Poetry. Matvei Yankelevich's first full-length book, BORIS BY THE SEA, is a work of existential theater that destroys the distance between puppeteer and puppet, between ego and id, between what is real and what is absurd. Consisting of prose, poems, and plays, the book creates its own world and then confronts the loneliness of having to exist within one's own creation. Like Daniil Kharms, Yankelevich has written a children's book for only the bravest of adults.
"Boris is a precarious creature thrown into a world he is ill-suited for—a bit like Monsieur Plume and other relatives. The world was 'somewhere inside his skull. And it hurt.' These poems and dramatic sketches, however, delight even when they hurt."—Rosmarie Waldrop
"BORIS BY THE SEA was born when Aesop was reading Chekhov, and Chekhov was reading Nietzsche, and Nietzsche was watching The Brother from Another Planet. Actually Matvei Yankelevich wrote this book, but 'wrote' is incomplete...he seems more to inhabit this stateless, beautiful being who uses language to move his body or erase the sea: 'Boris looked over himself and realized there were many parts of him that he could not see. And only a small part of these parts was on the surface.' BORIS BY THE SEA could be a children's fable if it weren't so freakin' real, unreal, hyper-real: 'But people need each other to open each other up and see what is inside.' This is Boris—and he, like Pinocchio—has a clever master."—Robert Fitterman
Author City: BROOKLYN, NY USA
Matvei Yankelevich was born in 1973 in Moscow, USSR, from where his family emigrated to the Boston area in the late 1970s. He is the author of ALPHA DONUT (United Artists Books, 2012) and a previous book—a novella in fragments—BORIS BY THE SEA (Octopus Books, 2009), and several chapbooks: Writing in the Margin (Loudmouth Collective, 2001), The Present Work (Palm Press, 2006), The Nature Poetry of Matvei Yankelevich (Knock-Off, 2010), and Bending at the Elbow (Minutes Books). Yankelevich is a widely published translator of Russian poetry; his translations of the eccentric early 20th Century writer Daniil Kharms have appeared in many journals, including Harpers, The New Yorker, and NEW AMERICAN WRITING, and were collected in Today I Wrote Nothing: The Selected Writings of Daniil Kharms (Overlook, 2007; Ardis/Overlook paperback, 2009). He has taught at the Russian Department of Hunter College, Columbia University School of the Arts, and the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College. He is a member of the volunteer editorial collective of Ugly Duckling Presse, a nonprofit publisher based in Brooklyn, New York.
Reviews and Other Links
author @ PennSound
Vanessa Place @ The Constant Critic
M. Rebekah Otto @ The Rumpus
David Kaufmann @ Tablet
Stephanie Burns @ H_NGM_N
Jeffrey Side @ Center for Literary Publishing
interview by Susie DeFord @ BOMBlog
Alex Estes @ The Brooklyn Rail