Colloquium by Polina Barskova, Hampshire College: Poetics of Continuity and Destruction: Discovery of the Next Generation of The OBERIU Poets (1941-1942)
‘Poetics of Continuity and Destruction: Discovery of the Next Generation of The OBERIU Poets (1941-1942)’
April 17, 2013: 5.15pm
Pigott Hall (Building 260), Room 216
Amidst the vast yet primarily unstudied map of cultural production during the Siege, a unique place belongs to the poets of the Leningrad Avant-Garde, who continued the tradition of the group of Absurdist poets who called themselves OBERIU. While the members of OBERIU themselves—Aleksandr Vvedensky, Daniil Kharms, Nikolai Oleinikov and Konstantin Vaginov—all perished in the purges before the Siege, it is their disciples—Gennadii Gor, Pavel Zal'tzman, Dmitrii Maksimov, and Sergey Rybakov—who aimed to use the poetics of Absurdism to describe the horrific realities of life in the besieged city: deterioration of the dystrophic personality, the sublime cityscape, and the atrocious forms of the violence in the city, including cannibalism. Their work could not be published for decades following the Siege, and it is only now resurfacing in publication. It has already found strong cultural resonance and offered new directions for reconsidering the canon of Russian Modernism in the Soviet context. The younger OBERIU group of the Siege created a unique case for the continuity of trans-sense poetic language while they assigned it it radically new historical tasks, including that of reflecting the mechanisms of aphasia that became structurally significant for the Siege language of trauma.
POLINA BARSKOVA is an Assistant Professor of Russian literature at Hampshire College. Born in Leningrad in 1976, she published her first collection of poems in 1991, was a finalist for the 2000 Debut Prize, and has had poems translated into English for literary journals, anthologies, and two solo volumes. Two volumes of her poetry have been translated into English, including The Zoo in Winter: Selected Poems, in 2011. Barskova’s scholarship explores the mythologies of cultural production during the Siege of Leningrad (1941-1944). Her articles on this subject have been published in Slavic Review, Ab Imperio, Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie, and Neprikosnovennyi Zapas. She holds a B.A. from the Classics Department of Saint Petersburg State University and a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley.