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Books / Four volumes. Volume III. Poetica (2010)
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The third volume of the four-volume selected works of Olga Sedakova continues the centuries-old tradition of the poet’s thoughts on poetry – the volume is entitled Poetica, a reference to Classical examples such as Aristotle’s Poetica or Horace’s Ars poetica (followed in more recent times by the “poetology” of Rilke, Claudel and Eliot). The volume includes texts on poetry, poetics and individual Russian poets. These pieces are written in various styles, ranging from near formal philological scholarship to radio interviews and short reviews.

The volume opens with “In Praise of Poetry,” which can be read as a magnificent Künstlerroman, a self-portrait of the poet becoming a poet. One of the most interesting themes in the essay is the first encounter with names, the pre-linguistic experience of infancy. This piece, the earliest in the volume, poses a number of questions that continue to be discussed in later essays and papers. The second section consists of essays that contain general reflections on the nature of poetry, a view of poetry in the light of philosophy. The works in the third section discuss questions of form and poetic technique; special attention is paid to the aural aspect of poetry (poetry seen in an analytical light). In the sections that follow, Sedakova stands as interlocutor with her predecessors and as witness to her own era. Articles and essays focusing on the history of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Russian poetry form the fourth section, while the fifth section contains an excursus on the poetics of prose: Sedakova here traces the movement of the one plot motif in three variations. A testimony of paramount importance is found in the sixth section, with texts that interpret the free Russian poetry of the twentieth century as an act of resistance. The final section consists of sketches of Sedakova’s contemporaries, Russian poets of the 1970s-1990s: Joseph Brodsky, Leonid Aronzon, Viktor Krivulin, Aleksandr Velichansky, Vladimir Lapin, Gennady Aigi and Elena Shvarts.
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