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Birdsong on the Seabed [Paperback]

Elena Shvarts , Sasha Dugdale (translator)


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Book Description

10 Mar 2008
Elena Shvarts is one of Russia's greatest poets. "Birdsong on the Seabed" presents a selection of her most recent poetry. Shvarts has brought out four new collections in Russian since the publication by Bloodaxe in 1993 of "'Paradise': Selected Poems", the first English edition of her poetry and a Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation. This new bilingual Russian-English selection also includes some poems not yet been published in Russia. Elena Shvarts stands outside all schools and movements in contemporary Russian poetry. She once famously described poetry as a 'dance without legs'. Her own poetry fits this description perfectly, a combination of deeply rhythmic and lyrical dance with the eccentric, perpetual movement of flight. The world of her poems is strange and grotesque; often the setting is urban, but unrecognisable - towns emptied of the everyday and peopled only by animals, spirits and strange elemental forces.A peculiar religious fervour illuminates these scenes, but her religion is unorthodox and highly individual. Shvarts' poetry is visionary. Her vision takes her to the edge of language and rhythm, and she is one of the few poets who is brave enough to trust her vision absolutely.

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Review

Elena Shvarts is a miracle, believe me. Her poetry is the purest of creations. --Bella Akhmadulina

An explosive book by a dark, free, northern spirit... Bulgakov and Tsvetayeva (and Angela Carter) would feel at home in her violently imagined townscapes and landscapes. --Edwin Morgan, PBS Bulletin

About the Author

Elena Shvarts is a poet and prose writer. Born in St Petersburg in 1948, she studied at the Leningrad Institute of Film, Music and Theatre. The daughter of a theatre literary manager, she earned her living translating plays for Leningrad's theatres. Her poems were published in samizdat and abroad from the late 60s, but her first Russian publication, Circle, did not appear until 1984. Since then she has published more than ten collections of poetry. A book of prose pieces, including short autobiographical fragments, The Visible Side of Life, was published in 2003. She was awarded the Andrei Bely Literary Prize in 1979, and the Triumph Prize in 2003, an independent award for lifetime's achievement in the arts.Bloodaxe has published two bilingual editions covering her earlier and later work, 'Paradise': Selected Poems (1993) and Birdsong on the Seabed (2008), both of which are Poetry Book Society Recommended Translations.

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