Writing and Reviewing Queer Russian Literature: A Conversation with Konstantin Kropotkin

Punctured Lines

We’re delighted to publish our conversation with Konstantin Kropotkin, an author and literary and film critic who reviews LGBT books and movies, as well as trends in Russian culture. Kropotkin’s novels and collections of short stories centering queer lives are available on Amazon, in Russian. His commentary on queer culture appears daily on his Telegram blog “Sodom i umora,” and he contributes full-form critical essays to top Russian-language publications. Kropotkin lives in Germany and this conversation was conducted in English and Russian over email, and subsequently translated by the interviewer.

Olga Zilberbourg: Much of your fiction has been focused on portraying the lives of gay men, and as a critic you pay particular attention to LGBT literature and film. Your popular Telegram blog “Sodom i umora” is dedicated to queer books and movies in Russian or in translation to Russian. Despite the retrograde homophobic laws that Russia has passed…

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“..it was secret and nobody could trick her out of it.” #Zilberbourg2021 #LikeWater

So grateful for this wonderful review from one of the most amazing book bloggers out there!! I learn so much from Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings.

Kaggsy's Bookish Ramblings

As a rule, I am totally rubbish at taking part in, and sticking to, any kind of reading challenge. Whether it’s someone’s reading week, or a readalong, or just making my own plan and following it through, I pretty much always fail. So when I approached a recent Twitter readalong – which I really *did* want to take part in! – I had little confidence I would see it through. However, I’m pleased to report that not only did I stick to the schedule, but also that this turned out to be the perfect way to read the book in question! 😀

The book is “Like Water and Other Stories” by Olga Zilberbourg, her English-language debut published in 2019 by wtaw press. Zilberbourg was born in what was then Leningrad, USSR, but grew up in what reverted to St. Petersburg in 1991 and now lives in California. As well…

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Feminist and Queer Russophone Poetry

This year, English-speaking readers will be introduced to three books in translation from Russian, each of which is groundbreaking on its own terms; taken together, these books showcase the aesthetic potential of feminism in contemporary Russian-language poetry. The feminist and queer voices in these books are amplified by the group of poet-translators, whose own politics […]

Feminist and Queer Russophone Poetry

Book Release Event: LOOK AT HIM by Anna Starobinets, trans. Katherine E. Young

This event with Anna Starobinets, Katherine E. Young, Muireann Macguire and Yelena Furman is coming up on Saturday. Registration link below!

Punctured Lines

We atPunctured Lines are delighted to host our first public event via Zoom. We recently ran Svetlana Satchkova’s interview with Anna Starobinets about her memoir, and welcome an opportunity to continue this conversation. On September 26, we’ll be moderating a book release celebration for LOOK AT HIM by Anna Starobinets in Katherine E. Young’s translation. This event will begin at 3 pm EST.

About the Event:

In 2012, Russia-based writer and journalist Anna Starobinets was told in her sixteenth week of pregnancy that the baby she was carrying had developed a kidney defect incompatible with life. Following a dehumanizing experience in Moscow clinics, Starobinets traveled to Berlin, Germany, to undergo an abortion. In Berlin, Starobinets also discovered a level of medical support, including emotional support and counseling, that was practically unheard of in Russia at the time.

Starobinets wrote LOOK AT HIM on the heels of those events. Its…

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Belarus

The Russian Reader

— Паслухай, стары,
нам учора абвешчана воля,
і сёння ад рання
народам запоўнены пляцы,
наперадзе – радасць,
якая нас век не пакіне,
і я назаўсёды з табой
развітацца хачу…
— Паслухай, мой хлопча,
учора зіма пачалася,
і белыя вопраткі
чорныя дрэвы надзелі,
і шэранем ранішнім
ледзь прыцярушаны прорвы,
і холад хавае
ўсялякі ці прыпах, ці пах –
і так будзе доўжыцца
аж да вясновае ўлады –
тады на дарогах
адкрыюцца раны старыя,
як сонца сарве перавязкі…
Крывёю і брудам
вам станецца радасць
і доўга чаканая воля.
А тут, пад зямлёй,
пад заброснелай нізкаю столлю,
на змрочнай сцяне,
будуць мілыя блікі блукаць
маленькай, як жменька,
і вечнай – і вечнай! – надзеі…
… У кніжцы без вокладкі
і без апошніх старонак,
дзе вы, адмыслоўцы шалёнага часу,
жылі,
я сёння заместа закладкі
лісток пакладу
ад пекнай герані,
падобнай на кроў і агонь.

Тацяна Сапач (1962-2010)

vadim f lurie-minsk 2019Vadim F. Lurie, Minsk, 2019…

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Readings on Blackness, Racism, and Russian and Eurasian Studies

Punctured Lines

This post reproduces and documents a Twitter thread that began on June 3, 2020, with articles by Aisha Powell, Sarah Valentine, B. Amarilis Lugo de Fabritz, and Jennifer Wilson. Various members of the Eurasian Studies community gradually added to the thread, creating an informal list of resources that, while useful, would also be ephemeral and difficult to find if left on social media. Here, in Punctured Lines’s more easily searchable archive, these resources are available for you to use and remix through a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. This license applies only to the tweets by Hilah Kohen below and not to any of the content linked to them. You can use the license to create your own version of this resource list for a specific community or publication.

Both the Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia at NYU and the American Association of Teachers…

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“Can any man remain in Moscow without softening of the brain…” #woefromwit # alexandergriboedov @RusLibrary

Great review of a delightful classic, newly translated and published by Columbia University Press!

Kaggsy's Bookish Ramblings

Woe from Wit by Alexander Griboedov
Translated by Betsy Hulick

Back in 2018, I reviewed a fascinating book for Shiny New Books called Death of the Vazir-Mukhtar by Yuri Tynianov. That book was a fictionalised retelling of the life of an intriguing Russian author Alexander Griboedov; a friend and contemporary of Pushkin, he’s probably best known for his play, “Woe from Wit”. So when I heard the that Columbia University Press were bringing out a shiny new translation in their wonderful Russian Library imprint, I was very keen to explore it! Reading plays is not something I do on a regular basis; however, this is the second in a fairly short space of time (as I loved my re-encounter with The Government Inspector back in November). Must be something to do with the Russians… ;D

Griboedov had a fascinating and ultimately dramatic life; as well as being an author…

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Juneteenth!

I’m celebrating Juneteenth today by reading Ijeoma Oluo So You Want to Talk about Race. Though I’ve lived in the US for almost 24 years now, I’m still uncomfortable with the conversations about race. Most of the time I deflect to the territory where I feel myself more confidently — literature or “the international angle” (aka Russia). Though obviously conversations about race are hugely important in literature, there’s no good reason to shirk them in other areas of my life. As a writer and a workshop leader, as an editor and a blogger, I have to own the white privileges that I have and educate myself about the ways of supporting and amplifying the voices of the Black writers in my community and participating in other aspects of anti-racist work. So grateful to Oluo, Ibram X. Kendi, and other Black and Brown writers for their instructive and powerful books.

Help Independent Bookstores Survive Quarantine

Punctured Lines

In the approximately month and a half that California has been on lockdown, I have barely read anything. This seems counter-intuitive, since I basically read for a living. It also feels like a particularly vulnerable admission, given how much of my personal identity is tied to being a serious reader of “high” literature; not reading feels like failing somehow. But all I’ve managed in the last few weeks is Pushkin’s very short “Пир во время чумы” (“A Feast in Time of Plague”) because it was mentioned on Twitter, a few pages of Proust’s Swann’s Way (thanks to a Twitter reading challenge), and skimming the Chekhov stories I’m teaching this quarter (which I’ve read many times before because I would never skim for teaching. Just to be clear.). My concentration, which was bad even before the pandemic, is abysmal. Zoom has taken over my life. I spend too much time on…

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A Forum of Reflections on Audre Lorde’s Notes from a Trip to Russia

Posted this week on Punctured Lines!

Punctured Lines

Audre Lorde’s name and work is familiar to many of us who have studied feminist movements in high school and college. Some of her seminal essays, including “Poetry Is Not a Luxury” and “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power” are commonly included in syllabuses of literature classes and used as entry points into the conversation about the politics of literature and how combinations of race, gender, and sexuality affect one’s construction of self and point of view on the world.

Less well known is Lorde’s essay “Notes from a Trip to Russia” that opens her book Sister Outsider. A footnote to this essay explains that Lorde spent two weeks in the Soviet Union in 1976 as an American observer to the African-Asian Writers Conference sponsored by the Union of Soviet Writers. Having returned from that trip, she finds herself haunted by it in her dreams, including a…

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