Andrei Voznesensky

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Voznesensky, Andrei 1933–

Voznesensky is considered one of the finest contemporary Russian poets. Voznesensky, who was a protégé of Boris Pasternak, explores the artistic imagination at odds with political authority and the concerns of the individual over the collective. His work is technically refined and highly experimental in its use of modern jazz and rock rhythms, slang, neologisms, and technical jargon to evoke the diversity and confusion of modern city life. (see also CLC, Vol. 1)

G. S. Fraser

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Voznesensky [in his Selected Poems] is … fluent, light, gay, something of a virtuoso in fanciful surprises and daring juxtapositions, frivolous at times, almost rococo. His commitment is against solemnity and pomposity in Russia, against official anti-Americanism (he loves America even at, especially at, its most gimmicky and glittery) and for a tradition of dandyism, of insouciance, even of romantic individualism…. But swift, light and difficult formal intricacy is, unfortunately, the one quality in verse that is almost untranslatable—the "play" element, depending so much on the genius of the poet's native tongue. (p. 155)

G. S. Fraser, "Brecht, Grass, Voznesensky," in Partisan Review (copyright © 1967 by Partisan Review, Inc.), Vol. XXXIV, No. 1, 1967, pp. 150-56.∗

Sidney Monas

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The youthful and brilliant Andrei Voznesensky descends as much from Mandelstam, whom he never mentions, as he does from Pasternak and Lorca, to whom he pays eloquent tribute. He is strong (as he needs to be under the circumstances), talented, and in his reach and ambition, capacious. Perhaps this makes him sound too solemn; his work also has about it a touch of Marcel Duchamp, dada, and the Beatles. We now have in English … two new volumes of translations [Selected Poems and Antiworlds]. The drama of Voznesensky's nimble play is there to be observed….

His poems are the dynamic asides of a very private person in a very public place. Who is the audience? Who is the poet? They become one; they incorporate each other. Worlds are energized by their antiworlds…. The poet is an airport, a center of world-communication, into and through which the outcasts of the world must pass and be transformed. Poetry is a severed head in the hands of power, speaking not only to the drama-stricken multitude that watches, but in bubbles of blood to the very hands of power that dangle it. Worlds and antiworlds are ineluctably inter-locked and in their high-tension become each other: "If you live, you burn!"

Sidney Monas, "Public and Private Muse" in The Hudson Review (copyright © 1967 by The Hudson Review, Inc.; reprinted by permission), Vol. XX, No. 1, Spring, 1967, pp. 121-36.∗

James Bailey

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Andrej Voznesenskij is one of the better-known and more original representatives of the current innovative trend in Russian poetry. Study of his verse may provide some indication of the meters being employed by present-day poets and of possible new developments taking place in Russian versification.

Several characteristics which complicate study of Voznesenskij's meters must be pointed out…. His poems often lack the formal clarity and precision found in a more traditional type of poetry. Syllables may be sporadically added or dropped in a meter which otherwise conforms to classical metrical schemes, two or more meters may be utilized in one poem (polymetrical verse), passages in free verse may be inserted, words with a differing number of syllables after the final stress may be rhymed (such as feminine with dactylic), the order of rhymes may vary from stanza to stanza, and sections in prose may be inserted. In some cases the meter may be so syllabically loose that it retains only a vague sense of an underlying pattern…. (p. 155)

One of the more obvious characteristics is the violation of the integrity of the...

(This entire section contains 1100 words.)

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line. As a rule, the meter, syntax, intonation and rhyme (if present) tend to correspond at the end of the lines. These elements usually coalesce so that the integrity of the line is preserved, and any departure from such correspondence is perceived as a divergence from the norm. Graphically Voznesenskij often breaks the line into separate segments which may be arranged in a column (stolbik) or staggered (lesenka), and besides utilizing lines of regular length, he may also run two lines together (doubled line). When such graphic devices are employed, the customary unity of the line is broken. (pp. 155-156)

[One] of the salient features of twentieth century Russian poetry is the increased attention paid by poets to sound texture and internal rhyme. When a poet resorts to a large amount of internal rhyme which echoes end rhyme, then the organizing function of the rhyme is weakened…. The sound layer [can intrude] so deeply into the composition of the poem that end rhyme becomes confused with internal rhyme. (p. 156)

When extensive usage of internal rhyme is connected with the graphic breakup of the lines [as in some of Voznesenskij's poems], the result is even more divisive from the standpont of the integrity of the line. (p. 157)

It should be remembered that meter in Russian verse depends on the inner ordering of stressed and unstressed syllables. The intonational, syntactical, and euphonic layers in a poem may or may not coincide with the end of the metrical line; lack of such correspondence does not affect the metrical pattern. Although they may be meter-supporting, the stolbik and lesenka in themselves are not meter-forming. One indication that these devices are largely independent of the meter is the fact that they may be used in any meter. Generally speaking, the graphic division of the lines may fulfill several different functions: indicating how the lines should be recited, setting off intonational segments of the line, isolating the caesura in some meters, or bringing internal rhyme into relief.

Voznesenskij is a poet who strives for unusual stylistic and rhythmic effects. In part this is reflected in his penchant for "barbaric" rhymes and for shock rhymes in which the juxtaposed words produce incongruent semantic associations…. [He often uses] unstressed rhyme. Although this type of rhyme is common in English and German poetry, it has remained a rarity in Russian. In effect, unstressed rhyme represents another aspect of Voznesenskij's endeavor to relax and broaden the formal strictness of Russian meters. (pp. 157-58)

As for rhythmic effects, Voznesenskij often inserts a short line which is contrasted with the predominant longer lines of a poem so that the word (or words) in the short line is enhanced. This rhythmical surprise abruptly interrupts the anticipated flow of repeated lines of the same length in a poem….

For Voznesenskij, no definite boundary exists between verse and prose. On the one hand his poetry may be prosaic and may include mathematical formulas, technical words, slang, and substandard speech. On the other hand his prose may become poetic and even rhythmical…. The inclination to mix prose and poetry is especially evident in the volumes Treugol' naja grusa and Vzgljad, where poems are interspersed with fragmentary prose passages. At times prose sections may be included in a poem to emphasize an "antipoetic" personage or idea. (p. 158)

Since Voznesenskij is inclined to fuse poetry and prose, he not unexpectedly writes free verse. However, when his usage of graphic devices, "loose" forms of classical meters, and polymetrical verse is taken into account, he employs free verse less than might be anticipated. He has written only two short poems entirely in free verse …, and in most instances he includes a section of free verse in an otherwise metrical poem. Surprisingly, Voznesenskij does not devote as much attention to sound texture in his free verse as he does in his metrical poems…. Although the metrical spectrum of Voznesenskij's poetry is fairly broad (some thirty-five different verse forms) and his rhythmical virtuosity is immediately apparent, he has introduced no new meters into Russian versification. Basically he has contributed toward the further evolution of established meters and has continued "loosening" the prosody of classical meters, a loosening which was begun earlier in the century…. In particular Voznesenskij has intensified the action of regressive accentual dissimilation in most of his binary meters, the three-stress dol'nik, and binary meters with strong caesura, and he has spread this prosodic characteristic to several ternary meters. The fact that the iambic tetrameter and three-stress dol'nik are the most common meters in his poetry shows that a classical meter and a new freer twentieth-century form can easily coexist in the verse of a contemporary poet. The preponderance of classical meters and small amount of accentual verse in Voznesenskij's poetry show how unjustified are the frequently repeated assertions that he follows the rhythmical tradition of Majakovskij. Resemblances are more evident in the employment of graphic devices, types of rhymes, essentially simple four-line stanzaic forms, great attention devoted to sound texture, insertion of prose passages, and polymetrical verse…. Analysis of Voznesenskij's verse partially reveals which aspects of the modernist reform of Russian metrics in the beginning of the twentieth century have remained viable, and it once again demonstrates that versification is not static but changes and evolves as do all other features of poetry. (pp. 170-71)

James Bailey, "The Verse of Andrej Voznesenskij as an Example of Present-Day Russian Versification," in Slavic and East European Journal (© 1973 by AATSEEL of the U.S., Inc.), Vol. 17, No. 2, June, 1973, pp. 155-73.

Philippe Radley

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The theme of Voznesensky's [Vzgljad: Stixi i poèmy] is embodied in the multi meaning title (vzgljad can mean "look," "glance," "view," "opinion")….

The look is very vast in range. The book is something of a tour: through Russia, the USA, Canada, history. It is also a tour of verse: Voznesensky recounts his impressions of several modern American and Canadian poets, translating some of their verse along the way (his version of Robert Lowell's "Caligula" is a real tour de force). Curiously this whole section is, with the exception of the translations, in prose.

There is an air of news, of current events: everything seems very topical. It is as if Voznesensky is giving us a diary in verse. In this he resembles Lowell … whom he calls America's greatest poet. Both seem out to show that poetry, which communicates in ways other than prose, contributes to knowledge of the world and hence can be used as a topical medium.

The results here are mainly a matter of Voznesensky's deservedly famous virtuosity…. Voznesensky does puzzling things: "Ispoved'" and "Molitva Rezanova" are to a great degree the same poem presented in very different contexts. It is as if meaning were a lesser matter. Verse effects depend on other things. In Voznesensky's case this means irregular metrical patterns, approximate rhymes and a tremendous use of sound-effects. In the last poem, "Led," the title word is repeated dozens of times: the sound ends up reigning all alone.

There are puns and jokes, statements and questions. The suggestion is one of verbal fun as in his last book, Ten' zvuka (Shadow of Sound)…. Whether all this adds up to long-lasting depth is debatable, yet it seems the best Russian poetry now emerging from the USSR.

Philippe Radley, "World Literature in Review: 'Vzgljad: Stixi i poèmy'," in Books Abroad (copyright 1973 by the University of Oklahoma Press), Vol. 47, No. 4, Autumn, 1973, p. 789.

William Pratt

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Andrei Voznesensky has been one of the brightest stars of the Russian literary firmament for the past fifteen years and has enjoyed wide popularity abroad as well during most of that time. His poetry shines a biting wit on a sort of science-fiction fantasy of the modern world (or "antiworld," as he prefers to call it), and this is an arresting stylistic combination in any language…. [He has] inherited Mayakovsky's mantle as the Russian revolutionary satirist…. There is no American equivalent of Voznesensky, but if one imagined a blend of E. E. Cummings's verbal wit and Vachel Lindsay's platform drama, one might have a fair notion of Voznesensky's popular appeal.

At his best, Voznesensky can be brilliant in a calculatedly zany way, delighting in puns and ironic contrasts and commanding an international range of subjects, from the Paris Flea Market to the New York Airport, from Goya to Gogol. This jet-setter among poets displays all of his soaring and plunging imagination in [vypusti pticu!], though there are no poems in it as eye-catching as "Antiworlds" or "The Triangular Pear" of his earlier collections….

The veiled political implication of the title—"Set the Birds Free!" or "Let the Birds Out!" is bound to suggest a cry of freedom from inside Russia—is never fulfilled, and the poems have more to do with escaping from urban boredom than with escaping from a Russian prison or a Gulag Archipelago. The most overtly political poem in the collection is a tribute to the late Chilean poet Pablo Neruda—or rather, a diatribe called "Anathema" against those who overthrew the socialist government of Allende and thereby contributed indirectly to Neruda's death from cancer shortly thereafter. Voznesensky can be scathing, but seldom against his own country or its politics; his satire, for all its biting edge, is not as bitter as Mayakovsky's nor as purgative as Cummings's. He expresses admiration for Gogol but does not give evidence of possessing Gogol's savage pen. Still, if Voznesensky were more serious as a satirist, it is not likely that he would be so popular—nor so free. He does not wish to reform the world, but rather to play with its absurdities, to be outrageous without being outraged, and he is very good at the game.

William Pratt, "World Literature in Review: 'Vypusti pticu!'" in Books Abroad (copyright 1976 by the University of Oklahoma Press), Vol. 50, No. 1, Winter, 1976, p. 188.

R.D.B. Thomson

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Pasternak and Mayakovsky … have provided Voznesensky with so many models of poetic expression, and even values (moral and poetic), that at times his style seems to have been built entirely out of theirs. Their influences are particularly strong in his first three books,… but they can also be traced in his later collections. Very roughly, it may be said that Pasternak is felt primarily in the stylistic and technical aspects, Mayakovsky in the themes and vocabulary.

Voznesensky originally trained as an architect…. This provides a point of similarity with Pasternak, who also came to poetry via another art (in Pasternak's case, music). In both cases we have no juvenilia (poetry written before the age of twenty), and in both cases the early poetry is marked by unusual freshness and freedom from current conventions. (p. 41)

In Voznesensky's first two books the presence of Pasternak is frequently unmistakable. The resemblances consist primarily in the adherence to conventional metrical and stanzaic patterns (though Voznesensky is from the first freer than Pasternak, showing an especial interest in metres that evolve from one to another, here one might detect the influence of Tsvetayeva), the richness of sound-play, and the absorption of certain 'non-poetic' areas of vocabulary (colloquialisms, modernisms, and even technical words) into the flow of the verse; above all the word-order and syntax often fall into the characteristic Pasternak 'melody'…. The ideas behind the poem Gruzinskiye dorogi (1960), the Russian invasions of Georgia and the wealth of poetry that they inspired, can be traced back to the sixth section of Pasternak's Volny.

But despite these echoes of Vtoroye rozhdeniye, the Pasternak that Voznesensky mainly recalls in his early verse is primarily the Pasternak of the 1950s. This reflects not only the rediscovery of his work by the younger generation, but also the profound impact of his later poetry, especially that composed in the productive years 1956–7. These years coincided with Voznesensky's first steps in poetry. Particularly striking are the similarities in their use of the shorter lines, the iambic trimeter and the anapaestic dimeter. One can in fact insert stanzas of Voznesensky into Pasternak poems virtually unnoticed…. (pp. 42-3)

But there is one important difference between the two poets and this lies in the overall design of their poems. Pasternak's poems are dynamic; they develop from beginning to end. Even when the subject is apparently static, the poet is unfolding an idea…. One can seldom rearrange the stanzas in a Pasternak poem without destroying this sense of development and growth.

Voznesensky, on the other hand, is a curiously static poet. His poetry is full of exclamations to evoke excitement (the lyric poems in his first two books average almost four exclamation-marks per poem); his vocabulary is full of words that evoke speed: Motorscooters, motor-bikes, racing-track, TU-104, etc.; but this speed is observed and named rather than rendered. The artists that he mentions are primarily painters, Goya, Gauguin, Renoir, Rubens, and many others. Pasternak, on the other hand, tends to talk about musicians, especially Chopin, but also Skryabin, Grieg and Brahms. Music is an art that exists in time; painting and architecture exist in space. Poetry has affinities with both, but individual poets tend to gravitate towards one or the other. Voznesensky is much more concerned with shapes and surfaces and colour than with movement: the titles of his first two books are Mozaika and Parabola. (pp. 44-5)

In some cases, of course, this static character is essential to the poem. The poems Osen' (pre-1960) and Iz okna samoloyta (pre-1960) are concerned with a psychological state, from which there is apparently no way out; or a moment of happiness as in 'Ty s tyotkoy zhivyosh' …' (pre-1960). But apart from these comparatively rare instances, the static nature of Voznesensky's vision often creates difficulties in the design of a poem, and particularly with the endings. Sometimes his poems jump from one idea to another as in Kto ty? (1959) without any but the most casual connections between them. On other occasions Voznesensky arranges his poems in the form of 'panels'. Thus Lenin na tribune 18-ogo goda (pre-1960) displays three aspects of the title: the war, beggary, and finally Lenin as surgeon. The sections are formally linked by a refrain 'Tuk. Tuk. Tuk.', and the panels are so arranged as to create a climax at the end. But the climax is indicated by the subject-matter and the moral at the end, not by an actual development within the poem. In the same way Ballada raboty (1959) depicts the genius and industry (or 'sweat') of Peter the Great, then, in a second section that of artists such as Rubens and Rembrandt; in the final section (consisting of two lines), Voznesensky himself appears, also covered in sweat. The poem works by parallelism, not by development. It may be noted that even the longer poems Boy (pre-1960) and Mastera (1959) tend to unfold through a series of tableaux rather than by any development of theme or plot.

One of Voznesensky's ways of trying to make the end of his poems is to introduce a new and grandiose image. The poem Torguyut arbuzami (1956) is devoted to an evocation of the colour and noise around some melon-sellers; it ends with an exclamatory image of the world itself as a gigantic melon in a string-bag of longitudes and latitudes. This ending does not grow out of the preceding stanzas; it is a new image, intended to mark the end by sheer size and significance. But in fact it weakens the poem because it distracts attention away from the colour and vitality of the main part of the poem: was this richly sensuous scene intended merely to establish a metaphor? It is strange to combine the physical exuberance of a Rubens with the desire to treat it all as an image of something else. (pp. 46-7)

[The] device of ending the poem with a shift of focus often takes the form of a sudden, unexpected twist. The poem Tumannaya ulitsa (1959) is devoted to building up a metaphor, 'the fog of life'. It suddenly breaks off with a line that stands outside the rhyming and stanzaic pattern, and gives the impression even of contradicting the metre of the rest of the poem…. [Sometimes a] sudden shift of focus signals that the poem has ended rather than any process within the poem actually coming to an end. (pp. 47-8)

[A] complex use of this device is to be found in the poem Antimiry (1961), where the concept of anti-matter is illustrated in a variety of ways: Walter Mitty-like dreams, the duality of the Universe, the stupidity of literary critics, the inarticulateness of lovers, and, finally, once again, total scepticism about the whole idea. And here again, there is one more twist; Voznesensky sleeps, but his cat continues to explore the immateriality of matter…. Once again there is no development. The principle of the poem is stated at the outset (in the title), and the success of the poem depends on the number and variety of the illustrations. These illustrations confirm or question the validity of the main idea, but there is no development. The different sections could appear in a different order. Omissions would perhaps weaken the effect of the poem, but the addition of more such illustrations would only add to the fun.

This type of witty ending has many advantages—it enables Voznesensky to end his static poems effectively, and it evokes a picture of the poet, which appeals to contemporary taste—sceptical, sophisticated, and self-mocking; there is nothing like it in Pasternak or Mayakovsky, or the other poets of the 1920s to whom Voznesensky is often compared. (p. 49)

In the poem Vecher na stroyke (1960), Voznesensky echoes one of Mayakovsky's most insistent themes: that it is the ordinary workers who understand his poetry, and that it is only the Establishment critics who complain of its difficulty (or formalism). But on the evidence of Voznesensky's other works this theme is not a corner-stone of his art as it had been for Mayakovsky. It is perhaps significant, then, that this poem is one of the few in early Voznesensky with a developing and ordered argument.

The long poem, Mastera (1959), however, owes rather more to the Mayakovsky tradition. It opens with two dedications, one to the artist as eternal rebel and tribune, and the second to—or rather, against—all 'Tsars, tyrants, barbarians'. The subject of the poem is the legend that the builders of St Basil's Cathedral on Red Square were later blinded or executed by Ivan the Terrible. The ending sounds tragic and gory, but that is not quite how it works out in practice. The workmen are layabouts and drunkards; they have much more in common with such figures as Villon and Till Eulenspiegel than with the poet as martyr or tragic hero, as in the Russian tradition. Their rebellion against the established orthodoxies is not reasoned or serious or tragic (there is no obligation for it, of course, for it to be any of these things), but a variation on the romantic theme of the rebellion of youth against convention. The early death of the builders is not a tragic loss, but an echo of the romantic preference for a short but intense life over a lengthy and cautious one. At the end of the poem Voznesensky introduces himself: 'I, Voznesensky, belong to the same guild…'. Here the identification is justified by the style and values of the poem and the others round it.

As a matter of fact the rebelliousness hymned in this poem is not too prominent a feature of Voznesensky's verse. In all his books there are politically orthodox poems, poems about Lenin, about the Komsomol, about the virgin lands, and, in the early books, some rather cheap anti-religious poems. His challenge to accepted values is never radical: where Mayakovsky had urged that St Basil's be dynamited as a relic of the past, Voznesensky holds it up as a model of revolutionary art.

The most Mayakovskian of Voznesensky's books is Treugol'naya grusha (The Triangular Pear), which came out in 1962, the year after his tour of the United States. The comparison is not altogether to Voznesensky's disadvantage. (pp. 51-2)

[If] this book marks the climax of Voznesensky's fascination with modern technology, it marks also the beginning of his disillusionment with it. The book starts as though it is going to be about America, and then halfway through turns increasingly to the poet's memories of Russia. But Voznesensky does not fall into the trap of echoing the traditional Russian opposition between Western materialism and soullessness and Russian profundity and spirituality. Russia is not exalted in any facile way (except in the final poem Sekvoyya Lenina, which assures us that although the reactionaries of California have had Lenin's Sequoia chopped down, Lenin's ideas still flourish in America).

When Voznesensky expresses the familiar fear that behind all this technology Western man may have lost his soul, he is fully aware that the criticism could be applied to his own country. This awareness inspires some of the most interesting of the poems and is also reflected in the arrangement of the poems within the book. (p. 52)

The book as a whole avoids any easy solutions. There are some happier poems in which aesthetic values survive the onslaught of the twentieth century…. But in no sense do these poems offer solutions; they are there to set off the more pessimistic poems. In all, then, the book is a remarkable achievement, one which adds up to more than the sum of its parts. No conclusions or solutions may emerge from it, but it is unified by its subject-matter, and by the recurring theme of nature and technology. Even the most obvious 'structural defect' of the book, the split into the American and the Russian halves, can be justified as an illustration of the dilemma that the poet is talking about. (p. 54)

In the poetry written after his visit to the United States Voznesensky frequently recalls Mayakovsky in his image of the vulnerable poet (for example, in his use of 'krik'—scream), and the use of verbal fireworks as a sort of 'yellow blouse' to camouflage it. (p. 56)

The similarities and differences between the two poets are especially marked in the poem V dni neslykhanno bolevyye (1965)…. [Despite some] reservations the poem is a very fine one…. [There are] reminiscences of Mayakovsky's poems—the Russian poet as the victim of suicide or murder, the occasional desire to have no heart as a defence against life's torments and ultimately the conviction that the vulnerability of the artist is a cosmic injustice…. (pp. 56-7)

Now although the sentiments [in this poem] are typically Mayakovskian—one could find verbal parallels in Mayakovsky for almost every one of them—the expression is not Mayakovskian; the lyricism, the rhythmical flow are quite different from Mayakovsky. For Mayakovsky, poetry should, in principle, not concern itself with the sufferings of the poet; he sees the fascination of the theme quite clearly, but he tries to exorcize it through the toughness and prosaism of his poetry. For Voznesensky the pathetic vulnerability of the poet to human suffering and Philistinism … is a tradition in which he chooses to work; the ebb and flow of his rhythms seem not to be resisting this temptation, but almost to be yielding to it, even while denying it.

Voznesensky's relationship to Pasternak is superficial in a similar way. Pasternak's later poetry emphasizes the self-effacing nature of the poet, who is indeed frequently removed from the poem as it unfolds…. [Voznesensky's] flamboyance and his frequent introduction of himself into his poems, sometimes as a self-conscious poet placing himself in a tradition (as in Mastera and Ballada raboty), sometimes even to the detriment of the poem (as in Protivostoyaniye ochey) demonstrates that he may preach Pasternakian virtues, but he does not practise them. He often echoes the Pasternakian theme of the simplicity of great art …, but much of Voznesensky's own poetry—and increasingly so in his later books—has been wilfully obscure.

These comparisons are not intended as proof of Voznesensky's inferiority to his great predecessors…. The purpose is really to show that Voznesensky is not a sun of Russian poetry, but one of its planets, caught in the rival orbits of Pasternak and Mayakovsky. His originality is not to be denied, and there are several poems which could only have been written by Voznesensky, but it is an originality that consists of, and is to be appreciated as, a new combination of existing elements, not the creative originality of a poet of the order of Pasternak or Mayakovsky.

His last two books Ten' zvuka (1970) and Vzglyad (1972) seem to add little to Voznesensky's development. They contain more technical experimentation, and they also contain a great deal more self-display; the unpleasant features of all Voznesensky's work, occasional vulgarity and superficiality, and a disturbing weakness for name-dropping seem to have become rather more pronounced. But it may be that these are signs of a transitional stage, and that Voznesensky may yet establish his own individuality as a poet. (pp. 57-9)

R.D.B. Thomson, "Andrey Voznesensky: Between Pasternak and Mayakovsky," in The Slavonic and East European Review (© University of London (School of Slavonic and East European Studies), 1976; reprinted by permission of Cambridge University Press), Vol. 54, No. 1, January, 1976, pp. 41-59.

Joel Oppenheimer

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As always, [in Nostalgia for the Present] Voznesensky focuses on everyday reality—"rolling up the particular" to use Williams's phrase—and the poems are accordingly free of cant, both literary and political. There is an unfortunate stop-and-start quality to the procession of poems because of the different translators. This makes it difficult to settle down with and read straight through; but browsed, the book works splendidly.

A major section of the book is devoted to "Story Under Full Sail."… This work shows Voznesensky in a new dimension, handling the long poem. It is solid, full of beauty and insight, and very exciting….

Voznesensky, always the most accessible of the contemporary Russian poets, is served well by this book, and so are we.

Joel Oppenheimer, "Books: 'Nostalgia for the Present: Poems'," in The Village Voice (reprinted by permission; copyright © 1978), Vol. XXIII, No. 48, November 27, 1978, p. 106.

Richmond Lattimore

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Voznesensky is widely traveled and widely acquainted…. His range and variety are amazing; but a constant theme is that of elusiveness within the chosen subject, the feeling of something known to be there which can not be caught. "I long not for art—I choke on my craving for reality" (from the title poem [of Nostalgia for the Present]), almost as if sometimes, like Marianne Moore sometimes, he actually disliked poetry. And there is something, whether in his frequent colloquialisms, or diffuse composition, or the rhyming stanzas, that resists transformation into any final expression as poetry in English…. Sometimes, again, as in "Winter at the Track," I find the Russian fancy just too fantastic for this literal and visual mind. This volume also has one long narrative poem, "Story Under Full Sail."… [A] poem full of brilliant pieces, which, however, have to have notes and commentary before they can be really put together. Unlike "Snow in Tokyo," this is a story-telling whose parts surpass the whole. (pp. 453-54)

Richmond Lattimore, "Poetry Chronicle," in The Hudson Review (copyright © 1979 by The Hudson Review, Inc.; reprinted by permission), Vol. XXXII, No. 3, Autumn, 1979, pp. 441-54.∗


Voznesensky, Andrei (Vol. 1)