Rochester, New York: Two Olgas and One Genrikh: Russian Poems, Stories, & Shirts

When: Saturday, November 9, 2019 at 7 PM – 10 PM EST
Where: Java’s Cafe, 16 Gibbs St, Rochester, New York 14604

Join us for a lively evening of stories, poems, and performance art by nonconformist writers from the former Soviet Union, in English.

Olga Livshin‘s book A LIFE REPLACED braids together poems on immigration in America with translations from Anna Akhmatova and our contemporary Vladimir Gandelsman, winner of Russia’s highest award for poetry, the Moscow Reckoning. Many poems are responses to these two voices; some are stand-alone works. Maggie Smith comments: “Livshin, who immigrated to the US from Russia as a child, acknowledges the two Americas she knows firsthand: the one that fears and demonizes, and the one that welcomes. A LIFE REPLACED is astonishingly beautiful, intelligent, and important.”

A graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology, Olga Zilberbourg will introduce her English-language short story collection LIKE WATER AND OTHER STORIES. “The thread connecting these tales,” Anna Kasradze writes for The Moscow Times (ed. Michele Berdy), “is each protagonist’s attempt to come to terms with an identity that is always in flux, transitioning between various contexts such as emigration, motherhood, partnership, and employment.” Olga is the author of three Russian-language books (the latest of which “Хлоп-страна,” Издательство Время, 2016). She has published fiction and essays in Alaska Quarterly Review, Scoundrel Time, Narrative Magazine, Lit Hub, Electric Literature, the San Francisco Chronicle, and elsewhere. She co-moderates the San Francisco Writers Workshop.

Opening for the two Olgas is a poetry performance by translator Dmitri Manin. Avant-garde sonnets by Genrikh Sapgir will be presented on shirts, worn by both Olgas and Dmitri. Sapgir (1928-1999), a hugely acclaimed poet in Russia, first presented his philosophical and funny Sonnets on Shirts–on actual men’s shirts–in 1975. His performance made a sensation amidst an atmosphere of official, staid, highly traditional, print-only Soviet literature. Manin revives his work and re-enacts it in English, using contemporary bodies and presences to channel Sapgir.

Java’s–a ten-minute walk or three-minute Lyft drive from the Floreano Convention Center–will have food and drink for us to regale us into the night with literature and pleasure.

My Interview in Write or Die Tribe

Thanks to Sam Cohen and Write or Die Tribe for allowing me the opportunity to tell stories behind the stories.

Each of your characters feels like a real person when reading the collection, and the first-person narratives make the stories even more convincing. Is there any part of yourself reflected in these characters, or are their thoughts and words entirely fictionalized? 

There are lots of versions of me in this book. One of the most personal—by which I mean the least crafted—stories in this collection might be “Practice a Relaxing Bedtime Ritual,” about a mother watching her son thrash in his crib after she’s given him an albuterol inhaler for his asthma. This piece started its life as a Facebook post, I believe. 

https://www.writeordietribe.com/spotlight-series/interview-with-olga-zilberbourg

Upcoming Events: Heading to New York!

I’ve loved seeing so many friends come out to my events in the Bay Area, and I am delighted to be heading to New York State this weekend. I’ll be participating in two events:

November 3rd, New York City, 6 pm at the Bowery Poetry Club — I’ll be appearing as a part of Why There Are Words event featuring five other excellent readers. I’m particularly excited to reconnect with Melissa Valentine, a recent transplant from the Bay Area. Get tickets here.

November 9th, Rochester, New York, 7:30 at Java’s Cafe downtown — I’ll be introducing my book alongside to celebrating the publication of Olga Livshin’s hybrid book of translated and original poetry and also featuring Dmitri Manin’s translations from avant-garde writer Genrikh Sapgir. I’m expecting this to be very festive

Upcoming Reading: Lit Crawl San Francisco

My next reading with fellow authors and friends of WTAW Press is coming up this Saturday! I’ll be reading a short (and probably funny) piece from LIKE WATER AND OTHER STORIES.

Saturday October 19, 2019 6:30pm – 7:30pm
Third Haus 455 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94103, USA

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS EVENT HAS HAD TO BE RELOCATED FROM THE VENUE LISTED IN THE PHYSICAL PROGRAM AND ON THE MAP.

Online Lit Crawl Schedule has the right information!

Review: Olga Zilberbourg’s English-Language Debut, “Like Water and Other Stories”

My deep gratitude to Yelena Furman for this review at the NYC Jordan Center’s blog:

In addition to its experiments with style, this collection offers new possibilities for telling immigrant stories, particularly those of women. With some exceptions, such as Vapnyar’s Memoirs of a Muse and Ulinich’s Petropolis, and despite the preponderance of female writers and protagonists, Russian-American fiction does not focus on gender, and occasionally exhibits elements of “traditional” thinking on the subject. In contrast, Zilberbourg offers a feminist exploration of the straightjacket of gender clichés in pieces like “My Sister’s Game,” which details the enraged attempts by the narrator’s older sister to head off male romantic interest during a tennis match. As the narrator puts it, “It took me many years and a lot of learning […] to understand that moment as my first realization of Zoika’s refusal to conform to the norms of her gender.” This statement illustrates the narrator’s own understanding of the perniciousness of these norms, even as the story leaves open the question of whether her sister is able to thwart them.

http://jordanrussiacenter.org/news/review-olga-zilberbourgs-english-language-debut-like-water-and-other-stories/

Aspiring Writers Beware: The Art of the Short Story Panel, Sunday

I’m one of the panelists for this event coming to San Francisco’s Litquake this Sunday.

Sunday October 13, 2019 1:00pm – 2:15pm
California College of the Arts, Writers’ Studio195 De Haro St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Co-presented by MFA Writing at CCA

“Short stories are tiny windows into other worlds and other minds and other dreams.” —Neil Gaiman

Join four short fiction authors as they talk about their craft. Featuring Olga Zilberbourg, Keenan Norris, Mimi Lok, and Beth Piatote. Moderated by Peg Alford Pursell. $12 adv / $15 door

More details, including everyone’s bios, on Litquake’s website.

People the Size of Mountains: Q&A with Olga Zilberbourg

My interview with Maddie King of Bloom.

Bloom

by Maddie King

Olga Zilberbourg is a Russian-American writer who lives in San Francisco and was born during the Cold War. She has three published collections in Russia: The Clapping Land, published by Vremya Press in 2016, The Keys from the Lost House, published by Limbus Press in 2010, and Coffee-Inn, published by Neva Press in 2006.

Like Water and Other Stories, published by WTAW Press in 2019, is Zilberbourg’s first collection of short stories to come out in the United States. Previously, her work has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Narrative Magazine, World Literature Today, Confrontation, Feminist Studies, Tin House’s The Open Bar, Epiphany, Santa Monica Review, and other print and online publications. 

 I read Like Water and Other Stories in the early days of August, and no other time of year could have better suited. This collection, so fittingly-named, pools stories of…

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