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Terreson Profile
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Poem Without a Hero by Anna Akhmatova



A week ago yesterday, Friday, I was getting hurled through space at an altitude of 28,000 feet and at a speed of 800 mph, in route from Williston, N.D. to Denver, CO. It was night. Sleep on a plane, train, in a car, or a motel room is an impossibility for me. That much more reason to always travel with books of poetry.

In my side pack, friends call it a murse, I had a book of selected poems in translation by Anna Akhmatova. And I had the uninterrupted hours in which to read, for the first time, her long poem, a trilogy, Poem Without A Hero. First started in 1940 during the siege of Leningrad, St. Petersburg, and either finished or abandoned in 1960, the poem tells the tale of a Russian poet some say was the soul of Russia, others say spoke to the soul of Russia. Not sure about the difference. Poem speaks to the scene, rich and decadent, poet would have known before the Bolsheviks. Speaks also to the modern, communist state scene. Speaks to the Stalinist horrors and to the siege of Leningrad. Only, the poet is cagey. No social realism here. She draws on poets and lovers and children and neighborhoods and streets and the sea.

In current parlance, Akhmatova might be derisevely tagged a Confessional poet. If this poem is what Confessional poetry is about, bearing the personal, passionate witness, and it is, I am for the confessional in poetry.

Joseph Stalin, author of the purges, did not hate Anna Akhmatova. He was deathly afraid of her. He could not touch her. He could not send her off to one of his Siberian camps. She was too well loved. And he was haunted by the idea she might be a great poet. Possibility drove him to distraction. He regularly asked of state owned poets if she was great. Answer always came back the same: yes she was. An early Soviet era poet, Vladimir Mayakovsky, once confessed that in public he trashed Akhmatova's name while, in private, he read her and wept. Mayakovsky would die young, age 37, at his own hands. While Stalin couldn't touch Anna he could punish her. He made sure she was barred from the Soviet Writers Union. She lived in poverty for most of her life. He also consigned her one son, Lev, to the camps. He died there. Think on that for a moment. A poet made to choose between her son and her poetry.

Here is a link to her poem. Reading will require the investment.

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Tere
Oct/8/2011, 5:07 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
libramoon Profile
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Re: Poem Without a Hero by Anna Akhmatova


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"Nobel Laureate Joseph Brodsky studied poetry with renowned Russian poet Anna Akhmatova, who soon recognised the young writer's gift. Convicted at the age of 24 for being a "social parasite", Brodsky served his sentence from March 1964 to November 1965 in a forced labour camp in Arkhangelsk, northern Russia." ...
Oct/8/2011, 5:43 pm Link to this post Send Email to libramoon   Send PM to libramoon Blog
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: Poem Without a Hero by Anna Akhmatova


This is why I like this board. Did not know Brodsky was a protege of Akhmatova. A connection, n'est pas?

Tere
Oct/8/2011, 6:54 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Re: Poem Without a Hero by Anna Akhmatova


Apparently she was instrumental in getting him freed, and to the US where he did much better. I only recently discovered this story, and it blows me away. Thanks for giving me the entry to land for a bit of reflection.
Oct/8/2011, 7:20 pm Link to this post Send Email to libramoon   Send PM to libramoon Blog
 


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