Read The Stray Dog Cabaret: A Book of Russian Poems by Paul Schmidt Catherine Ciepiela Honor Moore Online


A New York Review Books OriginalA master anthology of Russia’s most important poetry, newly collected and never before published in EnglishIn the years before the 1917 Russian Revolution, the Stray Dog cabaret in St. Petersburg was the haunt of poets, artists, and musicians, a place to meet, drink, read, brawl, celebrate, and stage performances of all kinds. It has since bA New York Review Books OriginalA master anthology of Russia’s most important poetry, newly collected and never before published in EnglishIn the years before the 1917 Russian Revolution, the Stray Dog cabaret in St. Petersburg was the haunt of poets, artists, and musicians, a place to meet, drink, read, brawl, celebrate, and stage performances of all kinds. It has since become a symbol of the extraordinary literary ferment of that time. It was then that Alexander Blok composed his apocalyptic sequence “Twelve”; that the futurists Velimir Khlebnikov and Vladimir Mayakovsky exploded language into bold new forms; that the lapidary lyrics of Osip Mandelstam and plangent love poems of Anna Akhmatova saw the light; that the electrifying Marina Tsvetaeva stunned and dazzled everyone. Boris Pasternak was also of this company, putting together his great youthful hymn to nature, My Sister, Life. It was a transforming moment—not just for Russian but for world poetry—and a short-lived one. Within little more than a decade, revolution and terror were to disperse, silence, and destroy almost all the poets of the Stray Dog cabaret....

Title : The Stray Dog Cabaret: A Book of Russian Poems
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ISBN : 9781590171912
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 168 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Stray Dog Cabaret: A Book of Russian Poems Reviews

  • Khashayar Mohammadi
    2019-01-31 03:13

    I am no stranger to the melancholy stupor of Russian literature, but the last thirty pages of this book were so poetically grotesque that it eloquently made me lose hope in all of humanity.The poems are dark, yes.Pessimism permeates every page, yes.But after reading Esenin's suicide poem, followed by Mayakovsky's ode to Esenin, followed by Mayakovsky's own suicide poem, followed by Tsvetaeva's ode to both Mayakovsky and Esenin's death, I damn near slit my own wrist.Its a phenomenal collection of poetry, but if you're depressed, this might put you on suicide watch.

  • Ben Winch
    2019-01-24 07:22

    This is brief, but really something special. Its aim is modest - to represent a night at the Stray Dog Cabaret, a poetry club in St Petersburgh in the years before the 1917 revolution - but it fulfills that aim admirably, and in doing so bears testament to a golden age of Russian poetry. That all these talents could have been present in one room at one time seems scarcely credible, and points to a flowering of culture that we may never truly comprehend given that it was subsequently trampled beneath the boot of Stalinism. Is it coincidence, this raising of voices on the eve of destruction? I think not, and yet these poems seem, for the most part, touchingly innocent of the violence to come. The young Akhmatova, it's true, shines brightest - and we sense the love of her fellow poets for this prodigy - but all around is creativity of the highest order, eclipsed in our cultural memory by the Cabaret Voltaire perhaps only because, after all, this is Russia - a place more foreign than Switzerland could ever be - and because these voices seem to come to us from another epoch, an alternate reality even, in which they groped forward towards a modernity that was never to be, a Russia they saw only in their imaginations. In a culture that celebrates the Beats ad nauseum yet knows next to nothing of the Stray Dog Cabaret, this little book is a cause for celebration. And if we take as a given that it contains seeds which sadly never germinated, mightn't we use it to cultivate a new strain of our own poetry, and take a rest from our endless, incestuous sifting through the many-times planted seeds of our own culture?Sisters, brothers, welcome to the Stray Dog Cabaret. If you'll grab yourself a drink and take a seat, the proceedings will begin.

  • Jennifer Haydon
    2019-02-19 03:16

    some of my favorite parts:"Nights burn with unknown constellationsin the transparent heavens of july." anna akhmatova"... to be, but by deceit: to strike yourself from latitudes.To slip through time as through the seaand not to break the waves." marina tsvetaeva"For - no more splendidsuperfluous words - love is a seam.A seam, not a sling, a seam, not a shield(oh, don't ask to be shielded!)A seam - dead people are sewn to the groundand I am sewn to you.(Time will show what the seam was like:a simple stitch or triple.)Cut as you like, my dear, you must tearon a seam. Wave the pieces in the air!It's good at least that you tore,didn't just let it unravel.That the broken basting shows a livered vein, not something rotting away." marina tsvetaeva

  • Janet
    2019-01-24 00:21

    During the years 1912 to 1915, the greatest flowering of Russian poetry since Pushkin's day centered in a two room cellar nightclub in Petersburg. Akhmatova, Mandelstam, Mayakovsky, Blok, Khlebnikov, Esenin to name a few, plus Muscovites Tsvetaevna and Pasternak made it their clubhouse. Freely translated for dramatic impact, Schmidt's project's intention is to deliver the essence of these poets to a general American audience looking to understand "what's the big deal" about these particular artistic colossi. If you ever wondered about these poets, this book gives you a great introduction. Set up like a conversation at the cabaret, each poem "speaks" to the others, so it's more like a show than a traditional anthology, the back and forth between the poems is an innovative way to go. However, the translations themselves really take liberties with the poems, crunching 3 stanzas into one, cutting the length of poems often by a third or more, inserting completely imagined lines... if you enjoy this collection, I'd urge you to find the more sensitive, accurate translations to see the truest beauty and genius of these poets.

  • jeremy
    2019-02-19 02:17

    this is the moment they told us would come some daywhen there's nobody left alive to hear what we say.the world is no longer the place it used to still, don't break my heart. be silent, poetry. ~anna akhmatova 1917

  • Danielle Ruse
    2019-02-15 01:19

    Oh Anna Akhmatova, I found her at just the right moment. Sarah Keliher (esteemed bibliophile and colleague at Orca Books) pressed a used penguin paperback of her work into my hand one dreary winter evening when I was grey and dragging. I read the words without knowing anything of her or The Stray Dog Cabaret, and was fed by them, love poems and ruminations. I discovered Marina Tsvetaeva in much the same way (Sarah, rain) a few months later, and both women seemed to me reaching out, responding, participating, but as I'm not one to read the back of books (ugh, impressions) I never made the connection of their relationship, of their part in this major historical movement.This excellent, slim NYRB volume contains the correspondence I was missing, the back and forth lit party readings of the Stray Dog Cabaret in St. Petersburg just before the revolution, and the meeting of minds such as the world rarely sees.Take an afternoon to read it. The few love poems back and forth between Aleksander Blok and Akhmatova are wonderful, and so is the crackle of change, or stasis too long left, that exists between the pages.

  • the gift
    2019-02-12 05:23

    really really like this poetry, it is only a four because it is translated, do not know Russian, do not know enough poetry to judge- but then maybe this is better, to enjoy the work, independent of time or style or language or theory. so maybe it is a five, sometimes, when the the world is no longer the place it used to be...

  • Jesse
    2019-02-18 02:27

    hough!!! a little poetical punch in the gut! a wonderful collection of russion poets who congregated at the stray dog cabaret in old st. pete's. the poetry is inventive, fantastical, but most of all vital. from conversations with the sun, to suicide notes written in blood, the collection is rather diverse. my only complaint would be paul schmidt's translation: while i don't read russian i tracked down a few other translations and used some deductive reasoning, to infer that schmidt did alot of creative translating; or, as nabokov calls it: paraphrasing. and even worse he makes wholesale STRUCTURAL decisions, deleting stanzas, morphing 3 stanzas into one, etc. the good news is the editor is kind enough to tell you when he is doing so, thus you can seek out something more literal if you like (assuming you can find another translation; while the poets are somewhat famous, all of there poems aren't). this whole issue makes me nervous about schmidt's rimbaud translations, so that was another bummer. but alas, the wondrous poems herein make up for all the translational nitpicking i can muster. please find, and please enjoy: we shine and we don't know why, that is the motto of the sun and i!

  • Vincent
    2019-02-15 06:34

    More an imagined conversation between the great poets of the Silver Age than anything, Schmidt takes liberties but the results are fantastic. A great intro to early 20th century poetry with some stunning moments.

  • Rachel
    2019-02-05 23:16

    A nearly perfect anthology: consistently wonderful poems, a thoughtful introduction, a passionate and talented translator, and a fluid structure. Thank you bringing this back into print, NYRB.

  • Carol
    2019-01-29 00:27

    To Alexander BlokI had gone to see the poetAt exactly noon on Sunday.His room was bare and quiet.It was very cold outside.The raspberry sunlightMade smoky streaks of shadowAnd my host said very little-All he did was look at me.His eyes were so astonishingThey still compel my memory,And I thought, I must be carefulNot to look at them at all.But I recall our conversationAnd the sunlight and the shadowIn a tall house built of graniteWhere the river meets the sea.Anna AkhmatovaJanuary 1914____I'd like to live with youin some small town, in never-ending twilightand the endless sound of bells.And in the little town's hotelthe thin chime of an antique clock,like little drops of time.And sometimes, evenings, from some attic room,a flute,a flute player by a window.And huge tulips at the windows.And if you didn't love me, I wouldn't even mind...In the middle of a room, a great tile stove,and a picture on every tile:a heart, a sailboat, a rose.And out beyond our only windowsnow, snow, snow.You'd lie around the way I like you: lazy,indifferent, unconcerned.Once or twice the harsh crackof a match.Your cigarette flares and then burns down,and trembling, trembling at its tipa short gray stump-the ashyou're too lazy to shake away-and the cigarette flies into the fire.Marina TsvetaevaDecember 10, 1916

  • Anjle
    2019-02-13 03:35

    Marina Tsvetaeva's "Poem for the End" is printed here in its entirety - something the introduction claims you cannot find elsewhere.Paul Shmidt is a talented and dedicated translator, and his methods are explained in the introduction, which is both useful and interesting. Poems featured date from 1906 to 1937 (with an ending poem by Anna Akhmatova ca.1957). Interesting insight to a poet's view of the Bolshevik Revolution, and a wide range of poetic style. I did not put it down.

  • Corinne Wahlberg
    2019-02-02 05:19

    This book has inspired me to open up a cabaret in New Orleans and call it The Stray Dog Cabaret. It'll be just like the one in turn of the century Russia, except these poets won't commit suicide.I love the Russians. This is a fabulous book of poetry, not only because of the original poets, but the translations are well adapted for the audience. I love this book of poetry probably above all others I've read.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-01-26 00:28

    This was an incredible anthology, and I really can't say enough about it. All of the poems are wonderful, and the translations are masterful - they were lovely to read, and I got a deeper appreciation for Paul Schmidt's skill from the editors' introduction. It was everything that a poetry anthology should be, and gave a real sense of the artistic and historical moment. I will return to this one again and again!

  • S.
    2019-01-24 04:33

    Akhmatova is clearly superior here, although I also enjoyed many of the other poems, especially by Mandelstam and Tsvetaeva. Still, on the whole I found the collection very dramatic in a way that didn't appeal to me. I imagine the performance would give the poems more power and passion - there's something that isn't conveyed on the page.

  • A
    2019-01-31 03:33

    So: the editing is very good- it's a well put together, concise anthology. But the translations (imo) sometimes left a lot to be desired and you get the impression that the book was began without a clear idea of the scope of the project

  • Joe
    2019-01-20 23:19

    Best collection of poetry featuring multiple poets I've ever read. Buy it, you'll read it cover to cover. Black and vivid and startling and personal and sad.

  • Kelly
    2019-02-19 04:13

    A moving collection of poems from artists who expressed their personal experiences during a traumatic time in Russian history.

  • Kiki Unhinged
    2019-02-05 06:40

    A moving collection of poems from artists who expressed their personal experiences during a traumatic time in Russian history.

  • Linda Liu
    2019-02-01 02:38


  • Cat Lilly
    2019-02-11 01:18

    This translation seemed awkward