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This Lamentable City

4.23 of 5 stars 4.23  ·  rating details  ·  22 ratings  ·  7 reviews
Poetry. Bilingual Edition. Translated from the Russian by Ilya Kaminsky. Polina Barskova's poems are a zesty paradoxical concoction: bawdy and erudite, elegant and raw, subtle and brazen. As Ilya Kaminsky attests in his introduction to THIS LAMENTABLE CITY, "Barskova is an elegiac poet who brings to her American readers a language formally inventive, worldly and humorous. ...more
Paperback, 48 pages
Published March 22nd 2010 by Tupelo Press
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Arnoldo Garcia
Oct 19, 2014 Arnoldo Garcia rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: poets, translators, culture workers, book-lovers
Shelves: poetas
Snap-review of "This Lamentable City: poems by Polina Barskova"

Because at one time I believed that the capitalist society I lived in could be transformed with deep justice, self-less revolutionary organizing, I looked to other countries that had overthrown this system and looked to their poets to see how they saw and wrote about the the transformations and their attempts at revolutionary transformations. There was much to immerse myself in Spanish:
Cuban, Salvadoran, Nicaraguan, Spanish, Portugu
It is nice to read a translation of a woman poet who is the same age as me for a book written recently. Most translations I've been reading lately are of men a lot older than I am, and very often the poems were written a long time ago.

I never heard of Barskova before, she was publishing poems since she was 9 years old and came to the US when she was 20 to get her PhD.

I liked reading the book, but I wanted more. The book was very short. It has the poems in Russian and English on facing pages.

I h
Excellent poems translated from Russian, the shortness of this volume makes it enticingly easy to pick up and yet leaves you hungry for more. The images are striking but also straightforward and the poems end with a beautiful twist of words and metaphor. I love that you can understand the images yet come up with your own interpretation.

One of my favorites is the first in the book, uninspiringly named "To A.K." But somehow even the dull name recommended itself to me after I read it, as if I was g
Virginia Baker
From "Conjunction, And"

...and you took me by the took me by the took me by the hand
and a tree with red berries and mountains and mountains
and we laughed and listened and Lord everything was bullshit
and the tree with its red berries and its bark and its bark
and we had each other like beasts without pausing
and if everything after the face is sad we are not things
and we came from garbage and we played with garbage
and you caressed my skin with the seeds of pearls.

From "Manuscript Found by Natasha Ro
I was deeply impressed with this slight volume packed with sensual, visceral language that borders often on the grotesque. It is startling, rhythmically potent work that uses lines and enjambment to great effect, something I often find lacking in contemporary poetry both in original-language and in translation. Here, the English of the (collaborative) translation works carefully with rhythm and sound, but without drowning out the accent, those slips and strangenesses that indicate this is a work ...more
This is a good book, yes, but for all the incredibly high praise it's received I was expecting something a little more earth-shattering. Instead, it's a very very thin volume that mines history for its intrigue, and often it seems the appeal here for Americans would be a hint of international Cold War voyeurism, rather than much in the way of true empathy. It was fascinating, though, to see how the Russian was translated, but for those with no Russian that is lost; in short, these poems are love ...more
super short and kind of perfect. a little dark but also full of life. i read it aloud.
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