GLORIOUS: Digital Poetry in Today’s Russia

Investigator: Dr Josephine von Zitzewitz

This project is funded by ERC Horizon2020 (MSCA-Individual Fellowship)

 

GLORIOUS investigates two related phenomena:

 Russian Poetry on the Web

Internet literature – “seteratura” (set’= web and literatura= literature) – has been the most significant literary phenomenon in Russia during the past 15 years. “Seteratura” thrives because, historically, the Russian literary scene features far fewer small presses than e.g. the UK and the USA. Moreover, Russia has no strong copyright culture, and web publication is not considered inferior or an impediment to print publication. The “seteratura” boom takes place on various platforms: online journals that function much like print journals, with editorial committees and submission procedures; specialist repository sites such as Novaia literaturnaia karta Rossii (http://www.litkarta.ru/), which features authors, journals and other literary projects, and individual authors’ channels on social media such as VKontakte, Facebook and YouTube.

The medium of the internet, especially social media, has a major impact on the mechanisms of publication as well as on the texts themselves, making possible genre hybrids where the text is supplemented with, or exclusively represented by, elements of performance, music and visual art. The presentation of such poems is semantically charged; they cannot be simply read aloud or conveyed outside the internet, thus challenging our very definition of poetry.  

Russian Poetry in Translation

Translation of Russian poetry is a very vibrant field. Although theoretical issues of translation remain topical, little has been done to recognise how theory and practice fertilise each other. Anglophone academia neglects translation practice; scholars do not receive enough credit for their translations; translation is underrated as an (impact-generating!) result of research. Some recent efforts, e.g. Cambridge University’s Conversations in Translation series and Bangor University’s AHRC-sponsored Poetry in Expanded Translation Network, indicate that change is slowly underway and this is an opportune moment to embark on more specific research that targets Russian-language poetry on the internet.

 

GLORIOUS advances knowledge about Russian internet poetry and promotes translation by

  • studying the online presence of poets who use the internet, and social media, in different ways. “Pop star poets” (e.g. Akh Astakhova) publish carefully staged content geared towards a mass audience, poets who are visible activists (e.g. Galina Rymbu) create lively debate on social media, while traditional lyric poets (e.g. Ksenia Zheludova) use the internet as an alternative to print publishing. The emphasis here is on audience curation.
  • analysing the role of online journals and other platforms exercising editorial control on the contemporary poetry scene. The emphasis of this research is on author recruitment: which authors are represented widely, do these authors have a large presence on social media, and how do platforms like Polutona or Vozdukh reflect and create trends?
  • examining how the semantic charge of a poem's online presentation – video, music, visuals – affects the process of translation, and of publication in translation.
  • collaborating with other translators, especially translators who are also scholars, to create new publications, e.g. contemporary-Russia features for translation journals, highlighting translation as an integral part of the academe’s contribution to cultural diversity and understanding. 

 

 

Publications and activities                                                                                                                                                            this section contains links to publications and video files you can watch. All videos have English subtitles unless indicated otherwise. 

The Scar We Know: Josephine von Zitzewitz reviews leading feminist poet Lida Yusupova's translated collection for Words without Borders.

Publishing Poetry on Social Media: Ksenia Zheludova in conversation with Josephine von Zitzewitz. In collaboration with Punctured Lines - Post-Soviet Literature in and outside the Former Soviet Union, editors Olga Zilberbourg and Yelena Furman.

Young Russophonia in London's Pushkin House: an evening of discussion and readings of new Russian-language literature in translation, curated by Josephine von Zitzewitz

Josephine von Zitzewitz's translator page for the Russian Free Verse project, editor and curator Yurii Orlitsky and Anna Orlitskaya.

the tumbling avalanche of patterns, turn around: four poems by Stanislava Mogileva, translated by Josephine von Zitzewitz, published in Circumference magazine. 

Young Russophonia: new Russian-language literature in English. A full issue of the US translation journal Words without Borders, co-edited by Hilah Kohen and Josephine von Zitzewitz. If you missed the launch, you can watch it here.

Three Observations, Untitled: poems by Ksenia Zheludova in English translation, translated by Josephine von Zitzewitz, published in Words without Borders magazine.

Galina Rymbu's "Moia Vagina": guest lecture by Josephine von Zitzewitz for the University of Trier's Lyrik in Transition project, on one of the most talked-about internet poems of 2020.

Translating Living Russian Poets: Experiences of Collaboration : Josephine von Zitzewitz introduces three poet-translator pairs. In collaboration with Pushkin House, London.

Young Russian Writers in Conversation I: Translator Fiona Bell interviews playwright Olga Ezhova for ALTA43 - the virtual convention of the American Literary Translators Association.

Young Russian Writers in Conversation II: Translator Annie Fisher interviews poet and fiction writer Ksenia Buksha for ALTA43 - the virtual convention of the American Literary Translators Association.

Young Russian Writers in Conversation III: Translator Josephine von Zitzewitz interviews poet Ksenia Zheludova for ALTA43 - the virtual convention of the American Literary Translators Association.

Russian Poetry on Social Media: Poet Ksenia Zheludova tells Josephine von Zitzewitz about direct interaction with her audience and the significance of current events for contemporary poetry (in Russian without subtitles).