Voronezh Notebooks assembles newly-translated poems from Osip Mandelstam, all of which were written during his infamous exile, just before he was sent to his death in a labor camp. This is indispensible reading for Mandelstam fans and for readers, students, and scholars of twentieth-century Russian poetry.
Osip Mandelstam (1891-1938) was born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia, and published his first poems in the avant-garde magazine, Apollyon. As an established poet, Mandelstam was unpopular with Soviet authorities and found it increasingly difficult to publish his poetry. In 1934, after reading an epigram denouncing Stalin to friends, Mandelstam was arrested and sent into exile in Voronezh. In 1938, he was arrested again and sentenced to a camp in Siberia. He died that same year in a transit camp. The Selected Poems of Osip Mandelstam is available as an NYRB Classic. Andrew Davis is a poet, cabinetmaker and visual artist. His current project is the long poem IMPLUVIUM. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico and on the north coast of Spain.
"Throughout Voronezh Notebooks, Mandelstam seems energized by an uncontainable joy in his dangerous disobedience. 'Fear makes it beautiful, ' he says of his frozen surroundings. 'Something terrible might occur.'...Andrew Davis's translation is vibrant and densely lyrical. More than his predecessors, he brings out a playful, gnomic quality in Mandelstam's verse that calls to mind Emily Dickinson. He beautifully evokes a voice unafraid to burn itself out in the passion of creation." --Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal "Mandelstam's poems are both bold and delicate. His imagery can seem both profoundly startling yet entirely natural. More than any other translator, Andrew Davis succeeds in reproducing all of these qualities." --Robert Chandler "Mandelstam was a tragic figure. Even while in exile in Voronej, he wrote works of untold beauty and power. And he had no poetic forerunners...In all of world poetry, I know of no other such case. We know the sources of Pushkin and Blok, but who will tell us from where that new, divine harmony, Mandelstam's poetry, came from?" --Anna Akhmatova "Russia's greatest poet in this century." --Joseph Brodsky "It is one thing to discover internal unity in a scholar's quiet career, quite another to find it in the works of a man subjected to years of harassment, terrorization, exile and proscription. In circumstances as hostile as those in the Soviet State, [Mandelstam] was forced to sacrifice everything...in order that this gift survive as it was meant to." --Sven Birkerts, The Iowa Review