Albena Lutzkanova-Vassileva's 'The Testimonies of Russian and American Postmodern Poetry'
from Charles Bernstein: The Testimonies of Russian and American Postmodern Poetry: Reference, Trauma, and History (Bloomsbury, 2014) is divided in half. The first part looks at 1970s/1980s Russian (Moscow) conceptual poetry and poetics, focussing on Dmitry Prigov and Lev Rubinstein (Rubinshtein) but also on the "meta-realists" Elena Schvarts and Alexi Parschikov (Arkadii Dragomoschenko is a key poet for this context, though not a main subject here). Artists Grisha Bruskin and Ilya Kabakov are also main subjects. The second part of the book makes an analogy between both Moscow conceptualism and St. Petersburg metarealist poetry and the 1970s/1980s poetry/poetics associated with L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E. Lutzkanova-Vassileva offers detailed readings of Bob Perelman, Bruce Andrews Steve McCaffery, David Melnick, Ron Silliman, as well as my work. Lutzkanova-Vassileva also traces the connection to the Russian futurists (Shklovsky, Khelbinikov, Kruchenykh). Her commentary is focussed on the ways the poems she addresses respond the emerging technological/digital environment of the time. While quite different in its readings, the work bears some resemblance to Jacob Edmond's cross-national approach inCommon Strangeness. Lutzkanova-Vassileva provides remarkably illuminating close readings of many poems, with an emphasis on the social and political meanings of invented poetic forms. This is a remarkable study both for its Russian/American comparative approach and for it's thoughtful reading of each poet and artist.