Sight and Sound Entwined: Studies of the New Russian Poetry

Sight and Sound Entwined: Studies of the New Russian Poetry

Sight and Sound Entwined: Studies of the New Russian Poetry

Sight and Sound Entwined: Studies of the New Russian Poetry


Notwithstanding the economic hardship Russian people are experiencing, their cultural life is as rich and alive as ever, as Gerald Janecek shows us in this collection of his articles on contemporary Russian poetry, which are especially written for this publication or so far only available in Russian. These articles focus on works in which sonic-musical, resp. visual-typographical features are used to produce interesting new effects and range from a musical analysis of the way Joseph Brodsky recited his poems to quasi-musical principles of organization (as in the works by Mnatsakanova and Nikonova) to layout designs that reflect the way a poem is recited (as in the case of Khudyakov, Volohovsky, Brodsky, Nekrasov, and Aigi) and perceived. As the first serious scholarly examination of the poets presented, this volume offers an important introduction to Russian avant-garde poetry.

Gerald J. Janecek is Chairman of the Department of Russian and Eastern Studies at the University of Kentucky.


The origin of this book can be traced to a meeting I had in June 1980 with the poet Konstantin Kuzminsky, who at the time was living in Austin, Texas. Up until then, my research had been devoted first to the work of the Russian Symbolist Andrei Bely and then to Russian Futurism. in connection with Futurism, I had come upon Kuzminsky's article on the subject, and I took the opportunity, while in Houston, to visit him in Austin. We immediately found a common language, and our conversation over tea and an excellent soup prepared by his wife Emma continued until it was too late for me to drive back to Houston that night.

The evening had two consequences for the future. the first was that one of the things Kuzminsky said that evening has now become a personal motto: "Dead poets can wait; you should work on living poets." the Kuzminskys provided me with a place to rest and, should I have trouble sleeping, I might look at a special publication few were familiar with. Kuzminsky handed me the huge folio edition Apollon-77 (Paris, 1977) assembled and published by Mikhail Shemiakin, and he suggested that I pay particular attention to the poetry of Anri Volohonsky. the quantity of tea I had downed did indeed keep me awake in the hot, unairconditioned apartment, and I moved my mattress out onto the balcony and began reading Apollon. This was the second consequence, as a result of which my work took on a new direction. I discovered fascinating Russian poetry hitherto unknown to me or to more than a few others in the West.

The majority of articles in this collection can be traced back directly to Apollon-77, from which initially I selected poets in emi-

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