Three Russian Minimalist Poets: Ivan Akhmetyev, Mikhail Faynerman, and Alexander Makarov-Krotkov

IVAN AKHMETYEV

***

to L. Rubinshtein

What does it all mean?

Where will it all lead?

Where does it come from?

***

For we are like the tree
rooted in cracked cement
Its trunk will conserve the crack’s form

Not ours
to break through cement walls

the thing is to grow

1974

***

People stayed the same
those that stayed

***

Who is able
with precision and detail
to recite our happiness?

(Valery Popov)

***

there’s certainly
always
a way out

but I’m tired
of constantly
having to look for it

***

through my teeth
I thank you

***

certainly I’m
dissatisfied with myself
but far be it
with myself only

***

the winter was difficult

well
let’s say
fair but difficult

***

Our war for the Caucusus
lasted and lasted

Lermontov
Tolstoy

so we got ours
beria and dzhugashvilli

***

Chechnya my ass,
not Russia.

Now Byelorussia....

***

Khlebnikov – our father
Kharms – our teacher
Khristos – our Savior

***

poetry –
        most cost-effective occupation
pleasure – immense
expenses – there aren't any

________________________________________


MIKHAIL FAYNERMAN

***

The day is a cold one so that the sheep
huddle along the front wall of the house.
Inside it is warm while in the yard hangs
a cold vapor. It is a cold morning
in late autumn and it seems that
even the river turns toward us.

***

The trees tire of sleeping
and come to me nightly:
What are you mumbling?
Why are you not turning
the light off?

***

Some bird or other
is still screeching:
one past midnight.
A nail in the darkness.

That’s why last night
that bird was warbling:
morning, snow is melting:
the cold spell has broken.

***

Five o’clock in the evening,
three hours after midday:
the summer almost over,
autumn approaching.
Am I saddened? Not an inkling:
mountain shadow, smoke, evening...

(Compare with Issa

Strong autumn breezes!
Even the mountain’s shadow
trembles before him.)

***

in the yard
a cold fog, morning–
so tempting
to hug the branches...

***

The birds flying
higher than high
upon the islands
of the white sky.

***

Wet umbrellas,
a rain in April,
like a tiny bell
ringing and ringing.

***

High in the sky the sand martin.
Bigger than my house?
Smaller than my house?

***

Wind from that angle,
because it’s midday, hazy.
The twilight of our worries.

***

Sky filled with birds,
its name I can’t recall:
sky,
filled with birds.

***

The bullfinches have come back,
the bullfinches:
the air so transparent
it’s immediately clear it’s March
ending.
Listen,
God be with her, style, know what I’m saying.
Write what there is for us
in letters—
write: “to celebrate spring in Jerusalem,
on the hillsides, on the hillsides...”

________________________________________


ALEXANDER MAKAROV-KROTKOV

By the Sea

wind gusts caught
on the laundry wire
a ship mast–
time to take care
of the watermelon
or for the concerns
of sea gulls

***

the birth of a woman
takes place in a man’s heart

the birth of a man–
that’s an enigma


Measure of Distance

between sea and sky
one horizon only

***

I write verses
you write verses
he writes verses

we’re doing our communal duty

our country experiences
a shortage of paper

***

fixing the moments
the pauses between us–
exchange of carbon dioxide

***

I came here
I came to

***

rooted a tree
raised a house
brought a son up

tree struck by lightning
house inhabited by strange people
son an alcoholic
                God forgive me

***

how good to drink vodka
in any weather
good to know that time
ends on your deathbed
in reserve I still have tomorrow
into which you will enter


From Tallin Sketches

church spires trained at the heavens
you and I learn to walk the ground
hard as the crust of a stale bread loaf

***

(after D.A.P.)

a poet is generally a writer
inasmuch as he writes sometimes
and when he no longer writes
then he is definitely–a poet

28.04.2009

***

(in memoriam V. N. Nekrasov)

we live
and see

in sum total
that's about it

1.06.2009

Bios

Ivan Akhmetyev, Mikhail Faynerman, and Alexander Makarov-Krotkov

Ivan Akhmetyev, born in 1950, is the author of five books of poetry. Most of the work here is from Poems and Only Poems: Selected Poems, 1968-1992 (Vesy: Moscow, 1993). More recent poems have appeared in some of the foremost Russian poetry journals, including in Arion, Druzhba Narodov, NLO, and Novii Mir. His extensive contributions as a conservator and presenter include co-editing the poetry section of Samizdat Veka (Century of Samizdat) and the posthumous publications of Jan Satunovsky and Mikhail Sokovnin, among others. Please see his pages at Russkaya Virtualnaya Biblioteka and Vavilon.ru for Russian originals, essays, and Samizdat anthology.

Mikhail Faynerman was born in Moscow in 1946 and died in 2003 after a protracted and difficult illness. In parallel with his interest in Zen Buddhism and its literature, from the early 1970s he began to develop a poetic style unique in Russian, following in the tradition of such American poets as Ezra Pound, W. C. Williams, and Allen Ginsberg. His only published book was The Finch in Flight (Moscow: Geo, 1995).

Alexander Makarov-Krotkov was born in 1959. He began publishing in the samizdat, and in 1989, in such immigrant journals as Continent and Mulleta (Paris). Since then, his poems have appeared in Yunost’, Oktyabr’, Druzhba Narodov, Arion, Poezia (Moscow), Chernovik (New Jersey), Vitrila (Kiev), and Strelets (Paris), and in such anthologies as Young Poetry ‘89, Time X (1989), Anthology of Russian Verse Libre (1991), Strophi Veka (1995), Samizdat Veka (1997), and Poetry of Silence (1999). His work has been translated into English (Ireland, United States, Sri Lanka), Croatian, Czech, Chuvash, French, Georgian, German (Germany, Switzerland), Hungarian, Polish, Serbian, Slovak, Spanish (Mexico), and Ukrainian. He is the author of seven books of poetry, most recently Furthermore—Everywhere (Moscow: Mosizdatinvest, 2007). The originals of the poems appearing here may be found at Levin.rinet.ru. He blogs on Live Journal.

Alex Cigale

Alex Cigale's poems recently appeared in The Café Review, Colorado Review, Global City Review, Green Mountains Review, The North American Review, Gargoyle, Tar River Poetry, 32 Poems, and Zoland Poetry, and online in Contrary, Drunken Boat, H_ngm_n, and McSweeney's. He has poems forthcoming in Many Mountains Moving, Redactions, and St. Petersburg Review. His other translations can be found in Crossing Centuries: the New Generation in Russian Poetry, The Manhattan Review, The St. Ann's Review, and Yellow Medicine Review, online in Danse Macabre, and forthcoming in OffCourse, Ekleksographia, Sous Rature, Crab Creek Review, and Modern Poetry in Translation. He was born in Chernovsty, Ukraine, lives in New York City, and may be reached at cigalealex@aol.com.

Copyright (c) Ivan Akhmetyev, 1993, 2009.
Copyright (c) Mikhail Faynerman, 1995.
Copyright (c) Alexander Makarov-Krotkov, 1995, 2009.
English translations copyright (c) Alex Cigale, 2009.