Russian-English bilingual edition
Tatiana Shcherbina has been described as ‘one of the most significant figures in contemporary Russian poetry’ (Kommersant’). In her recent work the elegant and ironic narrator meditates on love, disappointment and loss against the backdrop of Russia’s social collapse. Sometimes her poems take the form of overtly political statements (‘Dictatorship, democracy’), sometimes new capitalist Russia is reflected merely in the emotional plane – in a poem on lost love she claims she has paid the highest rate: cash.
Whilst her themes are timeless, Shcherbina’s settings are distinctly contemporary. She writes about sitting at a computer gazing into the Microsoft Windows; her poems are full of supermarkets, printing cartridges, TV, the environment; she considers applying make-up, drinking alone, falling asleep to the sounds of films in the next room.
Tatiana Shcherbina is one of a generation of Russians who have been to travel frequently in Europe. She has lived in France – and sometimes writes in French – and her Russian poetry is filled with an awareness of other ‘European’ culture. She has even been criticised for a supposedly anti-Russian stance, yet she understands absolutely what is happening in Russia and is in no way an outsider. Hers is also the stance of a woman challenging Russia’s patriarchal and chauvinist society. However, Tatiana Shcherbina’s poetry is not primarily political, but literary, and she shows great versatility in different forms and genres. Her playfully meditative essays form the perfect counterpoint to her sophisticated and self-aware poetry.