History of Literature

Милена Максакова

Сегодня рос-армия 
Мой универ 
Там я учила 
Историю русской литературы 

Что вы видите 
Когда говорят 
О русской литературе? 
Слезинку ребёнка? 
Царя Ирода? 
Летящую Маргариту? 
Перчатку с левой руки? 

Русская литература 
Закрываю глаза 
Translated by Galina Itskovich

Today, Russian aviation
Bombed to ruins
My Uni
There, I studied
History of Russian literature
Of this scary
Cruel thing

What do you see 
When one mentions
Russian literature?
A tear of one child?
Herod the Great?
Margarita’s flight?
The glove for the left hand?

The Russian literature
Closing eyes
I see
Burned to ashes 

Milena Maksakova, trans. Galina Itskovich

3 Questions for Milena

What was your process for creating this work?

This is my most painful text. Once upon a time, one goes to bed, and in the morning, old friends call to deliver the news that your Uni is bombed and ruined. Half a life is bombed. It isn't known whether the remaining part of the life is still capable of survival. The only remaining thing is to write about it. This is the history of this poem.

What is the significance of the form/genre you chose?

 I used to avoid such direct messages. This work has a very different poetic fabric. I'm sure that we all won't be able to write the way we did it before. We start a new history of a very different literature.

What is the significance of the work to you?

This poem changed me. Also, when I took part in the live reading in the Wiesbaden Cathedral, during the anti-war action, there was a lady in the audience, a direct descendant of the greatest Russian poet, Pushkin. I needed her to listen to my version of the history of the Russian literature. And she heard me.

Milena (Alyona) Maksakova was born in Kharkiv, Ukraine. She graduated with the degree in Language Arts, specializing in History of Russian Literature. Her poetry (in Russian) was awarded prizes in Kyiv and Kharkiv. It was published in Ukraine, United Kingdom, Belgium, Greece. She authored one book of poetry, "A Small Diary." She is currently involved in international anti-war literary projects.

Galina Itskovich graduated from the Hunter College School of Social Work. She practices psychotherapy, teaches and writes poetry and prose in two languages. Her work in English appeared in Poetica, Asian Signature, Unlikely Stories, Cardinal Points, Former People, Harpy Hybrid Review, The Ekphrastic Review, The Write Launch, in almanacs Global Insides & Contemporary Jewish Writing, and elsewhere. She also authored one book of poems (in Russian). Galina Itskovich lives in New York City.

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