Maxim Amelin is among the last generation of Russian poets to grow up in the Soviet Union, or as the poet Aleksei Tsvetkov wrote in Poetry: “those in the thirty- to forty-year-old range … the children of perestroika — or one should say the orphans, since their alleged mother went missing long ago” (February 2008). His inclusion among the so-called tridtsatiletnye (“The Thirty-year-Olds”) is more a genealogical integer, however, than an aesthetic grouping. As a loving collector of 18th-century neologisms (coined by his models, the Russian Classicists) and a devoted student of Revolutionary word-smithing (a la Mayakovsky), Amelin keeps his poetry in suspension through the tension of opposites.
Hailing from the provincial center of Kursk, he went on to lead the Saint Petersburg publishing house Symposium for ten years, then settled in Moscow, where he is editor-in-chief at OGI. His work has been previously translated into Hungarian, Vietnamese, Croatian, Georgian, Italian, Chinese, Latvian, German, Polish, Portuguese, and French, and he is an installation at literary festivals and book fairs across Eurasia. Americans have also started taking note: he was part of a delegation of Russian writers to the University of Iowa International Writing Program in summer 2009, and in 2013 he was part of the “Read Russia” delegation to Book Expo America in New York.
This translation of “The Scribe’s Confession” is from our full-length manuscript of Amelin’s work, The Joyous Science: Selected Poems of Maxim Amelin. For the first English-language interview with Amelin, see our 2014 conversation with the poet in Jacket2.about the author