Monday, August 13, 2012

New Poems by Irina Yevsa

Image courtesy of RIA Novosti

I was happy to see that the May issue of the journal Novy Mir features seven new poems by Irina Yevsa, the Ukrainian poet whose work I translated not long ago for Anomalous Press. (The editors even had me make audio recordings of the poems! I wish that Ms. Yevsa could have done the the Russian originals, but we were thwarted by technical difficulties.)

The new batch includes an epistolary dialogue between Libra and Aquarius, an elaboration on a children's rhyme from the Soviet years, and a belated confession of Nabokovian ignorance. But my favorite is this one, an elegy for an old friend killed in a fight, with its long lines and narrative sensibility:
“Погиб, — сказали. — В пьяной драке не уберёгся от ножа.
Его нашли у гаража, ну, там, где мусорные баки”.
Два бака. Я их помню. Да. Ещё — беседку в брызгах света,
где мы играли в города, а повзрослев, совсем не в это.
Кусты, скрывающие лаз в заборе. Запахи столовки.
За тридцать лет хотя бы раз могла сойти на остановке.
Так нет же. Пальцем по стеклу водила, злясь на жизнь иную,
где старый хлебный на углу перелицован был в пивную.
Но если б знать, что ты уже — от встреч случайных независим —
в тот край, куда не пишут писем, успел отбыть на ПМЖ,
чтоб, как тогда, — из темноты, многоочитой и хрипатой, —
кричать мне с первого на пятый: “Я не люблю тебя! А ты?”
(Notice the internal rhymes, which mask the poem’s true form. Why did Yevsa disguise her tetrameter quatrains as octameter couplets?)


  1. That's a wonderful poem, and I thank you for sharing it. I was struck by "многоочитой"; it's a good eighteenth-century word (e.g., from Kostrov's Ode on the opening of the Society of the Lovers of Erudition at Moscow University, "Россія, исполинъ величественный видомъ,/ Многоочитъ и бодръ"), but I suspect Yevsa got it from Brodsky's 1965 "Колокольчик звенит":

    Я на год постарел
    и в костюме шута
    от жестокости многоочитой
    хоронюсь под защитой
    травяного щита.

  2. Oh, and I should add that it always makes me happy to see that black-on-pale-blue Новый Мир logo.

  3. It's a new word to me. How did you learn so much about it? I see a number of occurrences in the National Corpus, including Gogol and Nabokov, but neither of the two examples you gave shows up.