Tuesday, August 11, 2009

More animal sightings

If, as Pushkin said, translators are the posthorses of enlightenment, F. D. Reeve is the fleetest, sweetest of the breed you could ever hope to see kicking up his heels at the Samovar. Early on a recent Friday evening, there he was.

At 80+ years of age, Reeve has done and continues to do more than perhaps any single translator to bring 20th- and 21st-century Russian poetry and prose into English—in spite of being gifted enough simply to roam the earth in the guise of an animal much sleeker than a posthorse, namely, the Blue Cat, Reeve's poetic alter ego.

Far to the left are F.D. Reeve with his wife,the scholar and childrens' writer L.C. Stevenson. To the middle and right, the elusive muses of many, many Russian and/or Ukrainian cultural projects S.K. Harris and G.K. Warnecke (whose photos these are), and right of them all Reeve's fellow cat, Roman Kaplan, looking as if he just ate the canary. Was that on the menu?

You can find out more about F. D. Reeve from his very own website. Hear him read his poetry if you possibly can. F.D., when and where will that be?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Book Party for Michael Idov

Michael Idov is that rara avis who, having failed in the so-called «real» world, has been forced back into his day job as a novelist. Ground Up, loosely based on Idov's Lower East Side coffeehouse dream-turned-fiasco, has its release party at the Russian Samovar this Tuesday, August 4th, at 7pm. The lessons of failure must taste sweet to Idov, though, as his novel already basks in lots of praise, including that of a sort of literary uncle, Gary Shteyngart, who claims he «drank it right up» and found it «charming, manic and delicious.» Although I haven't yet read the book, I have my own personal theory about why Idov's coffeehouse failed, namely, that he idiotically called it «Café Trotsky,» giving the impression that it was a filthy hole where you would go to smoke a lot of cigarettes and talk revolution for hours over the single glass of tea you and your foul-smelling comrades could afford, when what Idov really hoped the masses would do was grab three or four cappucinos to go, every day. And then there are the depressing associations with Trotsky's untimely and gruesome demise at the hands of an NKVD (precursor to the KGB) agent in Mexico. Bad karma. But what do I know about what's in a name? I was convinced post-911 America would never elect a guy named Barack Hussein Obama to the presidency. Anyway, if you miss what will surely be a fun and elegant book party this Tuesday, Idov's doing a reading at the KGB bar in September.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Tonight at the Samovar!

Poet and prose writer Vadim Mesyats will read his poetry and, who knows, perhaps sing his folk and/or somewhat dirty songs (частушки), at 6pm this evening, Sunday, August 2. For a preview, check out this jazz-infused performance. Probably in Russian.