Poetry Reading: Polina Barskova
Join us for a poetry reading by Polina Barskova, sponsored by the English Department and The Friends of MacLeish. Polina Barskova was born in then-Leningrad in 1976. She published her first book of poetry Christmas in 1991—last year her tenth book of poetry A Sunny Morning in the Square was published in Saint Petersburg.
Barskova left Russia at the age of twenty to pursue a Ph.D. in Russian Studies at UC Berkeley, having already earned a graduate degree and become an accomplished poet in her homeland. Three books of Barskova’s poetry were translated into English: This Lamentable City (Tupelo Press, 2010), (Melville House, 2011), and Relocations (Zephyr Press, 2015). As a professor of Russian literature at Hampshire College, Barskova began an archival project that resulted in Written in the Dark: Five Poets in the Siege of Leningrad (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2016), an anthology of work written during the siege that remained unknown for decades.
Barskova lives in Amherst with her daughter Frosia. At the end of 2015 she received the Andrey Bely Prize for her book of prose Living Pictures—her play with the same title has been staged at the Moscow Theatre of Nations.
From Mad Vatslav’s Diary
I was a coal-miner, water
Poured over my gray hair, my eyelashes.
My sister, alive and laughing,
Shepherded such glorious cows!
I was a soldier, and afraid of living
I did my best to die–but did not manage to stumble
Upon any bad luck. The tsar’s own daughter
Visited my cabin and gave me a magic rope.
I was a slave. My master’s wife
Adored us, the dark, forbidden Slavs.
The green sunrise was the strangest.
In sorrow I danced, swaying, trembling, on wooden porches.