Winding down from last night's reading with Aleksandr Skidan, held at Brown's Slavic Dept. Good turnout. Forrest Gander brought his translation class. Mairead Byrne was there, too. Various intriguing Slavists listened in.
A. Skidan a serious writer, well-spoken about his aims & interests. (Looks much younger than his 42 yrs. His features bear a striking resemblance to a young (& healthy) Marsden Hartley, if you can imagine that.) Out of the absurdist/avant-garde/activist wing of Russian poetry - Arkadii Dragomoschenko a mentor & influence, the Mandelstam of "Verses on the Unknown Soldier", OBERIU... he mentioned some other figures who are important to him, but I didn't catch the names. He likes to play with "theory", deconstruction, disassemblng & reconfiguring famous works (Pushkin's poem "The Prophet", for ex.). But there is a strong emotional intensity & emotional/dramatic connection with real people & events underneath the games. Ferocious, ironic; awareness of pain & squalor. Hardship edge of life in Russia. Strong antagonism to Putin & oligarchy/mafia - he is politically active, sees need to revive some of the Samizdat spirit & networks, in a new form.