But As For You, With What Are You Pregnant?

The following is the third in a series of five poems I am posting from The New Russian Poets: 1953 to 1966: An Anthology, selected, edited, and translated by George Reavey. I am also including my original photography with the posts.
This is a poem by Yevgeny Yevtushenko, a man with a story nearly as complex as the 20th century Russian politics in which he was entwined. As New York Sun journalist Michael Weiss wrote of the poet in 2008,

In truth, Mr. Yevtushenko’s politics have always been a complicated mixture of bravery, populism, and vulgar accommodation with dictatorship. “The writers who had briefly flourished [under Khrushchev’s thaw] … went two different ways,” the great Sovietologist and literary critic Robert Conquest put it in a 1974 profile. “Solzhenitsyn and his like into silenced opposition; Yevtushenko and his like, sometimes reluctantly, sometimes in the hope of still influencing matters a little, into well-rewarded collaboration.”

Yevtushenko died in 2017 at age 83.

IN MEMORY OF THE POET XENIA NEKRASOVA
Yevgeny Yevtushenko

I’ll never forget about Ksiusha,
Ksuisha,
who looked so like a ninny,
with her squinting eyes,
her pockmarks.
And how was she to blame?
Her blame
lay in her pockmarks,
her squinting eyes,
and the unsightly dresses she wore…

What did she really want of us?
A kindly smile,
a glass of lemonade,
that we print her verse from time to time
and accept her, Ksuisha, as a writer…

In general, we gave her the lemonade,
but as for the kindly smile–
hardly that.
We even paid her an occasional small fee,
but we wouldn’t accept her as a writer,
because our moral guardians
had decided
she wasn’t normal.

You,
who are so revoltingly normal,
you
are abnormal from birth.
How could you understand that Ksuisha
was full of courage
and pregnant with music?
Thus, our Ksuisha lay in her coffin.
She held her hands clasped on her belly,
as though she were gently protecting
an infant in it…

But as for you,
with what are you pregnant?
With music maybe?
Or merely with the bones of contention?
Why do you brag of denying your bodies,
you
who are pregnant only with barrenness?
You shall not be forgiven
on poor Ksuisha’s account.
You’ll have to pay
for Ksuisha’s soul.

1965

Bridge Motel in Red n.2, 2007

Bridge Motel in Red n.1, 2007Bridge Motel Room, n.1 & n.2, 2007.
Taken with Holga 120, modified for 35mm film.


Sources:
Reavey, George, ed. The New Russian Poets: 1953-1966: An Anthology. Comp./Trans. George Reavey. 1st ed. New York: October House Inc., 1966.
Weiss, Michael. “A Citizen of Human Grief.” The New York Sun. 11 Feb. 2008. Web. 22 May 2017.

Citing this page:
Solomon, Alana. “But As For You, With What Are You Pregnant?.” Ortolana Studio & Press. Ortolana Studio & Press, 24 May 2017. Web.

I, He Says, Am No Warrior

(The following is the second in a series of five poems I am posting from The New Russian Poets: 1953 to 1966: An Anthology, selected, edited, and translated by George Reavey. I am also including my original photography with the posts.
This is an early poem by Novella Matveyeva, written well before she had established herself as an award-winning poet, screenwriter, literary theorist, and Russian
bard, which in this context refers to one who wrote songs with styles and topics outside the Soviet status quo. Matveyeva died in 2016.)

I, HE SAYS, AM NO WARRIOR20170514_205940
Novella Matveyeva

I, he says, am no warrior,
I, he says, am split in two,
I, he says, am disturbed,
Quartered,
Crucified!
You, I say, are no warrior,
You, I say, are split in two,
Crucified and quartered,
But you are no bungler.
Puffing at a pipe,
Taking yourself apart
As one does a meat-grinder,
You may well be right.
But you had better know! This night
Enemies will come to you;
I see them very plainly,
I hear their footsteps approaching…
You hear them!
You don’t hear them?
They’re already hurrying…
Like mice, they’re scampering
Towards your spiritual larder.
And briskly they will steal
In darkness and in quiet
The splintered portions
Of your ailing spirit.
20170514_205957
“And what will they start doing
To this soul of mine?”
And what will they start doing
To that soul all smashed, but ample?”
“They’ll paint the second part,
And they will rule the third;
The fourth they will ferment,
And they’ll inflate the fifth,
The sixth they’ll set on fire,
And then take to their heels.
There was a man, no warrior,
There was a man who’s split in two,
There was a man that’s incomplete,
And all the time he must have lied:
Then hearing of disaster,
He began to wink more often,
And raked these parts together,
And — passably! — gathered them into one.

1965

Statues, 2007


Source:
Reavey, George, ed. The New Russian Poets: 1953-1966: An Anthology. Comp./Trans. George Reavey. 1st ed. New York: October House Inc., 1966.
Citing this page:
Solomon, Alana. “I, He Says, Am No Warrior.” Ortolana Studio & Press. Ortolana Studio & Press, 23 May 2017. Web.

Horses in the Ocean

20170522_101622(The following is the first in a series of five poems I am posting from The New Russian Poets: 1953 to 1966: An Anthology, selected, edited, and translated by George Reavey. I am also including my original photography with the posts.
In Reavey’s introduction, he writes of the poet Boris Slutsky:
A certain almost crude directness and economy of means are the characteristic of this poet who sees his function as a “telegraph wire” which carries messages in Morse about “events.” Slutsky avoids poetic embellishments and ornaments…thus he hits straight from the shoulder and insists on “sense.” Slutsky’s dry and laconic poetic comments have an interest of their own.)

HORSES IN THE OCEAN
Boris Slutsky
To Ilya Ehrenburg

20170522_101520Horses know how to swim,
But not so well. Not too far.
In Russian, “Gloria” means “Slava.”
That you can easily remember.
The ship sailed on, proud of its name.
The ocean tried to get the better of it.
In the hold, shaking their heads,
A thousand horses trampled day and night.
A thousand horses! Four thousand hooves!
All the same they brought no luck,
A mine ripped out the bottom of the ship
when it was a long way from the shore.
The men piled into boats and sloops.
The horses could only swim.
What else could they do when there was no room
For them in the boats and on the rafts?
An island of bays was swimming in the ocean.
In the sea, the blue sea, swam an island of grays.
To swim seemed simple in the beginning.
To them the ocean seemed a river.
But it was a river that had no bank in sight.
When their equine strength was failing,
The horses suddenly began to neigh, protesting
Against those who were drowning them in the ocean.
The horses sank to the bottom, neighing, neighing,
Until they had all gone down.
That is all. Nevertheless, I pity them,
Those bay horses, that never saw the land again.

1965

Crows on the Hill n.1, 2007


Source:
Reavey, George, ed. The New Russian Poets: 1953-1966: An Anthology. Comp./Trans. George Reavey. 1st ed. New York: October House Inc., 1966.
Citing this page:
Solomon, Alana. “Horses in the Ocean.” Ortolana Studio & Press. Ortolana Studio & Press, 22 May 2017. Web.

Take a Picture, It’ll Last Longer

Taking a daily self-portrait is a challenge, because you must be disciplined and patient enough to set aside the time to work for a decent result (unless you’re just aiming for a daily “selfie,” which is fun too!) The greatest challenge of the project, for me, was to keep things interesting, since every day the subject was the same. I also wanted to make sure they didn’t all look like self-conscious self-portraits, but that maybe another hand had been involved.
For n.10 on my 100/1000 list, I’ll only be taking weekly photos, but for nearly three years. That comes out to 144 photos. To kick off the project, I present a series of self-portraits taken over the years.

This first set was taken with an Oktomat camera. I used to collect and repair vintage and experimental cameras, and still enjoy playing around with them from time to time. The Oktomat takes eight sequential shots within about 2.5 seconds, and they’re all printed on the same frame.

oktomat-self-portraits-in-journal_23002356876_o

Continue reading “Take a Picture, It’ll Last Longer”