Accursed Poets: Dissident Poetry from Soviet Russia 1960-80 by Anatoly Kudryavitsky

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Accursed Poets: Dissident Poetry from Soviet Russia 1960-80 is an anthology of dissident poetry, featuring work by Gennady Aigi, Yuri Aikhenvald, Yuli Daniel, Vladimir Earle, Yuri Galanskov, Natalia Gorbanevskaya, Igor Kholin, Victor Krivulin, Evgeny Kropivnitsky, Vsevolod Nekrasov, Rea Nikonova, Victor Nekipelov, Grigory Podyapolsky, Genrikh Sapgir, Ian Satunovsky, Mikhail Sokovnin, Sergey Stratanovsky and Kari Unksova.

Following the 1965 show trial of writers Yuli Daniel and Andrei Sinyavsky, young Russian poets increasingly found themselves targeted by the Soviet authorities. Daniel spent five years in a labour camp, Natalya Gorbanevskaya, Yuri Galanskov and Yuri Aikhenvald were put in psychiatric hospitals, while Kari Unksova was killed in an accident involving a KGB surveillance car.

Unable to publish their work in official magazines, these poets had to write ‘for the desk.’ The result was a radical, self-published (‘samizdat’) poetic, looking back to the Russian avant-garde of the 1920s, and combining Dadaism, Surrealism, Futurism and Minimalism with a Dostoyevskian eye for everyday Russian life. Accursed Poets captures the frustration, suppressed ambitions and hidden energy of a generation of poets who lived outside or against society. They deserve to be remembered, especially now that there are more political prisoners in Russia than there were in the last years of the Soviet Union.