In Praise of Poetry


by Olga Sedakova

December 16, 2014
poetry | pb | 237 pgs
5.5" x 8.5"

“Olga Sedakova is one of the most respected and internationally renowned poets in Russia today.”
—Slava Yastremski

At an early age, Olga Sedakova began writing poetry and, by the 1970s, had joined up with other members of Russia’s underground “second culture” to create a vibrant literary movement—one that was at odds with the political powers that be. This conflict prevented Sedakova’s books from being published in the U.S.S.R. Instead, they were labeled as being too “esoteric,” “religious,” and “bookish.” Until 1990, the only way her collections were available in Russian were in samizdat, hand-written copies, which circulated from reader to reader, building her reputation.

In the 1990s, the situation changed dramatically, and now Sedakova has published twenty-seven volumes of verse, prose, translations, and scholarly research—although none, until now, have appeared in English translation.

In Praise of Poetry is a unique introduction to her oeuvre, bringing together a memoir-essay written about her work, and two poetic works: “Tristan and Isolde,” which is one of her most mysterious long poems, and “Old Songs,” a sequence of deceptively simple poems that mix folk and Biblical wisdom. (Read an Excerpt)

Translated from the Russian and Edited by Caroline Clark, Ksenia Golubovich & Stephanie Sandler


About the Author: Olga Sedakova wrote prolifically during the 1970s, one of the “post-Brodsky” poets. Her complex, allusive style of poetry—generally labeled as neo-modernist or meta-realism—didn’t fit the prescribed official aesthetics, so it wasn’t available until the late 1980s. She currently teaches in the department of world culture at Moscow State University.

About the Translators: Caroline Clark is a British poet and essayist. She holds degrees from the Universities of Sussex and Exeter. 

Ksenia Gulobovich is a Russian writer, philologist, editor, and translator living in Moscow. 

Stephanie Sandler teaches Russian literature in the Slavic department at Harvard University. She co-transalted Elena Fanailova's The Russian Version, which wont the BTBA for poetry in 2010.