The American poet W. H. Auden remarked that Andrei Voznesensky is a writer who understands that “a poem is a verbal artifact which must be as skillfully and solidly constructed as a table or a motorcycle.” Voznesensky was well known for his technical virtuosity and structural innovation. His metric and rhyme schemes varied, often determined by the aural and visual aspects of the work. He paid close attention to surface patterning and sound play—assonance, alliteration, shaped text, stepped lines, palindromes—and often startled the reader with shifts in perspective, incongruous juxtaposition of images, and unexpected rhyme created by inserting slang or colloquial language into a line. He confronted the reader with a staggering array of metaphor, historical reference, and cultural allusion. Evidence of his early training in painting and architecture abounds in his work, which has been described as cubist, Surrealist, and Futurist. Voznesensky acknowledged, “As a poet I have been more profitably influenced by ancient Russian churches and by the works of Le Corbusier than by other poets.”
Voznesensky’s concern with technique and experimentation related directly to the content of his writing and his central concern with human destiny, which he viewed as dependent on interconnectedness. For him, without a sense of connection to one another, to culture and tradition, and to the planet, humanity might fall into a destructive spiral. In a mechanized,...
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