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Peter Golub


Who is Helping the New Russian Poetry?


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Argo-Risk is the project of Dmitry Kuzmin. The name envelopes the internet projects Vavilon, TextOnly, and LitKarta, the poetry quarterly Vozdukh (since 2006), and Argo-Risk Press. It would take too much time to read over the roles of these various entities in contemporary Russian literature, and for those interested in Kuzmin, please read his interview in Jacket 35.


Contemporary Russian literature would be tangibly different if it were not for sites like Vavilon and LitKarta, which provide the biographies, texts, and photos of new authors. New Russian poetry would certainly be much humbler without Argo-Risk Press, which publishes the poetry series Pokolenie (meaning Generations). In terms of the poets in this Jacket anthology, Argo-Risk is responsible for publishing most of the authors born in the 1980s. As for the journal Vozdukh, Stephanie Sandler writes:


Amid all this variety, one consistent feature is the strength of voice: the poets and critics exude a sense of pleasure in writing for readers they assume will understand them. Critics and poets feel free to offer parenthetical observations about everything from free verse to the idea of “the great Russian poetry.” The writing that fills Vozdukh sparkles with wit and occasional bite. Mostly the journal goes out of its way to offer praise, and justifiably so. You cannot read a single issue of Vozdukh, much less a year’s worth, without discovering new poets who enlarge your view of what poetry can be.[1]

Andrey Bely Prize           Link: the Andrey Bely Prize (Russian only).


The Andrey Bely Prize was created in 1978 by the samizdat journal Chasy. As the prize was entirely underground, it could not award a legitimate cash prize; instead the first laureates of the Andrey Bely Prize (among whom are Viktor Krivulin, Elena Schwartz, and Arkady Dragomoshchenko) were presented with a bottle of white wine, an apple, one rouble, and a diploma. The prize awards new literature in four categories: poetry, prose, criticism, and curating. Winners of the prize are usually awarded a book contract, and given a cash prize. The prize also publishes an anthology.

Anti-Booker Prize


The Anti-Booker Prize was created in 1996 by Nezavisimaya Gazeta, with only one nomination: prose. The prize was symbolically worth $12,001 (the Booker Prize is worth $12,000). By 2000, the Prize had five categories: poetry, prose, non-fiction, dramaturgy, and criticism. Poet laureates of the Anti-Booker Prize include Boris Rizhy, Maxim Amelin, and Sergey Gandlevsky. The year 2000 was the last year the prize was awarded.

Arion          Link: Arion (Russian only)


Arion is a quarterly which was first published in 1994. It claims to be the first Russian literary journal to publish exclusively poetry. There were of course zines, and other small periodicals that published poetry before Arion, but it was one of the first big projects to take the new Russian Poetry seriously. In 2006 it was the cheapest Russian publication – one could purchase an issue for about one dollar.

Debut Prize          Link: Debut (Russian only)


The Debut Prize was created in 2000 by Andrey Skoch, who is a deputy to the Russian Duma, and ranks as the 583 wealthiest person in the world. The prize is a godsend to young Russian poets. There are six categories (prose, short prose, poetry, dramaturgy, and essay), and it is not uncommon for poets (e.g. Julia Idlis or Danila Davydov) to get the prize in another category (oftentimes the short prose category is won by a poet). The age limit is 25, so one must be truly young to enter the prize, and also the 200,000 rouble prize (about $8,200) is a great bonus to any poet let alone a 20 year old Russian.


The Debut Prize also publishes a yearly poetry anthology of all the short-listed and long-listed authors – the anthology serves as a great who’s who in the young Russian poetry world.

Deti Ra          Link: Deti Ra (Russian only)


Deti Ra (meaning: Ra’s children) is a Saratov city poetry journal first published in 2004. The poetry journal has an interesting theme: each issue is dedicated to a different city in the world. Thus far twenty-five issues have been published, some of the cities chosen by the journal include: Saratov, Samara, Novosibirsk, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Berlin, Dublin, and New York City.

Interpoezia          Link: Interpoezia


Interpoezia is a bilingual poetry quarterly first published in 2004. Their site states that:


The idea is to create a new space in the air, a sort of playground between cultures, a spot for a lively exchange and an attempt to achieve a mutual understanding between poets creating in different geographic, social, and linguistic conditions.

Kommentary          Link: Kommentary (Russian only)


Kommentary (meaning: commentary) is a quarterly founded in 1991 by writer Alexander Davydov and poet Arkady Dragamoshchenko. Its goal is to inform the reader of the newest critical developments in the humanities, at home and abroad.

Knizhnoe Obozrenie          Link: Knishnoe Obozrenie (Russian only)


Knishnoe Obozrenie (meaning: book review) is a weekly review of books published since 1966. It is probably the chief source of information for Russians about literature. Think Rain Taxi meets New York Times.

Kriticheskaya Massa          Link: Kriticheskaya Massa (Russian only)


Kriticheskaya Massa (meaning: critical mass) is a literary criticism quarterly first published in 2002. Regular contributors include: Danila Davydov, Dmitry Kuzmin, and Ilya Kukulin.

Mosckovsky Schet Prize          Link: Projects


The Moscovsky Schet Prize was created by The Foundation for Creative Projects in 2003. The jury, which consists of hundreds of poets, chooses the winner from the pool of poetry books published in Moscow that year. The winners are awarded a bronze miniature of the arc over George Frangulyan’s sculpture of Bulat Okudzhava, and a cash prize. Laureates of the prize include Stanislav Lvovsky, Marianna Geide, and Fyodor Svarovsky.

New Literary Observer          Link: New Literary Observer


The New Literary Observer is the biggest publishing house, and literary journal (six large issues a year), behind the new Russian Poetry. They have published many of the authors translated in this anthology, and also published Nine Measurements: An Anthology of New Russian Literature, which features many of the poets translated for Jacket. Think Conjunctions meets New Directions. Their site states that:


“Created in 1992, at the peak of Russia’s democratic revolution, the New Literary Observer preserves that period’s powerful impulse of cultural transformation, search for new aesthetic references, and broadening of intellectual horizons. Our publishing house aims to create a unique multicultural and multidisciplinary space around itself, drawing on academic and creative thought, texts and images, making them interact in bold experiment and thus contributing to a constant feast of the spirit.”

Novy Mir          Link: Novy Mir (Russian Only)


Novy Mir (meaning: new world) is a monthly first published in 1925. Although it was an official literary journal of the Soviet Union, it was seen to be one of the more liberal journals. The print run of the journal in 1975 was 172,000. Novy Mir was one of the journals who had to drastically change its aesthetic values during Perestroika. Like Znamya it was one of the first to reject communist ideals and gained an extraordinary popularity during perestroika, and achieved a monthly print run of 2,700,000! But with the collapse of the Soviet Union the journal lost most of its funding and edge. Currently the print run is 8000.


In 2003 Novy Mir created the poetry prize Anthologia. The prize has been awarded to: Maxim Amelin, Vera Pavlova, and Irina Ermakova

О.Г.И.          Link: О.Г.И. (Russian only)


О.Г.И. is the acronym of United Art Publishing. This project is at the heart of Moscow’s literary scene. It is a well funded press as well as a chain of bookstores/cafes. The О.Г.И. project is an important venue and sponsor for much of Moscow’s literary activity. Imagine the KGB bar in New York City meets Powell’s Books in Portland.

Oktyabr          Link: Oktyabr (Russian only)


Oktyabr (meaning October) is a monthly first published in 1924 as the representative of Moscow proletariat writers. Although initially it was one of the more liberal journals (publishing Yury Olesha, Vladimir Platonov, and Mikhail Zoshchenko) it later became one of the staunchest defenders of Soviet communism, and attacked journals like Novy Mir. Also, unlike Novy Mir and Znamya, Oktyabr broke away from state control only in 1989, and did not experience the “perestroika printing spike” like the latter two journals. It is one of the more conservative journals, but it does publish established new Russian poets. Currently the monthly print run is 4000.

Triumph Prize          Link: Triumph


The Triumph Prize was created by the Russian Independent Fund in 1992. The prize has a permanent jury, and carries a large cash award. The Triumph Prize itself is awarded to established authors. However, in 2000 the Russian Independent Fund began giving $2500 grants to young authors, including Linor Goralik, Inga Kuznetsova, and Marianna Geide.

Russian Prize          Link: Russian Prize (Russian only)


The Russian Prize was created by the Boris Yeltsin Foundation in 2005. It is awarded to authors writing in Russian and living in the former USSR (excluding Russia and the Baltics). There are three categories (prose, short prose, and poetry). It awards a $3000 prize and a book contract.

Znamya          Link: Znamya (Russian only)


Znamya (meaning: banner) is a monthly first published in 1931 under the heading Literary Union of the Red Army and Navy. It was one of the main official literary journals to promote social-realism and nationalism. The print run of the journal in 1975 was 170,000. In order to survive perestroika the journal had to drastically change its aesthetic values. Because it was one of the first to reject communist ideals it gained an extraordinary popularity during perestroika, and achieved a print run of 1,000,000! But with the collapse of the Soviet Union the journal lost most of its funding and edge. Currently the monthly print run is 5000. In terms of new Russian poetry, the journal tends to lean to the right, and publishes already established young poets (e.g. Gleb Shulpyakov, Maria Stepanova, and Maxim Amelin).

Zverev Center          Link: Zverev Center (Russian only)


Headed by the poet Kolya Baitov the center is dedicated to the memory of Anatoly Zverev, one of Moscow’s most beautiful, drunken painters. This is one of the best places in Moscow to see and hear excellent work by Russia’s experimental artists.

Others links of interest:


Absinthe: New European Writing
AKT only)
A Public Space
ArteFaq (Russian only)
Bilingua (Russian only)
Ex Libris (Russian only)
Falanster (Russian only)
Filimonov Press
Helicon (Russian only)
Litafisha (Russian only)
Mayakovsky Museum
A Public Space
St. Petersburg Review
Summer Literary Seminars
Turgenev Library (Russian only)
Ugly Duckling Presse
Zvezda (Russian only)


This of course is by no means extensive. The point of this little guide is to provide a glimpse into the part of Russia’s literary world that supports new Russian poetry.


[1] Stephanie Sandler. “Dmitrii Kuz’min, ed. VozdukhSlavic and East European Studies Journal. 2008 Volume 51, 4: 773—775.

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