Winner of the Stephen Mitchell Translation Prize.
Sergey Gandlevsky was born in 1952, one year before Stalin’s death. From early on, he opted out of the Soviet system, working odd jobs and sharing poetry only with a small coterie of friends. His work did not appear in Russian literary journals until the late ’80s, during glasnost. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, his poetry and prose have received nearly every major Russian literary prize, and a Russian critics’ poll named him the country’s most important living poet. Brilliantly rendered into English by poet and translator Philip Metres, OCHRE & RUST presents five decades of the best work from a major voice in Russian letters.
“To say that Gandlevsky is a major living European poet is to say the truth. But what does that mean? Here is a poet who began writing in the second half of 20th century in the USSR when censorship was real and most interesting art existed on the margins of society, providing witness and lyric insight into the epoch and the human heart. And here we are again, decades later, a brutal invasion raging on, the censorship is back, the poet lives in exile. But what we have now is this marvelous body of work in front of us, expertly brought into English by one of our best American poets and translators—the kind of poetry that sets time to music and captures the epoch’s tone in vivid images, making emotion visible, thought felt, and history sensed. For that is exactly what true poetry can do. And my response is gratitude.” —Ilya Kaminsky, author of Deaf Republic
“To travel in these marvelous translations of Sergey Gandlevsky’s poems is to journey by train with gypsies, to leave cities of rivers and barges and linden trees, to walk down Gogol Boulevard toward a liquor store, arriving late, after everything is closed, ‘with no rubles to cure the hangover.’ For what of time? Whether it is in the politburo or the potato patch, nothing can stop its presence, while our brutal, hard-guzzling companion, a dark, clownish figure that Gandlevsky manipulates into sardonic, three-ringed stanzas and tumbling rhymes, cajoles and entertains. The poem, Gandlevsky says, has ‘dark motives,’ yet he retrieves time from the sentimental. And what does he make of time? Poems, the life of one man, which means his motherland.” —Sean Thomas Dougherty, author of Death Prefers the Minor Keys
Sergey Gandlevsky is one of the most celebrated contemporary Russian poets. Gandlevsky opted out of the Soviet system, working odd jobs and sharing poetry with a small coterie of friends in the 1970s and '80s. His work did not appear in Russian literary journals until the late 1980s, during glasnost. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, his poetry and prose have received nearly every major Russian literary prize: the Little Booker Prize (1996), the Anti-Booker Prize (1996), the Moscow Score prize (2009), and the Poet Prize (2010). A Russian critics' poll in the 2000s named him the country's most important living poet. His writing-poetry, fiction, and essays-has been translated into numerous languages, including English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Georgian, Hungarian, Finnish, Polish, Lithuanian, Croatian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Turkish, Chinese, and Japanese. In English, Gandlevsky's poetry also appears in A Kindred Orphanhood: Selected Poems of Sergey Gandlevsky (Zephyr Press, 2003). Gandlevsky's two novels also appear in English translation by Suzanne Fusso: Trepanation of the Skull (Northern Illinois University Press, 2014) and Illegible (Northern Illinois University Press, 2019). Since 1993, Gandlevsky has worked at the journal Foreign Literature. A lifelong Muscovite, Gandlevsky relocated to the Republic of Georgia when the war in Ukraine began.
Philip Metres is the author of ten books, including Shrapnel Maps (Copper Canyon Press, 2020), The Sound of Listening: Poetry as Refuge and Resistance (University of Michigan Press, 2018), Sand Opera (Alice James Books, 2015), and four volumes of poetry in translation; the most recent, I BURNED AT THE FEAST: SELECTED POEMS OF ARSENY TARKOVSKY (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2015), won a PEN/Heim Translation Fund grant and was shortlisted for the PEN Translation Award, the Read Russia Prize, and was longlisted for the National Translation Award. His work has garnered fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ohio Arts Council, and the Watson Foundation. Recipient of the Adrienne Rich Award, three Arab American Book Awards, the Cleveland Arts Prize, and the Hunt Prize, Metres has been called "one of the essential poets of our time," whose work is "beautiful, powerful, and magnetically original." He is Professor of English and Director of the Peace, Justice, and Human Rights program at John Carroll University, and lives in Cleveland, Ohio.