Uilleam Blacker at the LARB:
Despite his stature as a giant of Soviet Ukrainian literature, Bazhan remains all but unknown outside Ukraine. His work is formally sophisticated, his language rich, his subject matter multilayered. Translating him is, thus, no mean feat. But on top of that, for much of the 20th century, Bazhan’s pre-Party existence, and thus much of his best work, was unknown or inaccessible to potential translators. It is fitting, then, that the editors of this new volume of Bazhan’s work, Oksana Rosenblum, Lev Fridman, and Anzhelika Khyzhnia, have turned to the poet’s earlier poetry. The volume takes us through selections from Bazhan’s first three books, published in the giddy experimental atmosphere of the 1920s, before tackling some longer and more formally, thematically, and politically complex works from the early 1930s. Indeed, one of the most fascinating aspects of this book is the way it reveals the tension between Bazhan’s mercurial, untrammeled poetic genius and the creeping ideological strictures of Stalinism.