A Life Replaced
Original poems | Translations of Anna Akhmatova and Vladimir Gandelsman
Haunted by exile, longing for linkages between past and present, Olga Livshin’s A Life Replaced is a collection of poetry that wants to spread a “blanket of wild buckwheat / over a meadow”—and does just that. What is the meadow of this book? It is memory, both personal and collective, bringing voices of many poets, spoken through the same mouth to us in English: “it is summer everywhere, except war.” Livshin is in conversation with two poetic masters, our contemporary Vladimir Gandelsman, and a great 20th century poet Anna Akhmatova.
Publication date: 6/25/2019
"Olga Livshin has braided her own poems with her superb translations of Akhmatova and Gandelsman, poets she describes as 'ecstatic voices.' Livshin's voice, too, is ecstatic--and unflinching, and loving, and full of earned wisdom. In poem after poem, Livshin, who immigrated to the US from Russia as a child, acknowledges the two Americas she knows firsthand: the one that fears and demonizes, and the one that welcomes. A Life Replaced is astonishingly beautiful, intelligent, and important."
"This is a book that lays all its cards on the table. We see poetic influences, yes. We see conversations, yes. But we also see the music of play, both textual and mundane, play that allows others to enter and tango and transform. This a strange book--hauntingly beautiful and unforgettable."
"What a blazing book! Fiery and original, its originality rooted partly in its passionate indebtedness. Olga Livshin has created her own genetic strands from the poems of Anna Akhmatova, Vladimir Gandelsman, and the Russian and English languages. Her passionate lyrics blend wit, sorrow, fury, mother love, and eros in lines at once tender, savage, and scarred by history."
"In this sensuous, funny, dark, and tender collection, Livshin documents her life as a Russian-American, American-Russian, an immigrant, a Jew, grappling with memory, home, exile, and survival amidst violent times, braided with the worlds of the interlocutors she translates. In reply to Anna Ahkmatova, and to all of us, Livshin implores: 'This century is worse than those before it. Change something.'"
- Nomi Stone
"A Life Replaced is a true literary hybrid, a book-conversation in which Livshin's original poetry and her translations call to one another, blurring the borders between centuries, countries, and languages. Daring and tender, unapologetically political and deeply personal, it is a timely reminder of what it means to be an immigrant."
OLGA LIVSHIN is a Russian-American poet, translator, and essayist. She grew up in Odessa and Moscow before coming to San Diego as a teenager. Her work has been recognized by CALYX journal’s Lois Cranston Memorial Prize and the Cambridge Sidewalk Poetry Project. Livshin’s poems, translations, and essays are published in The Kenyon Review, Poetry International, and Modern Poetry in Translation, and her poems were translated into Persian by Mohsen Emadi. She holds a PhD in Slavic Languages and Literature and
taught full time at the university level before focusing on her poetry and translation. She lives outside Philadelphia, where she teaches creative writing and parents the poet Nathan Janco (seven years old at the date of publication).
ANNA AKHMATOVA (1899-1966) was one of the most important Russian poets of the twentieth century and was short listed for the
Novel Prize in 1965. A prominent figure in the avant garde of the 1910s and 1920s, the subject of much admiration and portraiture, she devoted much of her early poetry to the nuances of love relationships in her short, minimalistic poems. Her later poetry, such as Requiem, a long narrative poem about the imprisonment of her son in Stalin’s labor camps, joins the lyric with the epic and the personal with the political. Akhmatova served as a model for many American feminist poets in the 1960s and 1970s.
VLADIMIR GANDELSMAN (b. 1948) is the 2011 recipient of Russia’s highest award for poetry, the Moscow Reckoning. Born in
Leningrad, he has lived near New York and St. Petersburg since 1991. He is the author of thirteen poetry collections, a verse novel
and a collection of essays, and has received several prestigious awards in Russia. English translations of his work have appeared in Modern Poetry in Translation, Notre Dame Review, The Common, and The Massachusetts Review. He has also translated authors ranging from Shakespeare to Wallace Stevens, and Louise Glück to Dr. Seuss into Russian.