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“Russian Poetry of the Second World War”, a talk by Dr Maria Bloshteyn followed by Q&As

Thursday 22 October, 2020, 19:00 - 20:30

The canon of Russian World War II poetry has continued unchallenged for 75 years after the victory over Nazi Germany.  What were the reasons for the enormous output of war poems in the Soviet Union during WWII?  Which poets and poems continue to be excluded from Russian poetry anthologies of the Great Patriotic War?  We will look at some specific examples of excluded poets and their poems from a new bilingual anthology of Russian WWII poetry Russia is Burning (published by Smokestack Books).

Maria Bloshteyn was born in Leningrad (St. Petersburg) and emigrated to Canada when she was nine years old. She received her PhD from Toronto’s York University and was a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University, where she examined Dostoevsky’s impact on American literature and culture. She is the author of The Making of a Counter-Culture Icon: Henry Miller’s Dostoevsky (2007) and the translator of Alexander Galich’s Dress Rehearsal (2009) and Anton Chekhov’s The Prank (2015). Her translations have also appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, including The Penguin Book of Russian Poetry (Penguin Classics, 2015).
Here you can see the PRESENTATION with the recited poems.

The bilingual book of poetry can be purchased from the publisher Smockestack Books or from various bookshops: Blackwell’s (Heffers), Waterstones, Poetry Book Society , or amazon.
You can read two book reviews in Literary Review (by Robert Chandler) and in The Postil (by N. Dass).

WHEN: Thursday, 22 October, 19:00 GST
LANGUAGE: English (with some poems being read in Russian).
Tickets: FREE*

Please register in advance for this meeting.
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

* While there is no charge for our online events, CamRuSS would welcome any donations towards the support of our volunteers’ efforts in bringing more speakers and online events during the current social distancing time.
*Suggested donations – adults £10, CamRuSS members, OAPs, students – £5.
You can send your donations by a direct bank transfer (BACS) to the following account:
Cambridge Russian-Speaking Society, NATWEST Bank,
Sort code: 60-11-30 Account: 18120466.

About the book.
The Second World War occupies a special place in Russian memory. Between the German invasion in June 1941 and the liberation of Berlin in May 1945, over 26 million Soviet civilians, servicemen and women were killed fighting the Nazis. The war also occupies a special place in the history of Russian poetry. For Anna Akhmatova the Red Army was defending the Russian language as well as Russian soil (‘we will defend you, Russian speech’). Poems written by Red Army soldiers were published in newspapers and broadcast on the radio. Alexei Surkov’s ‘In the Dugout’ and Konstantin Simonov’s ‘Wait for Me’ became well-known as popular songs.

Published to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the War, Russia is Burning brings together for the first time in any language poems written by Soviet soldiers on the front-line and civilians in the Leningrad blockade, by émigré poets, by prisoners of war and Gulag prisoners, by poets who wrote ‘for the drawer’ and by later writers who tried to understand the war and its long-term effects on Russian society.
Including poems by Boris Slutsky, Anna Akhmatova, Boris Pasternak, Olga Berggoltz, Alexander Tvardovsky, Samuel Marshak, Irina Bem, Evgeny Vinokurov, Vsevolod Nekrasov, Bulat Okudzhava, Vladimir Vysotsky and Ilya Ehrenburg, Russia is Burning is stunning testimony to the power of poetry to resist Fascism and a reminder of the extraordinary heroism and endurance of the Soviet people in the war against Nazi Germany.


Thursday 22 October, 2020
19:00 - 20:30
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