Russian Voices Symposium and Philosophical Cabaret (11/20/13)
Join us on Wednesday, November 20, for Russian Voices: Readings and Conversations with contemporary Russian poets Polina Barskova, Anna Glazova, and Maria Stepanova. This event celebrates the release by Zephyr Press of Relocations, a new anthology of Russian poetry, and brings together the three poets whose works are collected in the book and two of their English language translators: Catherine Ciepiela and Sibelan Forrester. Also participating are local poet Katia Kapovich; BU faculty members Olga Livshin, Yuri Corrigan, and Katherine O’Connor; and Jim Kates from Zephyr Press.
The symposium features individual panel discussions with each of the poets and a concluding roundtable, to be moderated by Katia Kapovich (see schedule below). The poetry sessions will be followed by a “philosophical cabaret” performance featuring Russian Jewish singer and songwriter Psoy Korolenko and musical collaborator Alyona Alyonkova, a reception, and a book-signing. The performance, entitled “Russian Riches,” contains compositions based on texts by Russian poets of the 20th century. The project, as Psoy Korolenko describes it, attempts to realize the cultural and spiritual connection between generations:
We consider this repertoire to be a certain kind of “edutainment” project, and see those involved in Slavic and Russian studies abroad as an important target audience. In 2007, ”The Cardboard House’’ based on Mikhail Kuzmin’s poem became a certain kind of a musical logo for Kuzmin’s readings at UCLA. And now that our new CD is released the same year with the Relocations book, we feel honored and lucky to be with Russian Voices at BU.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Boston University Photonics Center, 8 St. Mary’s Street, 9th floor
11:30 – 11:45 AM Welcome Katherine O’Connor (Boston University) and Jim Kates (Zephyr Press)
11:45 AM – 1 PM Panel I Polina Barskova and Catherine Ciepiela
1 – 2 PM Lunch
2 PM – 3:15 PM Panel II Anna Glazova and Olga Livshin
3:15 – 3:30 PM Break
3:30 – 4:45 PM Panel III Maria Stepanova and Sibelan Forrester
4:45 – 5 PM Break
5 – 7 PM Roundtable: Polina Barskova, Catherine Ciepiela, Anna Glazova, Olga Livshin, Maria Stepanova, Sibelan Forrester, and Yuri Corrigan. Moderated by Katia Kapovich
7 – 9 PM Reception, book-signing and “Russian Riches performance with Psoy Kolorenko and Alyona Alyonkova
All events are free and open to the public. Join us for all or part of the celebration!
Sponsored by the Center for the Study of Europe and the Department of Modern Languages and Comparative Literature, the literary journal AGNI and Zephyr Press. With support from the Center for the Humanities at Boston University and the Jewish Cultural Endowment.
Polina Barskova, who was born and raised in St. Petersburg, emigrated to the United States in 1998 after graduating from St. Petersburg University with a degree in Classics; she went on to receive a Slavic PhD from UC Berkeley and now teaches at Hampshire College. She was a child prodigy, publishing her first book at age fifteen, and since then has continued to develop and publish at an amazing rate, with some eight books of poetry to her name (including The Lamentable City [Tupelo, 2010] and The Zoo in Winter [Melville 2010]). Her poems are often autobiographically based but they are not, in any simple sense, confessional; for her, quotidian scenes are occasions to magnify experience with the full power of the mind and senses, leading one critic to describe her as a Romantic.
Anna Glazova has a similar life trajectory to Barskova’s. She received her earliest education in the Soviet system, moved to Frankfurt, Germany to study comparative literature at the Goethe-Universität, then received a PhD from Northwestern University. Her first book of poetry, Let Water (Pust’ I voda) appeared in 2003, followed by Loop. Unhalved (Petlia. Nevpolovinu) in 2008. If Barskova is interested in moving the past into the present, Glazova pushes Russian poetry along another axis, toward another cultural tradition. A specialist in modern German literature, she has done major translations of German authors into Russian, including Robert Walser, Unica Zürn and, most importantly, Paul Celan.
Maria Stepanova continues to reside in her native Moscow. She is a founder and editor of the online journal openspace.ru, an opinion-maker for young intellectuals, and she is a well-known cultural commentator. Since 2003 when her first three books of poems appeared, she has published new work regularly and to acclaim. She combines a journalistic attention to contemporary politics and social problems – her poem “the Aviator” references the war in Chechnya – with wildly inventive, phantasmagorical scenarios. She is most famous for plot-driven “ballads” that she describes as a kind of prose, hence the title of her famous long poem “Prose of Ivan Sidorov” (“Proza Ivana Sidorova”).
Moderator Katia Kapovich is a bilingual poet writing in English and Russian. Born in Kishinev, Moldova, she emigrated from the Soviet Union, where she was a member of a literary dissident movement, in 1990. She is the author of five collections of Russian verse and of a book of English language poetry, Gogol in Rome (Salt, 2004), shortlisted for the Jerwood Alderburgh Prize 2005 in England. Her English poems have also appeared in the London Review of Books, The New Republic, The Independent, Harvard Review, Ploughshares, The American Scholar, The Antioch Review, Jacket, and numerous other periodicals. She received the 2001 Witter Bynner Fellowship from the US Library of Congress. In 2007 she was Poet-in-Residence at Amherst College. With her husband, the poet Philip Nikolaiev, she co-edits Fulcrum: an annual of poetry and aesthetics.
Psoy Korolenko is the stage-name of well-known Russian songwriter, singer, performer, critic and slavist, Pavel Eduardovich Lion. Performing primarily on keyboard instruments like the Casio sequencer in accordion timbre, Psoy experiments with various song traditions while singing in seven different language, including Russian, Yiddish, English and French. He draws musical inspiration from Tom Lehrer, Tiny Tim, Russian bard songs, Jewish street musicians and Russian rock music. Psoy is often compared to a modern skomorokhs – a medieval East Slavic actor who sings, dances, plays musical instruments and composes their own music and dramatic performances. His live show uses elements of artistic conceptualism and authentic folklore tradition and is described as a deep psychological process and an existential experience.
Alyona Alyonkova (real name Alyona Arenkova) is a prize winning pianist, composer and arranger. She lives and works in St. Petersburg. In collaboration with Psoy Korolenko, she has released two CD’s of ”Russkoe Bogatstvo” (Russian Riches) programs.
The “Russian Voices” symposium is organized in tandem with our “European Voices” series – an ongoing series of conversations with artists and writers, activists and intellectuals exploring questions at the intersection of politics and culture, generously funded by the European Commission Delegation in Washington DC. It addresses similar questions of language, culture, nation, history, and the role of the poet in society.