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Yankelevich, Matvei

This paper will focus on contemporary bilingual Russian-American poets, the Russophone children of the Third Wave — poets who (in print and in performance) rehearse or confront American notions of accent, of “Russianness,” of bilingual experience, and bring up questions about the representations and marketing of Russian-American identity in post-Cold War America. Thus, special attention will be paid to the cultural framing of these poets in the context of American poetic discourse and the manner in which they are published and presented. The complicated relationship between Russian and English poetic principles, tropes, and modes comes to light most perceptibly in the English-language works of these poets born in the Soviet Union but living in the United States: Ilya Bernstein, Ilya Kaminsky, Natalie Lyalin, Philip Nikolayev, Eugene Ostashevsky, and Genya Turovskaya. The close readings of their poems presented here intend to shed light on the complex relationship of Russian-Americans of this generation to their Russian (and Soviet) backgrounds, and their anxious position in regard to previous waves and generations of Russian émigrés.

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Harriman Institute
Published Here
September 20, 2013