Readings by Robert Chandler
14th May 2015
Received from one of our members:
http://www.pushkinhouse.org/events (and scroll down!)
LEV OZEROV (1914 –96): A MINIATURE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SOVIET CULTURE
One of our most exciting discoveries, while we were compiling THE PENGUIN BOOK of Russian poetry, was the work of Lev Ozerov. A brave and honourable poet, translator, editor and teacher throughout his long career, Ozerov achieved true greatness in his last decade.
Portraits without Frames, first published only posthumously, comprises fifty accounts, told in a variety of tones and with deceptive simplicity, of meetings with important figures, many – though not all – from the literary world. One poem tells how Yevgenia Taratuta, an editor of children’s literature, kept her sanity during brutal interrogations by reciting Pushkin and Mayakovsky to herself. Ozerov writes with compassion not only about such great and courageous writers as Varlam Shalamov but also about such writers as Fadeyev, a Soviet literary boss who shot himself when Stalin’s crimes, and his own complicity, began to be exposed under Khrushchev. Among the subjects of other ‘portraits’ are Babel, Platonov, Shostakovich, Tatlin, Kovpak (a Ukrainian partisan leader) and the ballet dancer Galina Ulanova. One poem tells of Slutsky’s generosity in making his room available to couples who had nowhere to sleep together; one evening he returns home to find a note: ‘Boris, / you are a great humanist, / and the heavenly powers / will reward you. The sins of others, / sins that are not yours, / will bring you blessings.’
I shall read both poems by Ozerov himself and poems by the subjects of his portraits – including Akhmatova, Pasternak and Shalamov. A few poems will also be read in Russian.
A review of our anthology can be found here:
All the best,