Synopses & Reviews
"Irina Ratushinskaya's extraordinary poems are a poet's argument with the conscience of her own people. As such, they are part of a great international literature of dissent. These poems flash with imagery, wit, fury, and love of life. Reading them, I draw on their energy for my own struggles as a North American, and am the more convinced that poetry--in effective translation--is the great telepathic boundary-breaker." --Adrienne Rich
"Irina Ratushinskaya...gives an emotional X-ray of a moment, an experience, which, while foreign to virtually all who encounter it on the page, turns suddenly intimate." --Michael Heim
English translations accompany the original Russian texts of poems about conscience, imprisonment, exile, survival, hope, despair, betrayal, winter, and freedom.
About the Author
Born in Odessa, Ratushinskaya received a physics degree at the university, worked as a teacher, and was involved in the human rights movement. In 1980, her request to emigrate from Russia was denied. Two years later, she was arrested for writing and disseminating "anti-Soviet poetry" and was treated very harshly---given a term in a strict-regime camp, to be followed by internal exile. Her brutal camp experiences included solitary confinement, but throughout she continued to write, recording in her poems and diaries the horrors of the Gulag. Ratushinskaya was released in 1986 on the eve of the Reagan-Gorbachev summit in Reykjavik and allowed to go to England, where she now lives.
Table of Contents
1. Our conscience has two inflections . . .
2. And I don't know how they'll kill me . . .
3. Clumsy saw . . .
4. Some tomorrow, little ship of ours . . .
5. If one could go out . . .
6. Give me a nickname . . .
7. What do you recall of us . . . ?
8. I remember an abandoned church . . .
9. Now the cries have died down . . .
10. I will cross the land . . .
11. I'll live through this . . .
12. Here is December again . . .
13. Now the dance . . .
14. I'm sitting on the floor . . .
15. Tanya Osipova, I've had enough
16. For a teaspoon of love . . .
17. This year a spring wind blew . . .
18. Bear Song
19. They arrayed her in heavy dresses . . .
20. We will not go into that river . . .
21. On the other side of the door . . .
22. To My Unknown Friend . . .
23. We'll go mad . . .
24. Their prophets will turn to wind . . .
25. Under the constellation . . .
26. Lillies and raspberries . . .
27. They will betray you . . .
28. The sunset is so inflamed . . .
29. Like Mandelstam's swallow . . .
30. This evening is made for a long walk
31. The wind has shifted . . .
32. And for the cry from the well . . .
33. I'll drop all that I'm doing . . .
34. Don't ask yourself
35. Some day, some day . . .
36. They're forming columns down below . . .
37. I'll take out a big trunk . . .
38. Russia marks us . . .
39. Drinking's set you reeling . . . ?
40. Tomorrow the waters will rise . . .
41. There's a festival . . .
42. Well, we'll live . . .
43. Wildstrawberry Town
44. Just think—we've chewed up the broom . . .
45. Horses, my horses!
46. Leaving neither son nor home . . .
47. And—evening flight . . .
Notes on the Poems