Russian-English bilingual edition
Tatiana Voltskaia is one of Russia’s leading poets, as well as a distinguished journalist and essayist. She belongs to the generation who began to write poetry seriously during the last decade of the USSR, reacting to the profound and disturbing changes of that time to emerge as the poets of the new Russia. Her subjects are the perennial Russian ones of love and death, and her work continues Brodsky’s preoccupation with space and time as the vectors of our lives, echoing his vision of Russia as a crumbling empire.
At the centre of her lyrical poetry there is a woman trying to escape from her condition of isolation, seeking communication through dialogue, conversations, reflections, shadows, echoes, letters and sex. Many of her poems are set in her native city of St Petersburg – often described as the Venice of the North – where water meets stone, reflections meet their images, and what is real is confronted at every turn by illusion. It is an ‘artificial’ city, built without native or vernacular architecture or culture: everything was borrowed and imitated to create a window on to the West, and this eclectic cultural mix where East meets West finds its reflection in Voltskaia’s work.
Her concern with the Western tradition of literature in Russian poetry places her firmly in the St Petersburg tradition of Pushkin, Blok, Akhmatova, Mandelstam, Brodsky and Kushner, characterised by strict verse form, intellectual themes including those from classical literature and myth, coupled with an intimate address to the reader.
The same themes appear in all her work, but while in the prose Voltskaia sets these in the context of our lives and times, examining the implications they have for our society, in her poetry she explores their personal significance for the individual.