats. But the presence of principles creates serious problems for the person who has them. Not the other way around. I happen to have a lot of experience in this respect, particularly in the realm of throwing drunk jerks out of public spaces, be it from a subway car or a literary reading—because, unfortunately, there is no alternative.
What do you propose? And, yes, probably even such a jury could be handled: But I am not a politician, and I am not obliged to judge from a political point of view. Ethics and axiology concern me.
This is Kuzmin inarguing with the writer Oleg Dark about the invasion of Iraq.
Kirill Medvedev's poetic utopianism | Dazed
On the one hand, what we have here is the declaration of an anarchist. On the other, Kuzmin has always had an enormous will to power—power here in the sense of supplying order on many different levels, from the most abstract to the most everyday.
There are stories about him going from room to room in the Moscow State University dormitory throwing drunk people out. I witnessed an incident of this kind just once. It involved the fairly well-known poet Eremenko. On the evening in question he arrived at a festival of youth poetry in the capacity of a drunk jerk. Eremenko was taken out. Afterward a few of the readers refused to go onstage in protest.
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The first time, Eremenko was his opponent, and the jury said: Did that old slight play a role here? And in my opinion, there is a fundamental, I mean a truly archetypal difference, between doing it yourself, and calling for the guards. At what point did i begin to lose interest—not so much in Kuzmin personally as in Vavilon as a whole, and the literary world in general? I had sensed differences between myself and the majority of Vavilonians from the start, but I never took them seriously.
The turning point probably came with the Iraq war. And in his correspondence with Oleg Dark fromhe was perfectly explicit. That was one of my reasons for splitting with Kuzmin. Of course, political views should not become the reason for splitting with someone.
It is precisely political views that should be the reason, because politics is not football; your affiliation is not something you wear on Saturdays and then put away the rest of the week. The social order known as postmodernism or late capitalism, which came into full flower in Russia at about the same time as it did other places, in the s, was geared in many ways toward the prevention of such conflict and thus the conservation of a certain status quo.
What was this status quo?