Riga poets embark on US tour

The Orbita poetry collective from Riga, Latvia will appear with readings in four cities on the East Coast of the USA from November 14-19. Sergey Timofeyev, a member of Orbita, commented on this rather exceptional event to Rus.lsm.lv.

 “We are going on tour to present the anthology Hit Parade, which was recently published in the USA," he said. According to Timofeyev, the volume includes original poems by four members of Orbita, along with part of the translation done by Kevin M. F.  Platt, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

The authors who translated Orbita's poems include figures like the famed American poet Charles Bernstein, said Timofeyev.

"Semyon Khanin and I have travelled once before to the USA several years ago—in order to appear in readings and also to take part in work on some of these same translations, by invitation of the University of Pennsylvania.

The book was published by the well-known publishing house Ugly Duckling Presse, which specializes in contemporary and experimental poetry and also has a series devoted to authors from Eastern Europe.

We have a tradition of naming collections of Orbita poetry published abroad with a line from one of the poems included in the volume in question.

Our German book is titled What Friends Are Silent About (from a text by Artur Punte); our Estonian book is Talk Estonian To Me, Little One (a line from a poem by Semyon Khanin);

and the American collection is Hit Parade (this is the title of a poem by Vladimir Svetlov).

An Italian collection of translations, now in preparation, will have the title Bravely Going Off Course (this is from one of my texts).

It will be interesting to arrive in the USA at such a key moment—for us, this is a very important country in many senses.

For myself, I could mention how the experience of reading the poets of the beat generation—Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso and others—as well as my personal acquaintance with various members of the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E school was very important for me when I was just beginning to write poetry.

Prior to the appearance of this book we have already been published in various American literary magazines, but to have our own collection in the USA with a good press is of course quite wonderful. We will be very happy to present it at appearances in New York, Philadelphia, Washington and Amherst.

We will be appearing together with some of our translators, but we will also present a version of our poetic performance the FM Slow Show

that has been specially compacted for long-distance travel.

Usually we employ 20-25 radio receivers in the performance, but here we will take along only four loudspeakers of the sort usually used by tour guides," he said.

The bilingual poetry anthology Hit Parade was published in late 2015.

Orbita will appear at:

—Amherst (Massachusetts): The Russian Cultural Center at Amherst College, November 14, 7:30pm

—New York: The Jordan Center of New York University, November 15, 4pm

—Philadelphia: The Penn Book Center Bookstore, November 17, 6pm

—Washington, D.C.: The Association for Slavic, East European, & Eurasian Studies Convention, Washington Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, November 18, 6:15pm

In addition to Kevin M. F. Platt, the poets will be joined in their readings by members of the translating team behind Hit Parade, including Polina Barskova, Charles Bernstein, Julia Bloch, Michael Wachtel, Maya Vinokour, Sarah Dowling, Eugene Ostashevsky, Bob Perelman, Karina Sotnik, Sasha Spektor, Anton Tenser, Natalia Fedorova, Daniil Cherkassky, and Matvei Yankelevich.

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