Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Beekeeper

My poem "The Beekeeper" is up at qarrtsiluni.

"Tambourine," which is kind of a companion to "The Beekeeper," is still on-line after having been published in Literary Imagination earlier this year.

Both of these poems are about Osip Mandelstam, and both of them owe their existence to Ralph Dutli's absolutely superb German biography of Mandelstam, Meine Zeit, mein Tier, which, sadly, is only available in German and Russian.

If you are a publisher, or a translator from German and Russian into English, do the English-speaking world a favor and turn this wonderful book into an English book!


swiss said...

nicely played!
of the two i think i prefer tambourine
and i'm impressed by the number of journals you get to read....

Andrew Shields said...

Thanks, Swiss, glad you enjoyed the poems.

Beth said...

I enjoyed both poems, Andrew. You captured both the melancholy and lyricism I feel when thinking about Mandelstam. Now I'm dying to read the biography, and very sad to see it isn't yet available in one of my languages. How does it compare with the two books written by Mandelstam's wife? Is there a lot more biographical detail in it?

-Beth Adams (I'm one of the managing editors at qarrtsiluni)

Andrew Shields said...

Beth, I have not read Mandelstam's wife's books, so I can't say whether Dutli is more detailed, but he did do incredible research on what happened to Mandelstam after he was deported, work that apparently nobody had done as carefully before.

Another moment I tried to write a poem about but failed was this: early thirties, Mandelstam is in Leningrad, though he is banned from being there. He's standing on a street corner, talking to Akhmatova, and another friend tells him that his (Mandelstam's) father is living in an unheated room. Mandelstam takes off his sweater (it is winter) to have the sweater be given to his father.

Beth said...

And I tried once to write a poem about a scene described in his wife's memoir: Mandelstam, his wife, and Akhmatova are in his (I think) apartment the night the secret police come for him. There is one hard boiled egg. Akhmatova hands him the egg, he salts it, and sits and eats it, as if he had a full evening and life ahead of him.