Original poems | Translations of Marina Tsvetaeva
Publication date: 6/13/2020
"Tsvetaeva and Kossman: the ecstatic torment of souls that sing."
"Nina Kossman’s insightful translation of Marina Tsvetaeva creates a unique verbal mirror in which the translator has discovered her own lyrical voice as a bilingual poet."
"'The sea is a postcard,' writes Nina Kossman. There is both something elemental in this vision and—iron-tough. Kossman's poetics are very much in conversation with Tsvetaeva’s dictum to 'To live as I write: tersely.' … We need, Kossman tells us, to 'learn to see / without eyes,' perhaps because we must 'get used to death / before it’s here.' This is a beautiful, honest book."
"Direct, strong, audible translations ... I hear Tsvetaeva's voice, more of it, and in a new pitch, which makes something clear in her poems that I had only guessed at before."
—W. S. Merwin
"Intensely eloquent translations which capture the doom-eager splendor of a superbly gifted poet."
NINA KOSSMAN is a Moscow-born poet, painter, sculptor, bilingual writer, translator of Russian poetry, and playwright. Her English short stories and poems have been published in US, Canadian, British, and Dutch journals. Her Russian prose and poems have been published in major Russian literary journals. Among her published books are two books of poems in Russian and English as well as two volumes of translations of Marina Tsvetaeva’s poems. Her other books include Behind the Border (HarperCollins, 1994), a collection of stories about her Moscow childhood; Gods and Mortals: Modern Poems on Classical Myths (Oxford University Press anthology, 2001); a bilingual collection of short stories about her teaching; and a novel originally published in English, later translated into Russian. She lives in New York.
MARINA TSVETAEVA is one of Russia’s greatest 20th century poets. Born in Moscow in 1892, she came into artistic maturity at the outset of the Russian revolution. She followed her husband into exile in 1922, thus most of her great work was written in the West – first in Berlin, then in Prague, and finally in Paris. When she returned to the Soviet Union in 1939, her husband was arrested as an “enemy of the people” and shot, her daughter was arrested, too. Tsvetaeva took her own life in Elabuga, a small town in the Republic of Tatarstan, shortly after she had been evacuated from Moscow following the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, in 1941.