Translator's Note

Philip Metres

Part of the tradition of poets holding fast to the work of the spirit while the powerful continue to steal the future, Psurtsev’s poetry situates itself at the nexus between the elemental and the eternal, the earthly with the human dream. Characteristic of Psurtsev’s poetry is the employment of archaic and Biblical diction and Russian folklore, often situating scenes of ordinary life as part of a continuous and perhaps timeless past. "The Well Bucket" is one of his earlier poems that actively eschewed rhyme as a protest against the mechanistic expectations of rhyme in Russian poetry. Translating Psurtsev has meant grappling with how his poetry is read and feels in Russian—situating itself both inside the tradition and yet resisting its lulling normativity.

Working with lineation, stanza, and shape, as well as finding ways of combining his blend of high poetic language, archaisms, and conversational speech, I have tried to bring his poetry’s fascinating freshness, his shimmering simplicity, into American English. Or, to put it another way, my goal, in conversation with Dima, is to aim in English for that impossible possibility, where, in Psurtsev’s own words, “all words became flesh.”

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