Forms of Exile: Selected Poems by Marina Tsvetaeva Translated by Belinda Cooke (The High Window Press)

Tears in the Fence

Marina Tsvetaeva is one of those poets whose biography (privilege, revolution, poverty, exile, return, suicide) tends to generate more word-count than their work. Presumably that’s not merely because of her life’s drama and passion, and because the distance between the lived and written personae appears so small, but because the work is so difficult. Nonetheless, translators do love a challenge and there are nowadays plenty of options in English – Feinstein, Alvi/Krasnova, White, Whyte, Naydam/Yastremski, Kneller, Kossman, McDuff, just for starters – giving us Tsvetaeva’s who are fatalist, formalist, bourgeois, Orthodox, faithless, feminist, tsarist, unstable, ironic, bisexual, cool, or all of these. As for this book, most of the translations in its second half – fromAfter Russiaand the Thirties – are already available in Belinda Cooke’s praised 2008 selection from Worple Press with only minor amendments here. (And many of those look like typos, of which this book…

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