Poetry at the Post, Day 19: Chuvash Poet, Gennady Aygi

“Five Matryoskas”by Gennady Aygi, as translated by Sarah Valentine

Russian-Matroshka Dolls  CC BY-SA 3.0
Russian-Matroshka Dolls
CC BY-SA 3.0

with an idea
You surround us
as with silk

When I was a child I had a set of Russian Matryoshka Dolls. I’m not sure who gave them to me, or whatever happened to them but I used to love playing with these wooden dolls, nesting and un-nesting them. Who knows? Perhaps these little dolls were the spark that guided me to major in Russian.

“Gennady Aygi (1934-2006) is widely considered to be one of the great avant-garde poets from the former Soviet Union.” The starkness of his poetry attracts me. In “Five Matryoshkas, a poem inspired by the birth of Aygi’s son, we begin in the center of the nest and move outward—in a series of five fragmentary moments. Each section is like each doll in itself—complete.

Here’s a video of Sarah Valentine reading a selection of Aygi’s poems:

Into The Snow, Selected Poems of Gennady Aygi, Translated by Sarah Valentine, Wave Books, 2011

And, an interview with Sarah Valentine by Tim Johnson on Marfa Public Radio:

Some great photos of the people of the Chuvash Republic: