Russian Postmodernism: New Perspectives on Post-Soviet Culture

By Mikhail Epstein; Alexander Genis et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 9
A CATALOGUE OF NEW POETRIES

Mikhail Epstein

While contemporary Russian prose ( Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Anatoly Rybakov, Georgy Vladimov) is mostly trying to settle accounts with history, the new Russian poetry is paving the way for a new aesthetics. Poetry is thus an experimental model of the future Russian democracy--opening up possibilities of speaking in different languages, not mutually intelligible perhaps, but nevertheless allowed to be spoken without interruption. Thus out of the ruins of social utopia, a utopia of language is being born. It is the Tower of Babel of the Word, in which multiple cultural codes mingle with diverse professional jargons, including that of Soviet ideology. The ideal of mystical communism is at last being realized in the sphere of speech practices, as an expropriation of semiotic systems of all epochs and styles, and as a dismantling of their hierarchies of value. Supra-personal levels of consciousness are thus assuming priority, while lyricism is devalued as a remnant of ego-ideology and anthropocentrism.

Never before has Russia produced such a multitude of similar poets and such a quantity of varied poetries.1

This once normative concept, like that of culture itself, can now be used legitimately in the plural. In this new form, the noun "poetries" indicates the heterogeneity of the contemporary poetic

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