“Indifference to his memory and to his work is a crime.” – Joseph Stalin, 1935
I started reading Night Wraps The Sky: Writings by and about Mayakovsky. Vladimir Maykovsky could be called the bad boy of the Russain literary scene. He was a founder of the Russian Futurist movement whose objective was to promote “art” inspired by action of the modern machine and the urban pace of life. Mayakovksy believed in new forms – his words moved about the page without formal punctuation. He incorporated slang, which many attribute to why his poems are so hard to translate into English. This book brings those translations to life while highlighting this bright star’s rather short life – dead at age 36, gunshot to the heart. Even that remains a controversy – some say suicide, others say government.
Maykovsky has my number – there has yet to be a rebel yell that does not attract me. One look at the photo above, and we know it was not just Maykovsky’s poetic genius that brought him a following – charisma is Everything. If that is not enough, Mayakovsky was a tortured soul in some respects – his love was for one woman, the wife of his friend/publisher, his muse until death. After death, he remained her project, and that is why Stalin announced that the poet’s work was to be taught and appreciated – no question.
As I know very little about the Bolshevik regime, Stalin, or Lenin, I thought it interesting to couple this read with another, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. A fictional account of life in a Stalin work camp written by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. As we know, fiction oft is more truth than story. Granted, Maykovsky was dead by the time this story takes place, however, I think it may lend a useful perspective of what exactly happen after the Revolution.
As for Anne Carson ~ finished The Beauty of the Husband – it left me a bit out of breath. I’ve never married, but I could have written these lines, written by the wife:
Well life has some risks. Love is one. Terrible risks.
Ray would have said
Fate’s my bait and bait’s my fate.
On a June evening.
Here’s my advice,
Hold beauty. (141)
Carson reminds us, as Keats reminded her, “beauty is truth” and that, dear reader, is why i hold beauty so dear…it eludes me still, a mysterious vision that has not broken beyond the shape of these letters; words. a tango is a dance that demands two – Carson invites us to dance – 29 tangos will leave you spent, but not asking for your time back ~