I first learned of Kirill Medvedev in Fall 2006, when someone handed me a copy of the literary magazine Kriticheskaya Massa (“Critical Mass,” now defunct), featuring a symposium about the release of Medvedev’s book by the Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie (NLO) publishing house. The book’s release required a symposium because Medvedev had renounced all copyright to his works, and NLO had nonetheless gone ahead and published the book without asking his permission. They called it Texts Published Without the Permission of the Author. One essay defended the publication; another, “The Surrender and Death of a Post-Soviet Intellectual”—by the poet, editor, and impresario Dmitry Kuzmin—attacked the author. There was also an essay by Medvedev himself, reprinted (again without permission) from his website. The day after reading all this I found the book in question at the annual Moscow Book Fair. I read it on the subway ride home. It was a mixture of poems and essays and descriptions of Medvedev’s (often one-man) political actions. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. After failing to find another copy of the book at several stores, I finally located three at Falanster, off Tverskaya, and bought them all.New Emotion: On Kirill Medvedev
All of which is a very roundabout way of trying to explain why It’s No Good, the first major English-language publication of the writing of Kirill Medvedev, is so necessary, and so timely. Medvedev is a Moscow-based poet in his late 30s, and the book, the latest entry in Ugly Duckling Presse’s redoubtable Eastern European Poets Series (and the first to be published jointly with N+1), assembles English translations of his most important “poems/essays/actions” from over the last fifteen years. This was a period of radicalization for Medvedev, and the work amounts to a guerilla attack on the stagnation of Russian cultural life in the new millennium. By itself, this would make It’s No Good an invaluable document. But for readers beyond the old Iron Curtain, there’s a further twist of the knife: as with the best science fiction, the outrageous world Medvedev brings so vividly to life starts to sound awfully like our own.Medvedev's livejournal, website.
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