Synopses & Reviews
Poetry. Translated from the Russian by Bela Shayevich and Ainsley Morse. Preface by Mikhail Sukhotin. Afterword by Gerald Janecek. I LIVE I SEE presents a comprehensive survey of the work of Vsevolod Nekrasov (1934-1999), the Soviet literary underground's foremost minimalist. Exploring urban, rural, and purely linguistic environs with an economy of lyrical means and a dark sense of humor, Nekrasov's groundbreaking early poems rupture the stultified language of Soviet cliché while his later work tackles the excesses of the new Russian order. I LIVE I SEE is a testament to Nekrasov's lifelong conviction that art can not only withstand, but undermine oppression.
Nekrasov's poetry, which is often characterized as minimalist, uses repetition and paranomasia to deconstruct and recontextualize his linguistic environment—he targets everything from stock Soviet political mottos to clichés people mutter to one another in everyday situations. For example, by juxtaposing phrases the average Soviet citizen would have taken for granted with arbitrary-seeming homophones, Nekrasov calls official Soviet language to task for the numbness and thoughtlessness it promotes. When not overtly political, his poems examine this same tension between "outward speech" and "inward speech," that is, between the language we use when talking to others and talking to ourselves.
I LIVE I SEE: SELECTED POEMS is the first collection of Nekrasov's work in English translation.
About the Author
Vsevolod Nekrasov (1934-2009), a lifelong resident of Moscow, became active in the literary and artistic underground in the late 1950s. Through the fall of the Soviet Union, his work only appeared in samizdat and European publications. At the beginning of his career, Nekrasov was associated with the experimental writers and artists of the Lianozovo group, and went on to become one of the founding members of Moscow Conceptualism.