I cannot imagine a better and more appropriate opening night to the Slovo Russian Literature Festival. Organised by the Academia Rossica, this festival is all about celebrating the fantastic talent that Russian writers have displayed throughout history.
So in this context, Vera Polozkova completely embodies that. Goodness what a talented young woman she is! In her poems, Vera describes the world with such intensity, such humour and bitter sweetness, that even those new to her work (like me) instantly fall for it.
This Moscow born 27 year old has already achieved a sort of notoriety in her homeland, first though her popular blog “Vero4ka” (read Verochka) and more recently though the recognition that she is receiving by means of literature awards. So much so, that this young poet is now reading her material not just to Russian audiences back home, but throughout Europe, hence Vera’s appearance in London this week.
Vera’s work, currently published only in Russian (I doubt this will remain the case for long, judging by the way her work is being received), is an incredible mix of confidence and fragility. It is filled with youthful optimism and dispersed with the pains of growing up. At moments she voices hope, love, then disappointment. In her poems there are elements of understanding beyond her age, showing a journey of coming to terms with life. At times, with humour, Vera mocks it all.
While her work could be criticised for having little to no structure, Vera’s poetry shows a level of vulnerability rarely exposed by anybody. Which, I believe makes her a truly genius voice for, and of, our generation.
Its rare to find a poetry performance so well delivered- not one monotonous sentence in the entire evening! Vera delivered her words like an actor; engaging and with true feeling, at times quietly laughing and at others, her voice breaking from emotion.
With the high expectations that this evening has set, I look forward to what other events the Slovo Russian Literature Festival has in store. Non Russian speakers need not be deterred, many of the events have an English translation or are in English, so why not step into this new literary world?
In the meantime, if you feel hard done by, because you are not lucky enough to be a fluent Russian speaker, you can still enjoy the pleasing sounds and rhymes of Vera’s poetry below… Naturally, Russian speakers will have the advantage of knowing what’s it’s all about!