Posts Tagged ‘Irina Mashinski’

A Stanford story (and winner!) behind this year’s Compass Translation Awards in NYC

Thursday, May 4th, 2017
Bella Akhmadulina

Akhmadulina: Singing in another language.

Last Saturday, Stanford’s Glen Worthey spent an unusual evening in Manhattan: he was at the Poets House accepting a Compass Translation Awared Second Prize for his translation of a Bella Akhmadulina poem from the original Russian.

Stepanova @Stanford

She’ll help next time. Maria Stepanova at Stanford Libraries, photographed by C. Haven.

The poet for next year’s translation competition is another friend: one of Russia’s leading poets (and a recent Stanford visitor) Maria Stepanova, and the first-ever living poet to be featured for a Compass competitions.  Maria has offered to consult on her poetry with any translators who may desire it, “which sounds both fun and daunting,” said Glen.

In addition to loads of new impressions and new friends, Glen returned with a small stack of sample journal issues for himself and the Stanford Libraries, as well as signed copies of Irina’s latest book, and some catalogs of the archive of Mark Khedekel’s fascinating father, Lazar Khedekel, a Suprematist architect-philosopher who was a contemporary and collaborator with Malevich and El Lissitzky in the Vitebsk Art Institute.

Oh, and the poem. Read Glen’s translation below, or listen to Akhmadulina read the poem in the youtube video he made at the bottom of this post:


Oh, Runner, Run!

Behold the man, whose race was first begun
So long ago, when light first lit creation;
One cannot count the centuries he’s run:
Run high, run far, toward some consecration,
Some blessed goal.  What triumph might it be
That beckons him to run, to conquer distance?
Behold the man — oh, look at him! and see
Through fogs of time his face’s fine persistence.
Egyptian deserts held him as a slave,
A swarthy outcast, breathless in his fleeing,
Whom death awaited should he cease to crave
To win this race: the essence of his being.
Around him all is motionless and dead.
But he: alive with passion, flexed emotion,
His golden muscles’ movements all embed
Humanity’s own most perfected motion.
Oh, runner, run!  Run, brother; run, my friend!
By force of will your final lap completed,
You run one more, your victory to extend,
To nobly face a future undefeated.
Oh, runner, run!

Slavic scholar and translator George Kline (1921-2014): memorial reading in NYC on Saturday

Thursday, January 15th, 2015
In 1974...

In 1974…

His death was as quiet and unassuming as his life. I learned within a few days that preeminent Slavic scholar George Kline of Bryn Mawr died on October 21 in Anderson, South Carolina, but was hesitant to say anything, not wanting to be the one to break the news to common friends and colleagues, and wishing to defer to the family to make the first announcement. Perhaps everyone else felt the same, for the news seemed to spread very slowly. I sensed, perhaps mistakenly, that he wouldn’t have wanted to make a fuss.

I had known of George for many years – his translation of Joseph Brodsky‘s Selected Poems, with its distinctively artsy purple-and-green portrait on Penguin’s “Modern European Poets” cover, was the book that made the Russian poet’s reputation in English. George was among those early champions who had smuggled his poems out of the U.S.S.R., and helped bring the future Nobel prizewinner to the West after the Soviet Union booted the poet out in 1972.

I met George sometime during my work on Joseph Brodsky: Conversations. George was ruthlessly meticulous and ceaselessly patient and helpful. And when my book came out, I received congratulations, praise, and a precise list of minor errors and typos in the final volume, for correction in a second edition. I learned that anyone who wrote about Joseph Brodsky anywhere in the world could expect a such a letter. It was George’s trademark, and I don’t recall a time when he wasn’t right.

brodskybookI spoke with him a few weeks before his death, and suspected he hadn’t long to live – his beloved wife Ginny had died in April, and he seemed unenthusiastic about the task of living without her. We had some work to finish together, but both of us had other pressing deadlines – after his death, I learned how extensive his commitments, at 93, were. I knew him primarily in his work as translator, but he is, perhaps, better known as the patriarch of Russian philosophy scholarship in the U.S., and widely published on Spinoza and Hegel as well. He continued his encyclopedia entries, his revisions, his collaborations, his articles, his mentoring. Many speak of his generosity, kindness, and fundamental decency – I had a chance to experience all firsthand.

He had frequently mentioned Irina Mashinski as a colleague and friend. After his death I was pleased to find her on Facebook, and she told me of the welter of projects they were working on together that, like mine, would be interrupted by his passing. Everyone seems to have a similar story – he was working tirelessly until the last few weeks. What will we do without him?

brodsky7Anyway, here’s one show that will go on, thanks to Irina and others: at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 17, the fourth annual Compass Award Ceremony, as well as the launch of the Volume 4 of the Cardinal Points Journal, will take place at the the Elizabeth Kray Hall of Poets’ House in New York City (10 River Terrace in New York City – fond memories of the Zbigniew Herbert evening there four years ago).  The evening will be dedicated to to the memory of George and also poet Nina Cassian (1924-2014), both “esteemed Cardinal Points friends and authors.” George is still listed on the panel of judges for the Compass Translation Award website here.

StoSvet Literary Project, MadHat Press and Russian-American Cultural Center are sponsoring the evening, which will be hosted by Irina, as well as Alexander Veytsman and Alex Cigale. The readings will include Polina Barskova, Alexander Cigale, Sibelan Forrester, Andrey Gritsman, Betsy Hulick, Slava Polishchuk, Larissa Shmailo, Alla Steinber, Alexei Tsvetkov, and Alexander Veytsman.

cardinalThe winners of the 4th Competition – the last competition in which George was a judge – include Laurence Bogoslaw (Minnesota, 1st Prize); Igor Mazin (Virginia, 3rd Prize); and Eugene Serebryany (Cambridge, Massachusetts) and Misha Semenov (Princeton, New Jersey), sharing honorable mention.

Before the degrees from Columbia, the years at Bryn Mawr, before the hundreds of articles and reviews, George served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II as a navigator and bombardier in B-24s, receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross. Below is the photo of the young couple, looking forward to their lives together after the war – George sent it to me a few weeks after Ginny’s death. The wartime hero was one aspect of George’s otherwise scholarly life that fascinated Joseph Brodsky, who had been an infant during the terrible Siege of Leningrad. So he asked George about his wartime experiences and liked to wear his air corps hat, for fun. …

Even now I wonder, what would George think of what I am writing right here, at this moment? Part of me will wait for the letter that will never come, the prompt correspondence in the tight, cramped handwriting, offering thanks, praise, and errata.