Anzhelina Polonskaya consciously guards her outsider status, choosing to live not in Moscow itself, but in Malakhovka, where she was born in 1969, some thirty miles from the center of the city, a peaceful enclave far from the daily squabbles of Moscow literary life. As often as she can, she escapes from the oppressive social and political atmosphere of Russia, and, taking advantage of a number of prestigious residencies, creates the bulk of her work while abroad, following a Russian tradition of using both internal and external exile (in this case self-imposed) to fuel creativity. Polonskaya’s newer work for the most part eschews narrative, and is far more visual in nature. It can almost be described as pictorial; surely it is no accident that Paul Klee’s Boat contains a number of poems that directly refer to individual works of art, although in most (but not all) cases these are not ekphrastic descriptions of the work, but rather evocations of the mood produced by seeing it.


Anzhelina Polonskaya began to write poems seriously at the age of eighteen. Between 1995 and 1997 she lived in Latin America, working as a professional ice dancer. Her first book of verses Svetoch Moi Nebesny (My Heavenly Torch) appeared in 1993. In 1998, the Moscow Writer’s Publishing House published her second book, entitled Verses. Since 1998, she has been a member of the Moscow Union of Writers. In 1999, her book The Sky in a Private’s Eye was published. In September 1999, this book was presented at the First International Festival of Poets in Moscow, and, in October 1999, at an international poetry festival/conference at Northwestern University (Chicago, USA). In 2002, her book Golos (A Voice) was published in Moscow, and in 2003, Polonskaya became a member of the Russian PEN-centre. In 2004, an English version of her book, entitled A Voice, appeared in the acclaimed “Writings from an Unbound Europe” series at Northwestern University Press.


Andrew Wachtel is the president of the American University of Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Previously he was dean of The Graduate School and director of the Roberta Buffett Center for International and Comparative Studies at Northwestern University. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and the author of numerous publications, he is also a translator from Russian, Bosnian/Croation/Serbian and Slovene. He translated Anzhelina Polonskaya’s previous collection, A Voice (Northwestern UP, 1995).

Paul Klee's Boat, by Anzhelina Polonskaya

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  • Paul Klee's Boat
    Anzhelina Polonskaya
    from Russian by Andrew Wachtel
    ISBN 978-0-9832970-7-9 (paper)
    5.25 x 8
    160 pages


    Paul Klee’s Boat, Anzhelina Polonskaya’s [latest book], is an emotional journey through the bleakest seasons of the human soul, translated with great nuance by Andrew Wachtel… a vital addition to the contemporary poetry canon, a collection as interesting as it is touching that will inevitably be remembered for years to come. [full review]
    —Will Evans, Three Percent