An interesting conference on post-Soviet literature

By Alexandra Smith (University of Edinburgh)

In the end of September I took part in a highly interesting conference on post-Soviet literature. It was titled in a provocative manner: «Decadence or Renaissance?» ( It was a very informative and enjoyable event that attracted many scholars and critics from the USA, Russia, Canada and UK as well as translators and writers, including such well-known figures as Irina Prokhorova, Mark Lipovetsky, Nina Kolesnikoff, Ilya Kukulin, Anna Ljunggren, Mikhail Shishkin, Zinovy Zinik and  Andrew Bromfield. It was very pleasing to hear several thoughtful presentations on Russian contemporary poetry. It was clear to me that Russian literary landscape became very diversified in the post-Soviet period and, as the case of Mikhail Shishkin demonstrates, it is not unusual for renown Russian writers to live in and out of Russia and become well established abroad as Russian authors writing in other European languages. As Mikhail Shishkin pointed out, his travelogues written in German were well received in Germany and in Switzerland. (A short report about the conference and my short interview with a journalist from Moscow – Olga Viktorova – appeared in “Nezavisimaia gazeta” on 10.11.2012)

I was also very pleased to see a special performance delivered by two prominent poets, writers and critics from Moscow: Marina Galina and Arkady Shtypel’ read their poems in the library located in the Russian and Eurasian Studies Centre, St Antony’s College. It was a lively and highly enjoyable performance. Following this performance, I have asked them to answer a few questions regarding today’s attitudes to the 20th-c. poetic canon. See the next post for their answers.

Short biographical notes:
MARIA GALINA, PhD, writer, poet and journalist, works at Novyi Mir, the oldest Russian literary journal, as deputy head of the department of criticism and social issues, and also writes for the journal as a reviewer and columnist. During the past two years she has been an invited professor at the Russian State University for the Humanities (RGGU), teaching contemporary poetry and contemporary science fiction. Her most recent novel Medvedki (Mole-Crickets) has been shortlisted for the Big Book Prize.

ARKADY SHTYPEL’, poet and literary commentator, lives in Moscow. His essays and reviews on modern poetry have been published in the literary journals NLO, Arion, Novyi Mir, and others. His volumes of poetry include Stikhi dlya golosa (Poems for a Voice, 2007).

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