I’ve always been fascinated by legends of drowned cities, notably Kitezh, so I particularly enjoyed the poem by that name in a group newly published in Cardinal Points (Стороны света) by Irina Mashinski (whom I can’t help but think of as Irina Mashinskaya, since that’s her name in Russian: Ирина Машинская). I’ll quote the last few stanzas here; for the rest, go to the “group” link above and scroll down:

We haven’t started it but we’ve got to see
how mermaids swim by rusty snapped off doors
of an express stuck in abyssal mud —
and sit on cliffs of rhymes and sing.

As for the meter — as for the pure honey
  of rhythm,
     for iamb of littoral, for anapest of depths,
lighthouses of metaphors, drill towers above shelf waters —
       we know that tar at night does look mysterious.

From space that glides so low,
    oil spills look like an unknown

Totally unrelated: Owen Hatherley has a nice report on early Soviet cinema at the Grauniad.


  1. Owen Hatherley mostly writes about architecture, often in the Guardian and the New Statesman. He’s a good critic most of the time, if a bit too enthusiastic about Brutalism for my taste, but he once wrote in a Guardian comment:

    [The early Finnish modernist architect Alvar] Aalto is an utter, utter bore; architecture that constantly reminds you how humane it’s being. Zzzz.

    He was obviously confusing Aalto with Ralph Erskine, a second-level British architect who practised post-war in Sweden, and after that truly shocking incident – if you don’t know Aalto but want the effect, substitute ‘Joyce’, ‘Kingsley Amis’ and ‘writing’ for ‘Aalto’, ‘Erskine’ and ‘architecture’ – I felt that I wouldn’t quite be able to rely on Owen Hatherley’s judgment ever again even though I still look forward to reading him.

  2. From that selection – all the pieces are very good – I loved best the frozen branch beating in the window, so evocative.

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