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Elaine Feinstein (1930 - 2019)

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  • Elaine Feinstein was a poet, novelist, and biographer. She received many prizes, including a Cholmondeley Award for Poetry, Society of Authors', Wingate and Arts Council Awards, the Daisy Miller Prize for her experimental novel The Circle, (long-listed for the ‘lost’ Man Booker prize in 2010) and an Honorary D.Litt from the University of Leicester. She travelled across the world to read her poems, and her books have been translated into most European languages; also Russian, Chinese, Japanese and Korean. Her versions of the poems of Marina Tsvetaeva, a New York Times Book of the Year, have remained in print since 1971. She was given a major grant from the Arts Council to write her most recent novel, The Russian Jerusalem, a phantasmagoric mix of prose and poetry (Carcanet, 2008). She served on the Council of the Royal Society of Literature, of which she was a Fellow, as a judge for most of the current literary prizes, and as Chair of the Judges for the T.S.Eliot Award. She received a Civil List Pension in 2010. She died in September 2019.

    Elaine Feinstein has a page on the Poetry Archive website, where you can listen to recordings of her reading from her work, and access other useful resources. Click here.


     ELAINE FEINSTEIN grew up in Leicester. In 1990 she received an Honorary D.Lit. from the University there. She read English at Newnham College, Cambridge. She has published over thirty books, including fiction and biography, and written for radio and television and reviews for The Times and Poetry Review. She was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1980. In 1990 she received a Cholmondeley Award and was given an Honorary DLit from the University of Leicester. She has received three Arts Council Translation awards. Carcanet publish her Selected Poems.
       
       
    Praise for Elaine Feinstein (1930 - 2019)  'Feinstein found much inspiration in her Jewish heritage, drawing on Russian women poets...The clarity and emotional intelligence of Feinstein's work influenced many poets working in English today.'
    Gloria Tessler, The Jewish Chronicle
     '...it is the clear-sighted and profoundly emotionally intelligent character of Elaine's own verse that has influenced many poets working in English today, as well as delighting readers and audiences around the world: she was a charismatic performer... Elaine's career was exemplary, not only in the lasting significance of her work but in the range and depth of her literary friendships.'
    Fiona Sampson, The Guardian
    'There is a wry acceptance of illness, of ageing, change and loss, tethered to a valuing of the richness and rewards of the rocky road that have led to now...It is one of the strengths of Feinstein's work that she does not flinch from engaging with raw emotion and the contradictions entangled with intimacy.'
    Jenni Calder, JQ
    'Elaine Feinstein's truthfulness, her linguistic clarity and her musicality - above all, the last, for my pleasure - make her poetry a joy to read. The Clinic, Memory, her new and selected, is rich with poems that stay in one's mind.'
    Leah Fritz, Acumen
      'Written with a disarming honesty and directness, an unflinchingly wide-awake clarity. Difficult things - from the death of a husband to insomnia - have seldom seemed quite so beguilingly common to us all.'
    The Tablet
    'conversational in tone, bravely extravagant in spirit' Alison Brackenbury in The Poetry Review 'She is an extremely fine poet. She has a sinewy, tenacious way of penetrating and exploring the core of her subject that seems to me unique. Her simple, clean language follows the track of the nerves. There is nothing hit or miss, nothing for effect, nothing false. Reading her poems one feels cleansed and sharpened.'
    Ted Hughes
    'Like numerous English readers, I owe my discovery of Tsvetaeva to the multi-talented poet and writer, Elaine Feinstein... Feinstein's translations prove that a poem can be re-born in its adoptive language.'
    Carol Rumens
    'Elaine Feinstein has made the juncture between poetry and memoir her own. As befits a poet who is also a master of fiction and biography, she writes with casual erudition and an acute storyteller's eye. Her forays into European culture and history are dazzling. Cities is a profoundly humane, intimate exploration of the places and stages by which a life acquires meaning.'
    Fiona Sampson
     'For more than 40 years, Feinstein has been writing intensely lyrical, finely crafted poems. Those in [Talking to the Dead] are honest and moving, and are among her very best.'
    No. 1 in
    'The Ten Best New poetry collections' - the Independent, 2007
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