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Collected Poems In English
Edited by Ann Kjellberg
Translated by Anthony Hecht
Categories: 20th Century, Russian, Translation
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (542 pages)
(Pub. Oct 2001)
Edited by Ann Kjellberg; translated by Anthony Hecht, Howard Moss, Derek Walcott, Richard Wilbur and others
Five years after the death of Joseph Brodsky, the heir of the generation of Pasternak, Mandelstam, Tsvetaeva and especially Akhmatova, this Collected Poems in English for the first time collects all his translated and original poems in English. It confirms his unique place in our literature. His abiding addiction to the English language, and particularly to the Metaphysical poets, was manifest in the industry with which he read and translated in both directions. Both his own efforts to translate his work, and the poems he wrote directly in English, are ambitious: the poetic 'conceit' is for him functional as it was in the seventeenth century, a tool for prizing open difficult truths, making vertiginous connections. In the preface to A Part of Speech (Oxford, 1977) he wrote, 'I have taken the liberty of reworking some of the translations to bring them closer to the original, though perhaps at the expense of their smoothness.' Something strange and suggestive is alive in his disrupted prosodies, the pressure of content and of a poet making sense.
Susan Sontag speaks of the poems' 'extraordinary velocity and density of material notation, of cultural reference, of attitude. He insisted that poetry's "job" (a much used word) was to explore the capacity of language to travel farther, faster. Poetry, he said, is 'accelerated thinking.'
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