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Initially published in hardcover in 1990, when the New York Times Book Review named it one of the fourteen “Best Books of the Year,” this paperback English-only edition has sold over 20,000 copies, making it one of the most successful poetry titles of recent years. This reissued printing features a biographical essay as well as notes to the poems, both by Roberta Reeder, project editor and author of Anna Akhmatova: Poet and Prophet (St. Martin's Press, 1994). Encyclopedic in scope, with more than 800 poems, 100 photographs, a historical chronology, index of first lines, and bibliography. The Complete Poems has become the definitive English language collection of Anna Akhmatova's poetry.


For a fuller history of how Zephyr came to publish this remarkable book, click here.


Judith Hemschemeyer began translating Anna Akhmatova's poems in 1976, and completed the first draft in 1981-82 with the assistance of a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University. Hemschemeyer won the 1986 Associated Writing Programs (AWP) Poetry Prize for her collection, The Ride Home, which was published in 1987 by Texas Tech University Press. Wesleyan University Press published her two previous collections, I Remember the Room Was Filled with Light (1973) and Very Close and Very Slow (1975). Her translations of Akhmatova have appeared in many journals, including The Hudson Review, PloughsharesCalyxStand, and Northwest Review. Hemschemeyer has also translated poems of Alexander Pushkin, Evgeny Rein, and Inna Lisnianskaya.


Roberta Reeder has been involved with Russian literature and culture for most of her life. She has taught at Harvard and Yale, and publishes articles, both here and abroad, on all aspects of Russian culture, and has created a dramatization of Akhmatova's great poem, “Requiem”. In 1994, Reeder published Anna Akhmatova: Poet and Prophet (St. Martin's Press), which the late Stephen Spender called “more than just an excellent biography. It gives a vividly rich picture of the lives of the Russian intelligentsia throughout this century, and reveals so much about the land of Russia. A marvelous book.” The paperback edition (1995) was named one of the best biographies of the year by the N.Y. Times Book Review.


Also available: The Selected Poems of Anna Akhmatova [Bilingual paperback edition, ISBN 0-939010-61-5]

The Complete Poems of Anna Akhmatova, by Anna Akhmatova

  • The Complete Poems of Anna Akhmatova
    Translated from Russian by Judith Hemschemeyer
    Edited and Introduced by Roberta Reeder
    ISBN 0-939010-27-5 (paper)
    6 x 9
    960 pages

  • Not only the most comprehensive, but also simply the best English translation ever of the great Russian poet.
    Reference & Research Book News


    Hemschemeyer's versions [are] in general excellent: accurate, unpretentious, and in the same straightforward and simple key as the original.
    —The New York Review of Books


    We needn't worry again about how to read Akhmatova in translation. The editorial apparatus, the preface and introduction, the inclusion of Isaiah Berlin's brilliant account of his meetings with the poet: all these create an impressive context. And the translations themselves are remarkable.
    The Observer [London]


    A feast.
    Irish Times

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