Maria Stepanova interviews & reviews
The first full English-language edition of Maria Stepanova's poetry, War of the Beasts and the Animals, was published by Bloodaxe on 25 March. It was launched in the UK by Maria and her translator Sasha Dugdale at StAnza International Poetry Festival on 13 March and at a joint online event hosted by Bloodaxe Books on 23 March 2021. It is a Poetry Book Society Translation Choice. War of the Beasts and the Animals will be distributed in North America from 4 May 2021 by Consortium Books.
Maria Stepanova is one of Russia’s most innovative and exciting poets and thinkers, and founding editor of Colta.ru, an independent arts and culture website which has been compared to Huffington Post in its status and importance. Her meta-memoir In Memory of Memory (Fitzcarraldo Editions) was published on 17 February, followed by War of the Beasts and the Animals on 25 March. Both are translated by poet and Russian specialist Sasha Dugdale. In Memory of Memory is on the shortlist for the 2021 International Booker Prize. A feature in The Guardian about the shortlist announcement of 22 April 2021 is here.
INTERVIEWS WITH MARIA STEPANOVA IN THE GUARDIAN and in POETRY
A profile of Maria Stepanova ran in The Guardian of 11 February 2021.
‘Stepanova’s poetry collection War of the Beasts and the Animals was written in 2014 and 2015, during Russia’s conflict with Ukraine... What emerges is another archive of sorts, a home for language’s changing and motley complexion.’ – Matthew Janney, The Guardian
Read the interview here.
Maria Stepanova was interviewed by Jennifer Wilson for a feature in Poetry magazine and on the Poetry Foundation website. This covers all three of Maria Stepanova's works recently translated into English: War of the Beasts and the Animals from Bloodaxe, her meta-memoir In Memory of Memory from Ftzcarraldo in the UK and New Directions in the US, and her book of essays, The Voice Over, from Columbia University Press.
‘The slipperiness of history and the improvisational quality of historical thinking are hallmarks of her work, which will likely resonate with new audiences in the United States, riven by racism and culture war skirmishes, and in a Britain still reeling from Brexit.’ – Jennifer Wilson, Poetry
'Maria Stepanova, one of Russia's greatest living poets, comes to America': read the feature here.
The Observer, Poetry Book of the Month, Sunday 11 April 2021
Maria Stepanova’s War of the Beasts and the Animals, the first full English translation of her poetry and a Poetry Book Society Translation Choice, was featured as Poetry Book of the Month in The Observer – very unusually for a translation. The piece was accompanied by an extract from Stepanova’s 2018 long poem ‘The Body Returns’ from the final section of War of the Beasts and the Animals.
‘Stepanova’s poetry is porous. Were it a fabric, it would be complete with rents through which darkness – and truth – might leak…. Stepanova is a powerhouse. Her scornful wit is bracing and, throughout, the reader is on a switchback: you never know what waits around the next bend.’ – Kate Kellaway, The Observer (on War of the Beasts and the Animals, her Poetry Book of the Month)
War of the Beasts and the Animals was reviewed in The Observer alongside Maria Stepanova’s International Booker Prize-shortlisted meta-memoir In Memory of Memory, which is also translated by Sasha Dugdale.
Read the feature here.
The Guardian, Saturday 10 April 2021
Maria Stepanova’s War of the Beasts and the Animals was reviewed in brief at the beginning of a review of her meta-memoir In Memory of Memory in The Guardian of 10 April. This piece linked to The Guardian’s profile of Maria Stepanova from 11 February.
‘Bloodaxe has brought out a selection of poems, War of the Beasts and the Animals, translated by Sasha Dugdale. It will take a while for readers in the UK to learn how to take in these poems, crowded as they are with different voices and types, dense with allusions to Russian life and culture past and present, as well as to wider European literature and history. At first encounter they seem sensuous, haunted, significant, ambitious.’ – Tessa Hadley, The Guardian
Read the full review here.
DURA (Dundee University Review of the Arts), online 2 March 2021
A review of War of the Beasts and the Animals ran in DURA ahead of Maria Stepanova's launch reading with Sasha Dugdale at StAnza International Poetry Festival on 13 March 2021.
'The collection opens with two long poems; ‘Spolia’ and ‘War of the Beasts and the Animals’. Similar in form, they are both chaotic and deeply layered. In both poems, Stepanova sifts through language, culture and identity in an attempt to make sense of them all. She reaches no conclusions, but something fascinating is revealed in the attempt. In her poetry, Russia is a country torn apart and remade line by line, a patchwork of truth, myth and dogma stitched together with shreds of memory.' - Ellie Julings, DURA (Dundee University Review of the Arts)
Read the review here.
An extract from the title sequence and a video of Maria and Sasha’s Bloodaxe launch reading in Russian and English ran on Poetry Daily on 15 April. Read the feature here.
Bloodaxe Books launch, Tuesday 23 March 2021, Maria Stepanova (with Sasha Dugdale) and Pia Tafdrup
[13 April 2021]