The Voice Over


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Table of Contents

Bibliographic Note
Introduction. "Speaking in Voices": On Maria Stepanova's Literary Creation, by Irina Shevelenko
Part I: The Here-World
A Gypski, a Polsk I, a Jewski, a Russki
The North of sleep. Head's in a pillow cradle
Ahoy! Beyond the azure's tempest
Adieu, until one branched floor higher
For you, but the voice of the straitened Muse
The Bride
The Pilot
The morning sun arises in the morning
As Danae, prone in the incarce-chamber
It is certainly time to stop
Even bluer than the toilet tiles
(a birthday on the train)
(half an hour on foot)
July 3rd, 2004
The Women's Locker Room at "Planet Fitness"
Sarah on the Barricades
The Desire to Be a Rib
Bus Stop: Israelitischer Friedhof
Zoo, Woman, Monkey
Part II: Displaced Person
And a vo-vo-voice arose
In the festive sky, impassivable, tinfurled
Saturday and Sunday burn like stars
In every little park, in every little square
Mom-pop didn't know him
Mama, what janitor
A train rides down entire Russia
Ordnance was weeping in the open
The A went past, Tram-Traum
Well I don't sing Kupitye papirosn
The light swells and pulses at the garden gate
In the village, in the field, in the forest
A deer, a deer stood in that place
The last songs are assembling
My dear, my little Liberty
There he lies in his new bed, a band of paper round his head
Don't wait for us, my darling
Don't strain your sight
Four Operas
In Unheard-of Simplicity
Displaced Person
Part III: Spolia
War of the Beasts and the Animals
Today Before Yesterday (excerpt)
After the Dead Water
Intending to Live
At the Door of a Notnew Age
Part IV: Over Venerable Graves
The Maximum Cost of Living (Marina Tsvetaeva)
Conversations in the Realm of the Dead (Lyubov Shaporina)
What Alice Found There (Alisa Poret)
The Last Hero (Susan Sontag)
From That Side: Notes on Sebald
Over Venerable Graves

About the Author

Maria Stepanova is the author of over ten poetry collections as well as three books of essays and the documentary novel In Memory of Memory. She is the recipient of several Russian and international literary awards.

Irina Shevelenko is professor of Russian in the Department of German, Nordic, and Slavic at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

With translations by: Alexandra Berlina, Sasha Dugdale, Sibelan Forrester, Amelia Glaser, Zachary Murphy King, Dmitry Manin, Ainsley Morse, Eugene Ostashevsky, Andrew Reynolds, and Maria Vassileva.


2021 is the year of Stepanova. * The Guardian *
Stepanova's voice is a multipotent anthology of epic, lyric, and pure spell. She turns myth back into memory, heroes into humans, and her country's rush from one catastrophe to another into language. No translator who reads Stepanova's work thinks, 'I can do this.' This is a book prepared by people who believed in a poetic miracle and this miracle happened-to the English language above all. -- Valzhyna Mort, author of Music for the Dead and Resurrected
A volume of Maria Stepanova's work in English translation is long overdue, but this one, rendered by a dream team of the best translators and poets working today, has been worth the wait. The Voice Over offers a worthy tribute to Stepanova's multiple achievements: a rich selection of texts from Stepanova's poetry and translations of Stepanova's essays, both illuminated by Irina Shevelenko's expert introduction and commentary, framing Stepanova's writing with sophistication and insight. -- Kevin M. F. Platt, founder of Your Language My Ear translation symposium
Maria Stepanova is among the most visible figures in post-Soviet culture. * Los Angeles Review of Books *
[Stepanova's] work is defined by fluent phrases expressing complex thoughts, the fusing of different styles, a carefree command of all possible metrical feet, and a great sense of empathy. * Poetry International *
Stepanova's brilliance is matched only by her legendary difficulty. Rather than write in free verse, she sticks to the metric strictures of classic syllabotonic Russian poetry and fills traditional forms with a dizzying mix of references and registers, drawing on everything from Slavic folklore to social media. * Poetry Magazine *
Stepanova is finally receiving the attention she deserves in the Anglophone world. Subtle and erudite in its treatment of politics and history, her work is a much-needed antidote to the crude depictions of Russia that have filled the English-language media in recent years. * Harper's Magazine *
Each book [The Voice Over, In Memory of Memory, and War of the Beasts and the Animals] casts light on the others, revealing overlapping themes. Their simultaneous appearance gives English-speaking readers a singular opportunity to become familiar with a major Russian poet and thinker. * Times Literary Supplement *
This ambitious collection provides English-language readers with a systematic introduction to the work of one of Russia's most important contemporary poets . . . [The] explicit discussion of translation strategies within the volume will give readers a great deal to think about and highlights current trends and points of debate in literary translation. The translations included in this volume are of very high quality and might together make a wonderful primer for a course in literary translation. * World Literature Today *

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