Birdsong on the Seabed
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Elena Shvarts was the most outstanding Russian poet of her generation. Birdsong on the Seabed presents a selection of her later poetry. Shvarts brought out four new collections in Russian after the publication by Bloodaxe in 1993 of 'Paradise': Selected Poems, the first English edition of her poetry and also a Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation. This second bilingual Russian-English selection of her work also includes some poems unpublished in Russia at the time. Sasha Dugdale's translation of Birdsong on the Seabed was shortlisted for both the Rossica Translation Prize and the Corneliu M. Popescu Award for European Poetry in Translation. Elena Shvarts stood outside all schools and movements in contemporary Russian poetry. She once famously described poetry as a 'dance without legs'. Her own poetry fits this description perfectly, a combination of deeply rhythmic and lyrical dance with the eccentric, perpetual movement of flight. The world of her poems is strange and grotesque; often the setting is urban, but unrecognisable - towns emptied of the everyday and peopled only by animals, spirits and strange elemental forces. A peculiar religious fervour illuminates these scenes, but her religion is unorthodox and highly individual. Shvarts' poetry is visionary. Her vision takes her to the edge of language and rhythm, and she was one of the few contemporary poets brave enough to trust her vision absolutely. Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation.
Bloodaxe Books, 9781852247836, 171pp.
Publication Date: March 27, 2008
About the Author
Elena Shvarts was the most outstanding Russian poet of her generation, as well as a prose writer of distinction. Born in St Petersburg in 1948, she studied at the Leningrad Institute of Film, Music and Theatre. The daughter of a theatre literary manager, she earned her living translating plays for Leningrad's theatres. Her poems were published in samizdat and abroad from the late 60s, but her first Russian publication, Circle, did not appear until 1984. Since then she has published more than ten collections of poetry. A book of prose pieces, including short autobiographical fragments, The Visible Side of Life, was published in 2003. She was awarded the Andrei Bely Literary Prize in 1979, and the Triumph Prize in 2003, an independent award for lifetime's achievement in the arts. Bloodaxe published two bilingual editions covering her earlier and later work, 'Paradise': Selected Poems (1993) and Birdsong on the Seabed (2008), both of which are Poetry Book Society Recommended Translations. She had just completed a book on the Italian poet D'Annunzio at the time of her death from cancer in 2010. Sasha Dugdale's translation of Birdsong on the Seabed was shortlisted for both the Rossica Translation Prize and the Corneliu M. Popescu Award for European Poetry in Translation.