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A Man Only Needs A Room

Vladimir Gandelsman, poet of Leningrad and then of New York City, has a lion’s presence but a classical style. His formal mastery is a powerful and sophisticated lens that sharpens the gritty realism in many of his works. The translators of this volume—two of them also émigré poets—approach his works from a variety of directions, rendering both prose and poetry with energetic sympathy. Very much worth the attention of readers and lovers of literature!

   –Sibelan Forrester, co-editor, Russian Silver Age Poetry: Texts and Contexts


Vladimir Gandelsman’s poetry brings to its reader a unique combination of mastery and revelation. He develops the tradition of Russian modernism into a unique world of elegant sound and desperate howl about the tragedy of our time, and that peculiar kind of despair brought upon an individual by the condition of loneliness and honesty. Unique beauty is united in this verse with irony and playfulness: Gandelsman's poetry is heartbreaking and healing at the same time, filled with the bitter energy of exile and its discoveries.

   – Polina Barskova, author, Besieged Leningrad: Aesthetic Responses to Urban Disaster


Vladimir Gandelsman is one of the few contemporary Russian poets who productively develops classical traditions. His work is like a gold reserve that can be called upon in the event of a default. Gandelsman could be called a poet for the literature scholar, but he is too cheerful and in love with life for that. He could be called a St. Petersburg poet–if he did not live at the other end of the world... But poetry is made of contradictions, and that works well in Gandelsman’s case. 

    – Maria Galina, poet, writer, and literary critic, Odesa, Ukraine


About the Author

Vladimir Gandelsman is the author of twenty poetry collections in Russian and numerous translations of American and British poets into Russian. He has received the Moskovsky Schet, one of Russia’s most prestigious awards for poetry, as well as the Liberty Award for outstanding contributions to Russian-American culture and the development of cultural relations between Russia and the United States. Born in 1948 in Leningrad (currently St. Petersburg), Gandelsman wrote for the literary underground while working jobs such as as a tour guide, security guard, factory worker, and mover. In 1990, he moved to the United States, where he became highly regarded by Joseph Brodsky and Tomas Venclova. While most Russophone immigrant poets have remained bound to the traditions of Russian poetry, Gandelsman has maintained an interest in British and American literature. He has translated works as different as Macbeth and Dr. Seuss’s poems for children, poetry by Louise Glück and Anthony Hecht, and these endeavors have influenced his work. 

About the Translators

Anna Halberstadt is a poet and a translator from Russian, Lithuanian and English. Her poetry in English is widely anthologized and published in journals such as Caliban, Cimarron Review, and Literary Imagination. Her work has been translated into Lithuanian, Ukrainian, Serbian, Tamil and Bengali. A bilingual author, she is the author of four collections of poetry: Vilnius Diary and Green in a Landscape with Ashes are in English, while Transit and The Gloomy Sun are in Russian. She is the translator of three books into Russian: Selected, Selected by Eileen Myles and Nocturnal Fire by Edward Hirsch (from English), and Spring Equals Love by Aushra Kaziliunaite (from Lithuanian). Halberstadt has guest-edited two volumes of Russian poetry in English translation for The Café Review (2019 and 2021). In 2016, she received the International Merit Award from the Atlanta Review, as well as a prize for her poetry from the Russian literary journal Children of Ra. Persona PLUS journal named her the 2017 Translator of the Year for her translation of Bob Dylan’s poem “Brownsville Girl.” In Lithuanian translation, Vilnius Diary was one of the top ten books published in Lithuania in 2017, as named by the Lithuanian news site Lt.15. It was also chosen for the list of most important books in translation in 2017 by the Lithuanian Translators Association. Her book of selected poems in Lithuanian translation, Transit, was named one of the top 15 poetry books of 2020 by Lt.15. Woman as an Object of Deconstruction (Russian) is forthcoming from Inversia in 2022; Snowstorm in March (English), from Mad Hat Press, in 2023; and a collection of Adam Zagajewski’s poems Transformacija, translated by Anna into Russian, is forthcoming from Free Poetry (2022). 


Olga Livshin's poetry and translations appear in the New York Times, Ploughshares, the Kenyon Review, and other journals. As an essayist, she is published in Poetry International, Pocket Samovar, and other journals. Livshin is the author of A Life Replaced: Poems with Translations from Anna Akhmatova and Vladimir Gandelsman (Poets & Traitors Press, 2019).  Today is a Different War by the Ukrainian poet Lyudmyla Khersonska is forthcoming in her translation, with Maya Chhabra, Lev Fridman, and Andrew Janco from Arrowsmith Press in 2023. She holds a PhD in Slavic languages and literature and taught at the university level until switching to teaching and practicing creative writing.

Andrew Janco’s translations are included in the anthology Words for War: New Poems from Ukraine (Academic Studies Press, 2017) and the poetry collection by Boris and Lyudmyla Khersonsky The Country Where Everyone’s Name is Fear (Lost Horse Press, 2022). The New York Times, Ploughshares, and other journals have published his translations. With Olga Livshin, Maya Chhabra, and Lev Fridman, he is the co-translator of Today is a Different War by the Ukrainian poet Lyudmyla Khersonska (Arrowsmith Press, 2023). Janco holds a PhD in history with a focus on the Soviet Union. He works as a digital scholarship programmer at the University of Pennsylvania libraries.

New Meridian Arts

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