Andrei Sen-Senkov is the author of more than ten books of poetry and prose, as well as solo and collaborative publications/performances involving visual poetry and experimental music. He has also published translations of poetry and a children’s book of original fairy tales, A Cat Named Mouse. He is a regular participant in literary festivals in Russia and abroad. In 1998 he was an award-winner at the Turgenev Festival for Short Prose, and in 2006, 2008 and 2012 he was shortlisted for the Andrei Bely Prize. In the U.S., his work has been published in journals such as Aufgabe, Interim, Jacket, and Zoland Poetry, and anthologized in Crossing Centuries (Talisman).
Ainsley Morse has been translating 20th- and 21st-century Russian and (former-) Yugoslav literature since 2006. A longtime student of both literatures, she is currently writing a dissertation on unofficial Soviet-era literature at Harvard University. In addition to Anatomical Theater, she is the co-translator (with Bela Shayevich) of I Live I See: the Collected Poems of Vsevolod Nekrasov (UDP, 2013). Current translation projects include an anthology of Lianozovo poets and a collection of contemporary Russian experimental prose, as well as ongoing work with twentieth-century Yugoslav authors.
Peter Golub is a writer and translator living in San Francisco. He has published in Circumference, PEN America, and Playboy. He is a translator of contemporary Russian poetry and has worked on several anthologies, including the large online project The New Russian Poetry (Jacket 2). He has one book of poems, My Imagined Funeral (Argo Risk Press, 2007). He is the recipient of a PEN Translation Grant, and is an editor with St. Petersburg Review. The translation of this book was supported by a BILTC Translation Fellowship.
Anatomical Theater, by Andrei Sen-Senkov
from Russian by Ainsley Morse and Peter Golub
ISBN 978-0-983297-02-4 (paper)
6 x 8
208 pages [Bilingual Russian/English]
Sen-Senkov’s poetry has no hero in the obvious sense; although uttered in a voice that clearly has timbre and personal shading, we don’t know whose it is or where it is coming from. When you read deeply into this poetry, however, you realize that there is indeed a person behind this voice: one who perceives any and all cultural symbols as fractures in the universe, as ciphers and “sore spots” at the same time, which demand a vital reciprocal effort in order to overcome various historical traumas. Nothing gets the benefit of the doubt, but as soon as you begin to live out these symbols and myths, to fill them out through personal involvement, then everything begins to come together: the death of Heath Ledger, the story of how the constellations acquired meaning, reminiscences of childhood. One thing begins to resound with another, and it turns out that our hero is a person who doesn’t want to live in a fragmented reality. It’s fragmented, of course, but he strives again and again to see it as whole. This effort cannot be called heroic. That would be a profanation and a vulgarization; but this is an effort to make sense of the world, one that takes us beyond the heroic and non-heroic.
The omnivorous quality of Sen-Senkov’s roving eye is especially interesting in its relationship to history. Here is a poet constantly delving into human history; his engagement ranges as far back as prehistoric times, but circles back again and again to a few points of particular interest—in this collection, most notably the harrowed lives of early Christian martyrs and the endless upheaval of twentieth-century Europe. It is perhaps in this cyclical interrogation of the past, and ruminations on the consequences of inevitably repeated mistakes, that Sen-Senkov is most thoroughly a poet in the Russian tradition. Though his orientation is often markedly international, he could never reflect the legendary American forgetfulness of history: he gives us a Kraftwerk concert through the lens of the Soviet occupation of Nazi Germany, and a pack of Gitanes is enough to evoke a century of persecution by various peoples and governmental structures. At the same time, Sen-Senkov is not a political poet; he is a poet of description, and politics and history come to his attention as do Barbie dolls and soccer balls.
—from the Translator Introduction