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Selected Poems
Arkadii Dragomoshchenko; Eugene Ostashevsky, ed.; Lyn Hejinian, fwd.; Genya Turovskaya, trans.; Bela Shayevich, trans.

Wesleyan Poetry Series

2014 • 178 pp. 2 illus. 6 x 9"
Poetry / Russian

$26.95 Hardcover, 978-0-8195-7392-6

$20.99 Ebook, 978-0-8195-7393-3

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

Bilingual Russian-English ed.

“Dragomoshchenko’s lyric seems to me to have no real American counterparts; its mode recalls Rimbaud and Trakl, Celan and possibly Aimé Cesaire… If the Language poets’ refusal of the authoritative lyric self is shared by Dragomoshchenko, his poetry is much more oriented towards imaginative transformation… For Dragomoshchenko, language is not the always already used and appropriated, the pre-formed and pre-fixed that American poets feel they must wrestle with. On the contrary, Dragomoshchenko insists that ‘language cannot be appropriated because it is perpetually incomplete’... and, in an aphorism reminiscent of Rimbaud’s ‘Je est un autre,’ ‘poetry is always somewhere else’.”—Marjorie Perloff, Sulfur 29

Major collection by a contemporary Russian avant-garde master

The poet Arkadii Dragomoshchenko made his debut in underground magazines in the late Soviet period, and developed an elliptic, figural style with affinities to Moscow metarealism, although he lived in what was then Leningrad. Endarkenment brings together revisions of selected translations by Lyn Hejinian and Elena Balashova from his previous American titles, long out of print, with translations of new work carried out by Genya Turovskaya, Bela Shayevich, Jacob Edmond, and Eugene Ostashevsky. This chronological arrangement of Dragomoshchenko’s writing represents the heights of his imaginative poetry and fragmentary lyricism from perestroika to the time of his death. His language—although “perpetually incomplete” and shifting in meaning—remains fresh and transformative, exhibiting its roots in Russian Modernism and its openness to the poet’s Language School contemporaries in the United States. The collection is a crucial English introduction to Dragomoshchenko’s work. It is also bilingual, with Russian texts that are otherwise hard to obtain. It also includes a foreword by Lyn Hejinian, an essay on how the poetry reads in Russian, a biography, and a list of publications. Check for the online reader’s companion at

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements:

“Russian experimental poet Dragomoshchenko (1946–2012) wrote in an elliptical, self-referential style that was generally at odds with the more established formal poetry of his peers. Luckily, he formed lasting relationships with like-minded American poets, such as Lyn Hejinian, who translated and championed his work abroad. Here, Ostashevsky assembles an essential volume of previously un-translated poems—with interpretations by six translators placed alongside their Russian originals—spanning over three decades of innovation. In tackling larger themes of mortality and temporality, Dragomoshchenko wrestles with the capability of language itself. … What arises is a poetics that, in the vein of Wallace Stevens, explores ambiguity and does not reveal itself so much as dance at the edges of meaning, residing ‘in the location between the glimmering and what lies below.’”
Publishers Weekly

“The long-awaited Endarkenment collects poems written over a span of thirty years, most of which haven’t been translated into English previously. …one can’t help but want more. Such a desire seems appropriate for this poet, who is elusive and present at the same time, always able to offer possibility.”
Samuel Amadon, Boston Review

“…Mr. Dragomoshchenko began publishing in the waning years of the Soviet regime. Born in East Germany, he grew up in the Ukraine, a place we now know is an intersection of languages, customs, and cultures. Perhaps his post-structuralist wordplay was a natural and fitting result.” Iconoclast

“Arkadii Dragomoshchenko is one of the great poets of the last fifty years, a poet who has transformed Russian poetics by exploring a meditative and introspective approach to both rhythm and content. The constantly metamorphosing detail is his constant companion through the often harsh times of the Cold War and what came after. This superb selection reads like one long, wild, sublime poem. It is a small opening onto the vast treasure of this poet’s imagination.”—Charles Bernstein, author of Recalculating

“Dragomoshchenko’s innovative and deeply metaphoric vision makes him one of Russia’s most subtle and experimentally daring authors. To translate his poems is a difficult and adventurous enterprise which has been beautifully accomplished in this quintessential book.”—Mikhail N. Epstein, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Cultural Theory and Russian Literature, Emory University

From the Book:

To a Statesman

As requested by Arkady Bliumbaum--and the following
evening with Zina and Evgeny Pavlov over Moldavian
Cabernet Sauvignon; drifting banter about New Zealand.

When you, Statesman, speak dreams across the notebook,
because the rest menaces night with blue graphite,
and crumbs don’t captivate, nor cast-off clothes,
nor doors, nor veins along the calf, nor eyes,
nor glass in Aegean linens--
for you Stymphalian nightingales magnanimously whistle,
and someone thinks just before sleep that once, long ago
you played circular football, smashed your knee to pieces,
the rain washed over your heads and no one was anointed, slated…

But how much childhood grief was in the clay
that clung to us like ivy, Statesman,
how much tender pain in the loose gravel, the crunch; later
we raced to the stream through the Sunday crowd and the crowd didn’t know
that we had lost that game, but then again, maybe we won it--
protocols turned to dust in concrete castles;
I don’t remember why evening spread itself over the table, when
she pulled off her jeans and in return asked for a book
the name of which I can’t remember…and the pines at night?
O Statesman,
don’t forget how you pulled tadpoles out of the rain barrel.
There algae swayed--Phrygian, pentatonic trifles,
and you caught sight of yourself and tried to launch a yacht in the cistern,
its depth over your head (you would have choked on water)
and the breadth just so, no higher than the waist, so that the little boat
seemed to be made of bread,
and later, empty years passed, lean as the rafters of a fire.

Was it not the obvious end that drove you not into the raspberry brambles
but the dry leaves, to the scythe’s swing through the clover. Were you crying
when you understood that the voices didn’t reach you. That is,
they did reach you--called you to supper, to come home--but they passed,
as it were, through you,
so you decided that would be it, you would get up,
put on a jacket, read a story about heroes, but the mint leaves
muttered that there is lots of sorrow, that there is no one there,
mother is there, from where the raspberry, the dry hedges,
the gold beetles call from, but there’d be no answer because
the seasons are different,
and you have been a grownup for a long time,

Statesman, you conceive laws,
forgetting that you failed to grasp the rules of simple mathematics;
the same as in school when for the first time you sensed the smell of the girl
you shared your desk with,
when empires crumble like chalk on the lackboard, and you didn’t
get your hands on the dress and if someone did,
then it was no one.

Where you didn’t exactly lose, there just isn’t enough time,
you grew tired, that is, when you arrived everyone had already gone
except for the spindle bush, the white raspberry, painted-over windows.
This is from where, as we leave, you appear
full of bewilderment,
or retribution,--it would have been easy to talk about football:
we bombed miserably. The sky is excessive. Money doesn’t yield to
Out of us someone extracts--name, declension. Some have access
to only one dream, others to two: there is no difference--
they see the same thing: an attic, summer heat, sluggish hands
brushing a cobweb from the palm of the wind.

[translated by Genya Turovskaya]

ARKADII DRAGOMOSHCHENKO (1946–2012) was a Russian experimental poet, essayist, and translator. The winner of innumerable prizes both Russian and international, he published and translated broadly, introducing Russian readers to American poetry of the second half of the twentieth century. EUGENE OSTASHEVSKY, a poet and translator, is the author of two books of poetry, including The Life and Opinions of DJ Spinoza.

This project is supported in part by an award from
National Endowment for the Arts

Tue, 2 Feb 2016 15:03:28 -0500