Right now, the poet Shamshad Abdullaev, an ethnic Uzbek from town of Fergana in Uzbekistan, writes experimental poetry in Russian, rising out of Central Asian landscapes, however impressed by European avant-garde traditions, like this passage from his poem, “Finish of the Week: A Stroll With a Pal”:
So we got here out on the pockmarked sq. — so broad
the trail traversed is obvious, however the tough curve
of the clay-walled road with its sour-green moss cowl
and the soiled windblast that overtakes us
from the blind alley, as all the time, from behind,
have silenced the epic scrim, like Paris,
seen by Rousseau for the primary time
in its greasy, squawking grayness.
Abdullaev has received poetry prizes and fellowships in Russia, Germany, Italy, the US and elsewhere. His work addresses audiences internationally. Each intensely native and emphatically international, his writing in Russian bears no relation to the Russian state or the territories it seeks to assert.
Or contemplate this passage from a poem written final month by Boris Khersonsky, a Jewish poet from Odesa who writes primarily in Russian. This poem, whose title I’ve translated as “As In a Sport of Battleship, Their Victory Is on Paper,” was posted on Fb:
You’ve shed our blood. Smeared your self with blood.
You’d do higher to maintain rely of your personal brood.
Freely tossing males, like logs, within the conflagration.
You received’t wash the blood stains out of your mad technology.
Khersonsky, in fact, would possibly greatest be described as a Ukrainian poet. But his poetry types a part of a particular Russian tradition. That’s the crux of the matter.
That the world ought to be amplifying Ukrainian artwork and tradition is obvious. That is of the best precedence. But help for Ukrainian tradition doesn’t entail canceling Russian tradition. To undertake such a stance is to help a world of pernicious nationwide antagonisms and closed borders. That’s exactly the world that Mr. Putin seeks to create together with his struggle. We, together with right-minded Russians, ought to be working to withstand the reactive canceling of Russian artists and performances, quite than enjoying alongside.
Kevin M. F. Platt is a professor within the division of Russian and East European research on the College of Pennsylvania. He interprets modern Russian poetry and is the writer or editor of a number of books, together with, most lately, “Global Russian Cultures.”