fisheye sonnet

these fisheyes see right through folk to the full depth
they unfold the angle of vision to a straight line
with folk to the right folk to the left and folk ahead
one must navigate this viscous milieu slowly
pushing one’s way through the jelly of the folk
wherein the bottom relief is bizarrely refracted
and goads and tasers are bashfully concealed
these calm leadership fisheyes round out the line
of the horizon tucking the edges inward while
everything is dark abroad there’s no there there
light from the east cannot escape from its black hole
Einstein’s god is sophisticated but not malicious
folk are teeming most vigorously on all sides
and those fisheyes cannot be turned off nor away

Translated from the Russian by Philip Nikolayev


Dmitry Kuzmin is a poet, translator, editor and organizer of literary projects. He was born in Moscow in 1968. He has taught at various Russian educational institutions, and in 2014 was visiting professor of Russian poetry at Princeton University. Kuzmin co-authored the first Russian textbook of poetry. He is the founder of the publishing house Argo-Risk (1993), the site Vavilon (1997), and the journal Vozdukh. He has been editor of a number of anthologies, including one of contemporary Russian LGBT poetry. He headed the first almanac of Russian haiku, Triton, and the first journal of LGBT literature in Russia, RISK, and also created the online directory New Map of Literary Russia and the galleryFaces of Russian Literature. He was honored for his organizational work in 2002 with the Andrei Bely Prize. His 2008 collection of poetry and translations was recognized with the Moskovskii schet prize for best debut book of the year. His own poetry has been translated into fourteen languages. Kuzmin has translated into Russian Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Southern Mail, the works of the American poets e.e. cummings, Auden, Charles Reznikoff, C. K. Williams, as well as the works of Ukrainian, French, Belarusian, German, and Polish poets. Due to his opposition to the Russian political regime he has lived since 2014 in Latvia, where he has founded the Literature Without Borders project—an international poetry foundation and residency for translators of poetry. Since 2017, the project has been funding the Poetry Without Borders festival in Riga.


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