The Ministry of Hot Water
has posted an opening: Director.
Well, why not, we can take that on.
We’ve got the sleigh all harnessed to go,
the blades are greased with oil,
the dogs are raring to go.
Our compatriots will send us off: “Lead us well,” they say,
“and may the bubbling, airy, and fiery elements prevail.”

But the temperature drops.
The birds find it hard to fly.
Space is slowly squeezing itself into a cone.
A racing electron stumbles.
Still, if our native land calls us to attention, asks us for endurance,
we will arise and stand forth, responding to her all-penetrating voice.

petrova_byDmitry Kuzmin_80.jpgAlexandra Petrova (b. 1964) was born in Leningrad, and has lived in Tartu, Jerusalem, and Rome, where she lives now. Her books of poetry in Russian include Broken Line (1994), Residence Permit (2000), and Only the Trees (2007), and a philosophical operetta, Dolly’s Shepherds (2004). Her poems have been translated into Italian, Hebrew, Serbian, and, most recently, Portuguese. (Author photo by Dmitry Kuzmin.)

Stephanie Sandler teaches in the Slavic Department at Harvard University and writes about Russian poetry and film. Her translations of contemporary poets have appeared in Jacket, Circumference, and several anthologies; with Genya Turovskaya, she translated The Russian Version by Elena Fanailova. It won the Three Percent Best Translated Poetry Book for 2009.

Translator’s Recommendations:

Today I Wrote Nothing: Selected Poems by Daniil Kharms.

This Lamentable City by Polina Barskova.

Souls of the Labadie Tract by Susan Howe.

Homepage photo via Flickr by gomattolson

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