The remarkable story of seven contemporary Russian-language poets whose experimental work anchors a thriving dissident artistic movement opposed to both Putin’s regime and Western liberalism.
What does leftist art look like in the wake of state socialism? In recent years, Russian-language avant-garde poetry has been seeking the answers to this question. Marijeta Bozovic follows a constellation of poets at the center of a contemporary literary movement that is bringing radical art out of the Soviet shadow: Kirill Medvedev, Pavel Arseniev, Aleksandr Skidan, Dmitry Golynko, Roman Osminkin, Keti Chukhrov, and Galina Rymbu. While their formal experiments range widely, all share a commitment to explicitly political poetry. Each one, in turn, has become a hub in a growing new-left network across the former Second World.
Joined together by their work with the Saint Petersburg–based journal [Translit], this circle has staunchly resisted the Putin regime and its mobilization of Soviet nostalgia. At the same time, the poets of Avant-Garde Post– reject Western discourse about the false promises of leftist utopianism and the superiority of the liberal world. In opposing both narratives, they draw on the legacies of historical Russian and Soviet avant-gardes as well as on an international canon of Marxist art and theory. They are also intimately connected with other artists, intellectuals, and activists around the world, collectively restoring leftist political poetry to global prominence.
The avant-garde, Bozovic shows, is not a relic of the Soviet past. It is a recurrent pulse in Russophone—as well as global—literature and art. Charged by that pulse, today’s new left is reimagining class-based critique. Theirs is an ongoing, defiant effort to imagine a socialist future that is at once global and egalitarian.
Marijeta Bozovic has written the definitive study of avant-garde poetry’s role in the leftist resistance movement that has long stood opposed to the Putin regime. Her command of twentieth- and twenty-first-century poetry and politics is extraordinary.
An informative introduction to two recent generations of aesthetically inventive Russian-language poets, whose works embrace both a politics of resistance to authoritarianism and agitation for social and economic liberation. Writing in the wake of Dragomoshchenko and Prigov, the radical poets at the center of this book are brilliant and necessary voices, who we need to hear all the more in this time of crisis for Russian culture.
Brilliant and essential. With dazzling insights and vibrant, compelling prose, Bozovic captures the political-aesthetic energy, urgency, and vitality of post-Soviet radical poetics. Her account is at once a literary history of this new movement, a portrait of seven major poets, and a theorization of a new tendency in Russian poetics. It is not only the most important book on post-Soviet poetry, but also the best book I have read on post-Soviet Russia as such. At the same time, it makes a crucial contribution to broader debates about the possibilities for transformative, leftist art across the world.
Avant-Garde Post– is an incisive study of the most intriguing leftist poets working in and around Russia today. Informed by years of research in close contact and partnership with the authors themselves, Bozovic’s work explains how they have renovated traditions of engaged, experimental, and revolutionary culture for a new era. Her examination of these figures, who have worked in opposition to the Putin regime for decades, could not be more timely.
- 320 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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