Take Me to Stavanger: Poems (Pitt Poetry Series)
A Bilingual Collection of Poems for a Dispirited Society
Amid the din of Russia’s patriotic sentiments and Instagram instants, is there any room left for the voice of a poet? Despite the many entertainments and distractions of modern life, Anzhelina Polonskaya’s spare but cutting poems in Take Me to Stavanger declare a wholehearted “Yes.” This bilingual Russian-English volume makes a refuge for the poet and her readers, plumbing the depths of contemporary melancholy and ennui. Beautifully crafted idiosyncratic dissections of a strong individual who refuses to go along with the currents of popular culture or political jingoism invite readers to slow down and pay attention.
Praise for Take Me to Stavanger: Poems (Pitt Poetry Series)
In Anzehlina Polonskaya’s devastating poetry, “there are only two seasons: winter and winter. / And only black and white have rights.” Anglophone readers who have wondered where they might find a contemporary inheritor of the tragic and visionary poetry left us by Tsvetaeva, Ahkmatova, and Mandelstam need look no further. It’s burning bright in these musical, sharp, and expert translations by Andrew Wachtel, who here serves again as Polonskaya’s ferryman from Russian into English. These poems go for broke, and break the sound barrier between languages and cultures. They lament, they leap, they keep pushing beyond, looking for common ground. Everywhere we turn in them, we find life as it coldly stares through death. “And what’s in the hourglass / if not soot? / I want to sleep and forget the words. / I couldn’t find asylum there . . .” As much as we ever have, and more so now, we need to hear from the voice of conscience in Russia. In your hands is living testimony.
--Joshua Weiner, author of Berlin Notebook: Where Are the Refugees?