Tuesday, April 17, 2018


Mayakovsky c. l915
Samizdat was the name given to the forbidden work produced by the Russian poets during the Stalinist era. Poetry never has a greater currency than when it's hard to come by. In Plato’s Republic where poetry would have been banned poets would have been barons. It’s axiomatic that people want what they can’t have and there's a mystique about the long suffering poet or writer in his garret who is either totally misunderstood, say like Kafka, or whose work has become the butt of censorship like Akhmatova or Pasternak. Yevtushenko was the darling of the Communist Party, but he was a little like Billy Collins, who gets his cake and eats it too. In the era of Perestroika which started with Gorbachev repression loosened up and poetry stocks, with the exception of Pussy Riot, ended up at the low point they occupy today. To be honest there was a period following the Revolution where art and poetry thrived, the era of Mayakovsky and Constructivism, but that was a singularity. Poetry is a little like sex. Victorian England was on the surface an era or repression, but if you read Steven Marcus’s The Other Victorians, you find that sex thrived. It's what happens in a situation of laissez-faire economics where the market receives little if any regulation? Freedom can become as daunting a prospect for homo economicus as it is for homo sapiens in general.

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