Ainsley Morse and Bela Shayevich

This one features in the foreground the head of a nice lady fanning herself with a piece of paper and one or two ill-fated attempts to overcome this visual obstacle (I stubbornly refuse to do anything as conspicuous as to stand up or position myself nearer to the front, believing that documentation should make as little of a spectacle as possible).

On September 9th, Ainsley Morse and Bela Shayevich read at Mostly Books, rounding out a reading series hosted by the inimitable Brandon Holmquest (also featuring Alina Pleskova and Jaclyn Sadicario, editors of Bedfellows).

Here we receive excerpts from Morse and Shayevich’s recent collection I LIVE I SEE—translations of the poet Vsevolod Nekrasov, who lived and wrote during the Soviet era in Russia. The poet died in 2009—this in fact is his debut to the English language, presented in such style we must imagine he would be honored.

Morse and Shayevich have a chemistry and courage all poets could learn from—this is no mere speech of literal translation. This is translation beyond translation, to the realm of performance, where poems receive faces, attitudes, tones illustrating the form of print, retrieving, I suspect, by an intimate knowledge, some note of what is lost from one language to another.

I had the pleasure of meeting them after, buying a copy of their book, which they signed, to my eternal glee:
"Just Phil!
A.M.
B.S.
Not Just
Phil*


*Not injust”

They are lovely people who have tackled that most difficult task of translating—to be both poet and accomplished scholar of a second language, creation within the constraint of another person, refracting culture in a balance between sense and shape.

The book, which is well-edited with plentiful short notes illuminating alternative meanings or significances, is available now from Ugly Duckling.

-P.M.