I've long been fascinated by Isadora Duncan's later career. After the 1917 October Revolution, she moved to the Soviet Union, where she opened a dance school for girls. She married the poet Sergei Esenin, drank to excess, and then, when the state failed to fund her school sufficiently, undertook a deliciously scandalous tour of the USA.


Today I heard that my parents might be coming for a visit. That sent me into a cleaning tizzy. While I scrub and scour, I've been thinking about poems that capture the intimate ritual relationship between people and the things that populate their domestic spaces.


Kopna means stook or haycock. Skird means rick. I'm looking up words in my trusty Russian-English dictionary, and things remain clear as mud. Sometimes translation from one language to another is only a prelude to figuring out what a text says.


For Christmas my parents gave me a Kindle. I've been downloading all sorts of bad-for-the-brain but oh-so-fun fiction by Charlaine Harris, Jim Butcher, etc. Haven't thought boo about Russian poetry for more than a week.What to write about then? Inspired by Alec Hanley Bemis's recent post, I've decided to offer my own end-of-the-year list. Maybe others here at Arcade will do the same?


This week I'm far from the mountains, orcas, and raincoat-clad hipsters of the Pacific Northwest. To visit family, I've traveled to a Midwestern cornfield. I've brought along Ivan Turgenev's play Mesiats v derevne (A Month in the Country) (1850) to keep me company.


Today during coverage of Dubai's debt crisis I heard for the umpteenth time since the recession began a reporter mention "the old Chinese curse 'may you live in interesting times.'"  This is one of my pet peeves.  This "curse" isn't Chinese in origin, and it's not that old.


In a few weeks I'm going to Illinois to see my niece Ellie for the first time.  I'm sitting up late tonight trying to imagine my younger sister as a mother.  It's not easy.  To me she's still the girl whose biggest aspiration in life was to own the newest Strawberry Shortcake doll.


In her recent post about a conference on Futurism at SFMOMA, Marjorie Perloff raises several important literary-historical questions.  One of them:  To what extent do a writer's noxious political opinions require us to construe as suspicious his or her activities and affiliations earlier in life?


I might be a specialist in twentieth-century American poetry, but in my spare time late at night I have been translating Russian verse.  Since neither the TV nor the cat care, this blog has provided a welcome outlet for sharing my discoveries.  My current fixation is the poet Afanasii Fet (1820-1892).


This week's reading has been Boris Bukhshtab's A.A. Fet: ocherk zhizni i tvorchestva (Leningrad 1974), a short survey of the life and works of Afanasii Fet, a mid-to-late nineteenth-century Russian poet whose name might be unfamiliar to American audiences but some of whose verse is nonetheless absolutely first-rate.


Brian Reed's picture
Brian Reed
Professor of English
Brian Reed is Chair of English and Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Cinema, and Media at the University of Washington, Seattle. He is the author of three books--Hart Crane: After His Lights (2006), Phenomenal Reading: Essays on Modern and Contemporary Poetics (2012), and Nobody's Business: Twenty-First Century Avant-Garde Poetics (2013)--and the co-editor of two essay collections, Situating El Lissitzky: Vitebsk, Berlin, Moscow (2003) and Modern American Poetry: Points of Access (2013). A new book, A Mine of Intersections: Writing the History of Contemporary American Poetry, is forthcoming in 2016.


Nobody's Business: Twenty-First Century Avant-Garde Poetics
Cornell University Press | 2013
Phenomenal Reading: Essays on Modern and Contemporary Poetics
University of Alabama Press | 2012
Hart Crane: After His Lights
University of Alabama Press | 2006

Brian Reed is reading

Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics