Writers in Dialogue: 2020 Russian Poetry Translation

At a time when international travel has become nearly impossible, the next iteration of Writers in Dialogue fosters a connection between American and Russian literary scenes through online communication, textual translation, and a digital workshop. PEN America’s Eurasia program—together with PEN Moscow and PEN Saint Petersburg—identified seven emerging and undertranslated Russian poets, while Russian American poet and professor Polina Barskova and the PEN Translation Committee selected seven American translators for the project.

Placed into carefully chosen pairs, each duo is collaborating on translations of the Russian poet’s work into English, which will be published in the United States in the spring. The works will also be discussed and presented while in-progress; this workshop hosted by Barskova will offer some insight into the mind-boggling challenges of poetry translation. With support from the Harriman Institute at Columbia University, this project seeks to promote contemporary Russian poetry among American readers and to introduce new poetry and poetics to an American audience. The workshop is only open to students at Columbia University.

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Poet Duos

Ainsley Morse and Maria Galina

Ainsley Morse headshotAinsley Morse is a translator of both Russian and former Yugoslav literature. Currently a professor at Dartmouth College, Morse’s previous publications include translations of Vsevolod Nekrasov, Andrey Egunov, and Yuri Tynianov. Most recently, she co-edited F-Letter, an anthology of contemporary Russian feminist poetry (isolarii, 2020).

Maria Galina headshotMaria Galina, a marine biologist by training, started publishing fiction in the mid-’90s under the nom de plume Maxim Golitsyn. Since the early 2000s, she has published more than a dozen works of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Her works have been shortlisted for countless prizes, including the Apollon Grigoriev Prize. A member of the jury for genre awards, Galina also writes criticism about fantasy, futurological fiction, science fiction, and hyperfiction. Her fiction work is translated into Polish, French, English, Italian, Estonian, Hungarian, and Ukrainian. Her poetry is translated into English, Slovak, Hungarian, and Ukrainian.

Catherine Ciepiela and Alexandra Tsibulya

Catherine Ciepiela headshotCatherine Ciepiela researches modern Russian literature with an emphasis on poetry. With expertise in Russian modernism, Marina Tsvetaeva, and poetry in translation, Ciepiela teaches and is affiliated with Russian studies, European studies, and creative writing at Amherst College. Her translations of Marina Tsvetaeva and Polina Barskova have been widely published.

Alexandra Tsibulya headshotAlexandra Tsibulya is a poet and literary critic. A resident of Saint Petersburg, she currently works at the State Hermitage Museum. In 2014, after winning the Russian Gulliver Prize, she published Puteshestvie na Krai Krovi (Journey to the Edge of Blood), and in 2015, won the Arkady Dragomoshchenko Prize for young Russophone poets. She has participated in the Runokuu Poetry Festival in Helsinki (2015), the sound art and video art festival Poetronics in Moscow, and the Seoul International Writers’ Festival (2019), among other events. Her poetry is translated into English, Italian, Korean, and Finnish.

Anna Halberstadt and Oksana Vasyakina

Anna Halberstadt headshotAnna Halberstadt is a poet and translator from Russian and Lithuanian. Her creative work in English has been published in countless journals, including Forge, Lilith, and Permafrost, and in two collections. Translations of her poems have appeared in Lithuanian literary journals; her poetry in Russian and her translations from Lithuanian have also been widely published. A two-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize, Halberstadt has also written about psychology. She is the guest editor of The Cafe Review’s 2019 and 2020 special Russian issues.

Oksana Vasyakina headshotOksana Vasyakina is a poet, activist, artist, and curator who lives in Moscow. Her first book, Prosa zhenshin (Women’s Prose), was shortlisted for both the Andrei Bely Prize and the Arkady Dragomoshchenko Award in 2016. Most recently, she won the Moskovskij Schet Prize and the Liceum Prize, and in 2019 published Veter yarosti (Wind of Rage), a book about trauma, violence, and love. Her novel-length poem “The Wound” is being prepared for publication in the publishing house Novoye Literaturnoye Obozreniye (New Literary Review). Vasyakina’s poems have been translated into English, Spanish, and Italian.

Elina Alter and Ivan Sokolov

Elina Alter headshotElina Alter edits Circumference, a biannual journal of poetry, translation, and culture. Her work, including her acclaimed translations of Alla Gorbunova, has appeared in BOMB, The Paris Review’s “The Daily,” and Modern Poetry in Translation, among other publications. Alter studied at the New York University Gallatin School of Individualized Study and received an MFA in fiction and translation at Columbia University. She is a former ALTA Travel Fellow.

Ivan Sokolov headshotIvan Sokolov is a critic, translator, and poet. Currently a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, Sokolov has written four books of poetry. He translated the poetry of Natalia Azarova into English and countless classics into Russian, including Oranges by Frank O’Hara—his translation of which was shortlisted for the Nora Gal Prize. He has been a resident at Villa Sarkia (Finland, 2015) and the Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators (Sweden, 2019), a participant in the 2015 Russian and German poetic project “VERSschmuggel,” and a member of the editorial team for GRYOZA (Vision). Sokolov was also a finalist for the Arkady Dragomoshchenko Prize in 2016.

Kevin Platt and Ekaterina Simonova

Kevin Platt headshotKevin Platt is a translator and scholar of Russian history, Russian historiography, and Russian lyric poetry. Platt is the organizer of “Your Language My Ear,” a periodic Russian-English poetry translation symposium at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is a professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures and a chair of the Comparative Literature Program. He has edited and contributed translations to Orbita: The Project, Hit Parade: The Orbita Group, and F-Letter, as well as collections of work by Anna Akhmatova and Osip Mandelstam.

Ekaterina Simonova headshotEkaterina Simonova is a poet from Nizhny Tagil, where she lived until 2013. Now in Ekaterinburg, Simonova has published works in many Russian language anthologies and literary magazines, including Contemporary Ural Poetry 1997-2003, Vozdukh (The Air), and Novy Mir (New World). She has published six books of poetry and has repeatedly been the victor of the Ural and Siberian festivals “Novy Transit” (“New Transit”). Simonova also was shortlisted for Andrei Bely Prize in 2020.

Tyler James Green and Evgeniya Lavut

Tyler Green headshotTyler James Green is a poet, translator, and educator who lives in New York City. He has previously translated from the poetic works of Varlam Shalamov, as well as the visual poems of Dmitri Prigov.

Evgeniya Lavut headshotEvgeniya Lavut is a Russian poet, editor, and translator. A former coeditor of the online literary magazine Textonly, she has written three books of poetry. Lavut has also curated a number of projects, including two festivals of Russian and Georgian art. Since graduating from Moscow State University’s Department of Romance and Germanic Languages, Lavut has also worked as a journalist and as an English language teacher.

Valeriya Yermishova and Nikita Sungatov

Valeriya Yermishova headshotValeriya Yermishova is a Russian and French to English translator based in the New York City area. She holds an MA in translation from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS). She is the translator of Viktor Shklovsky’s Life of a Bishop’s Assistant and Sergey Kuznetsov’s The Round-Dance of Water and teaches in the MA in Translation and Interpreting Program at Hunter College.

Nikita Sungatov headshotNikita Sungatov is a poet and a coeditor of Translit, an influential literary journal based in Saint Petersburg. A graduate of the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute, Sungatov was shortlisted for the 2015 Arkady Dragomoshchenko Prize, where he is now a member of the curatorial team. His book, Debutnaya kniga molodogo poeta (The Debut Book of the Young Poet), was published in 2015, and his poetry and criticism have been published in Vozdukh, syg.ma, and elsewhere.

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