"It's No Good" by Kirill Medvedev

"It's No Good" by Kirill Medvedev (Keri Wiginton, Chicago Tribune / April 15, 2013)

When Keith Gessen, the co-editor of n+1, asked if he could send me his translation of a Russian author I'd never heard of, I had no idea what I was getting into. "It's No Good" — a selection of the post-Soviet writer Kirill Medvedev's poems, essays, manifestos, LiveJournal posts, obituaries, "actions," Facebook posts and kitchen sinks — buzzes with ambition, possibility, unpasteurized talent. It is, above all, an angry book, a reminder that western poetry begins with a call for the muse to sing of rage.

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Medvedev, born in 1975, published his first book of poems, "Everything Is Bad" (or "It's No Good," as Gessen has it, heading off a Moby echo), in 2000, and followed it with "Incursion" in 2002. The poems in these collections read as if — oh, I hate constructions like "If Vladimir Mayakovsky and Frank O'Hara had a baby and named it Charles Bukowski," but for Medvedev, who has translated Bukowski, I'll make an exception:

I decided to ask them

the time

one of them said

"it's over there"

and nodded in the direction of a street clock

not far from where we were standing

I said

"what does it say—I can't see it"

and he told me

"I can't see it either"

"do you see it?"

I asked the other one

and he told me

"no I don't see it either"

why am I telling

this story