Gennady Katsov: Ekphrastic Poems Translated By Alex Cigale



A long-time Russian print and online (Print Organ, Metro,, radio (WMNB) and television (RTN) journalist, observer of both popular and high culture, documentarian of the Russian émigré community in America, with his book-length project of ekphrastic poems Slovosphera, Gennady Katsov returned to his roots in poetry after a long absence. Born in 1956 in Yevpatoria (Crimea,) Katsov was one of the organizers of the legendary, unsanctioned, perestroika-era Moscow “Poetry Club” (1986). He immigrated to America in 1989. Katsov’s more recent books, Between Floor and Ceiling and 365 Days Around the Sun, were long-listed for the Russia Prize established by the Boris Yeltsin Fund to recognize the contributions to literature of the Russian diaspora.



Alex Cigale’s poems and translations have appeared in Colorado, Green Mountains, and The Literary Reviews, and in Literary Imagination, Modern Poetry in Translation, New England Review, PEN America, Two Lines, and World Literature Today. From 2011 until 2013 he was Assistant Professor at the American University of Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. He is a 2015 NEA Translation Fellow for his work on the St. Petersburg “philological school” poet Mikhail Eremin. His other translations of Gennady Katsov’s poems have appeared in Cimarron Review, Painters and Poets, Verse Junkies, and Blue Lyra Review Anthology 2, and were presented in readings at the New York Public Library-42nd St. and Columbia University’s Harriman Center.


В.Комар, А.Меламид, «Однажды в детстве я видел Сталина» (1981-1982)

Я в детстве видел Сталина
В окне его авто:
Его черты предстали на
Секунд, наверно, сто.

Он в темноте растаивал,
Пока я наблюдал,
Как совы плыли стаями
За ним куда-то вдаль.

И в наступавшей полночи,
И годы погодя,
Портрет Луны был полностью
Подобием Вождя.

Нью-Йорк, 07.14.2012

Komar and Melamid,
“Once in childhood I glimpsed Stalin” (1981-1982)

In childhood I once glimpsed Stalin
Through the window of his limo,
His features frozen for a minute
Lasting a hundred seconds or so.

In its recesses he was melting,
While I observed how the owls,
Drifting above the cortege in flocks,
Flew after him into the distance.

With the impending stroke of midnight,
And with the many years to come,
The portrait of the moon merged
With the likeness of the Master.

New York, 07.14.2012


Winslow Homer.Summer Night (1890)

Уинслоу Хомер, «Летняя ночь» (1890)

Будто ночь ворожит на краю океанского берега:
Где до лунной дорожки с две дюжины футов осталось,
Где почти уже нет, словно не было вовсе, Америки –
Просто так, без мелодии, меланхолично плясалось.

Без привычного ритма на три обязательных четверти,
На сыром небосводе, закатанном темным асфальтом,
Та же пара кружила, и не отражаясь, все четверо
В тишине танцевали, без видимых смысла и фальши.

И не важно, что в тигле июльском играет и пенится
Раскаленный свинец для всех будущих в небе созвездий,
Ибо сверху, едва уловимо в ночи, песнопение
Снизошло, чтоб душе было чем обмануться и грезить.

Нью-Йорк, 04.28.2012

Winslow Homer, “Summer Night” (1890)

As though night was casting spells on the oceanic shore;
Where the path to the moon is only two dozen steps away.
Where very little of America remains, as though it never was,
We danced out of melancholy, to no audible melody.

Without the usual rhythm in the requisite three-quarter time,
On the damp horizon paved over with thick dark asphalt,
The same swooning pair, all four, without being reflected,
in silence danced, for no apparent purpose but sincerity.

No matter that the molten lead of July’s cauldron
Foams and bubbles with the uncreated constellations,
And from above, barely audible in the night sky, a hymn
Descends, providing the soul fodder for its figments.

New York, 04.28.2012


.Эдвард Хоппер, «Полуночники» (1942)

От вторника в начале марта
И до среды в конце апреля –
На каждого, примерно, кварта
Непросыхающего эля.

Заняв у бара место скорби
(Неон – напиток демиургов),
Ты ничего не должен orbi,
И никому не нужен urbi.

Пить в одиночестве – свобода
Без братства с равенством! Не выйдет
Зайти сюда извне – нет входа,
А кто вошел, уже не выйдет.

Нью-Йорк, 05.01.2012

Edward Hopper, “Nighthawks” (1942)

From the Tuesday in early March
Through Wednesday end of April,
For each, approximately a quart
Of a bottomless pitcher of ale.

Taking your cue at the bar of sorrows
(Neon being the nectar of demiurges,)
You owe not a thing to the town nor is
Anything needed of you by the world.

Drink plus loneliness – that’s freedom!
Accept no compromise. It will not do
To enter here from outside – no door.
And he who does get in will never leave.

New York, 05.01.2012