I BURNED AT THE FEAST • Arseny Tarkovsky

Paperback / 232 pages
Cleveland State University Poetry Center / 2015

Poetry. Film. Translated from the Russian by Philip Metres and Dimitri Psurtsev. "Tarkovsky now joins the ranks of Mandelstam, Akhmatova, and Brodksky. Philip Metres and Dimitri Psurtsev's translations—succinct and allusive, stingingly direct and yet sweeping, mournful and celebratory—are marvels."—PEN/Heim citation

"How does one translate the work of Russian classic, Arseny Tarkovsky? Imagine trying to translate Yeats: high style rhetoric, intense emotion, local tonalities of language, complicated historical background, the old equation of poet vs. state, the tone of a tender love lyric, all meshed into one, all exquisite in its execution—and all so impossible to render again. And yet, one tries. In the case of Philip Metres and Dimitri Psurtsev, one tries brilliantly, with gusto, with passion, with attentiveness that is akin to that of a prayer, with the ear of real poets. The result? The gravity and directness of Tarkovsky's tone is brought into English without fail, it is here, honest and pained, piercing and even shy at times, like a deer that looks straight at you before it runs. Tarkovsky's ambition was to seek us—those who live after him—through earth, through time. He does so in this brilliant translation."—Ilya Kaminsky

"Arseny Tarkovsky was ten years old at the time of the Russian Revolution and died six months before the opening of the Berlin Wall. He spent his career as a poet creating elegant and starkly interior transfigurations of simple happiness and pure grief, triumphs of the individual self against the brutal realities of daily life in wartime and Communist Russia. Through this meticulous translation of his work, readers will encounter a metaphysical complex poetry, at once searing and brooding, very much in dialogue with such great Soviet poets as Osip Mandelstam and Anna Akhmatova. Tarkovsky writes of a country where 'we lived, once upon a time, as if in a grave, drank no tea' but still succeeded in making 'bread from weeds,' where the 'blue sky is dim' but nonetheless manages to be the 'wet-nurse of dragonflies and birds.'"—Michael Dumanis