Pavel Arseniev. Reported Speech (New York: Cicada Press, 2018)
This is the first bi-lingual English-Russian edition of Pavel Arseniev’s poetry. Arseniev is a St. Petersburg writer, editor, political activist, theoretician, and recipient of the Andrei Bely prize, Russia’s most prestigious literary award. The book contains an introduction by Kevin M.F. Platt (University of Pennsylvania) and is edited by Anastasiya Osipova.
Arseniev’s poetry provides a living link between the legacy of the 1920s Soviet avant-garde art and theory, on the one hand, and the modern Western materialist thought on the other. It traces how these diverse influences become weaponized in the language of contemporary Russian protest culture. Arseniev readily politicizes all, even the most mundane facts of the poet’s life, while at the same time, approaching reified bits of found speech and propaganda with lithe, at times corrosive irony and lyricism.
“One hundred years after the October revolution, LEF (Left Front of the Arts), and Russian Formalism, Pavel Arseniev brings into Russian poetry the militant excitement of subversive materialist exploration and canny activist protest. The unique results of this poetic event will, without a doubt, be exceptionally interesting and useful to an American reader.”
Kirill Medvedev, the author of It’s No Good
“Pavel Arseniev charts the ‘emergence of unexpected forms of collective life…’ These vivid translations show contemporary Russian poetry at one of its high points, where language laughs at its own seriousness but opens the way for astute cultural insights and a bracing evocation of life lived out loud.”
Stephanie Sandler, Harvard University
The truths of Russian administered reality were long ago stripped bare, so that now the poet’s work is to invent a new line of camouflage. Warning: Pavel Arseniev is a defector with only his disguises to divulge. Perhaps this as close as we can come, in this moment, to alchemy. Or is it allegory?
Warning: this is poetry that makes Russia great again. Arseniev is taking a bullet for poetry but, at the same time, he is asking – will poetry take a bullet for you? Warning: any complete picture – lies. Then one day dyr bul schyl. Reported Speech turns the stink of the real into a stinging aesthetic coup de grace. I’m defecting to that.
Charles Bernstein, University of Pennsylvania
Ambiguity and Bilingual Art: Pavel Arseniev’s Reported Speech in Review
Asymptote | February 27, 2019 | by Paul Worley
In a bilingual Russian-English format, Arseniev’s work articulates intimate, defiant, and at times desperate responses to a world in which culture seems to be increasingly prefabricated, predetermined, and designed to numb the mind and soul.
Exposing the absurd vagaries of the present moment is where the volume shines as a tremendous piece of internationalist literature.
Through art like Arseniev’s poetry, we gain a toehold, however momentary, from which we are better able to grasp the present and prepare a future.
As a keyhole into contemporary Russian experimental poetry, the volume should find a broad readership in the English speaking world. In essence, the book represents poetic strategies for resistance and survival under fierce oppression, underscoring that literature matters, as well as how it does things.
30 Novembre — 1 December Yale University | Symposium «Pointed Words: Poetry and Politics in the Global Present»
2 December New York City | Readings @Ugly Duckling Press Headquarters
4 December Chicago University | Readings & discussion @R.Bird’s seminar
5 December Harvard University | Readings & discussion @S.Sandler’s seminar
8 December Boston | Readings @ASEEES
12 December New York University (Jordan Center) | Poetry Reading and Book Talk @Jordan Center