“It is easy to hate…”

To E.S.

It’s easy to hate Russia from Latvia.
It’s easy to hate Russia from America.
It’s more or less easy to hate Russia from some parts of Ukraine,
But from Crimea or Donbass it’s not so easy.
It’s relatively easy to hate Russia from Moscow.
It’s a lot less easy from Perm or Omsk,
Where they entertain locals with life-sized model gallows.
It’s not easy at all to hate Russia on a hunger strike in Labytnangi
prison.
Your head spins, weakness overpowers,
your fingers tingle, touch is numb.
Your thirst is too great for water to quench

 

Translated from the Russian by Michael Wachtel, Charles Bernstein, Leonid Schwab, Katherine O’Connor, and James McGavran as part of the Your Language My Ear 2019 symposium http://web.sas.upenn.edu/yourlanguagemyear/ Please see translator biographies at http://web.sas.upenn.edu/yourlanguagemyear/participant-bios-2019/

*

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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