I have had the pleasure of reading Kirill Medvedev’s It’s No Good — a collection of free verse poetry and essays from what some term the Russian Bukowski.
Medevedev’s poetry does have something of Bukowski about it, the muckiness, the poverty, the lines that seem like he’s looked up from the paper to swear at someone in the bar or cafe — but continued jotting that interruption down. However, while they share this rambling freedom to simply put-it-down, there’s the obvious gap left by Bukowski’s lack of politics in his poetry. While of course we read politics into Bukowski’s poetry through his underclass moment, he doesn’t every really express himself as a part of a movement that should ever hold sway on the world. Bukowski is disconnected, revelling in his bottom-feeder status along with his other mud-slurpers. Medvedev’s writing is one that has a view of society as a whole, not as something he is external to.
Medvedev’s poetry is the kind that you simply let wash over you — it is consumable in the same you drink water from the tap. There is little difficult about it, it is what it is — but it is accumulatively good. His power in it is in his constant doubling back on himself, this idea that there’s no truth in a statement that can be left unconnected and uncommented on. These wandering thoughts trip and waltz back on themselves can feel irrelevant at first, but it is in these small moments of circling the idea of fish pate in the supermarket that you realise the demand that everything is connected and organised — if only by the effect of observing them.
Like all writing of this kind, the joy comes in those changes of texture — odd moments of lyrical flourishing — most of which come in his later poems.
This collection also contains one of the most interesting things an artist or writer can do — which is give up copyright.
As you can see, it’s not without clauses. Interestingly, for someone whose work is so much about the connection between everything (whether economic, spiritual, political) Kirill Medvedev denies the right of publishers to use his work in anthologies. This idea that his work should only be presented beside itself is interesting — but makes sense considering the how the collection reflects on the reforms of the 90’s in Russia which, like most of the world at the time, saw a retreat from power for intellectuals and some politicians — giving over the space of their influence to capital. The idea that someone could subvert your intention through context or association is one that is important, even while giving the rights of your work away.
A great deal of Medvedev’s writing was first published on LiveJournal — here’s a podcast from Reply All explaining the difficult existence and resistance of LiveJournal in Russia.
The above was part of the lovely book post that came from Fitzcarraldo (with a bonus from Paul Hawkins in the form of a Dostoyevsky Wannabe anthology)
I have been getting a lot of nice things in the post, and if you know someone who would like to contribute to the postman’s burden, please put them in touch and I’ll do my best to read everything.
Lydia Davis, one of our favourite short story/flash writers, has apparently blurbed a book about cows.
This makes absolute sense considering her masterpiece about cows in Can’t and Won’t of which you can have a snip below:
Kaveh has another thing out, this time in The Shallow Ends.
This Anne Carson story from Brick Mag’s 100th issue is really something — I tweeted some snippets. There may be more to come because I feel it is a really good example of the style that Carson gifts us in her short talks and performances, but on the page.
In looking for something background-noodley, I found these background noodles from 1975 by Suzanne Ciani.
Thanks for reading Etch To Their Own. It was written by @CJEggett on an ergonomic keyboard, but maybe he could write it one something else next time? He has a website. This newsletter has a website too. This is the new street fighter movie? You can catch it by reading. John Wick does and action, he does another, he does another, after a line break — and it is described abstractly, John Wick says something to an interestingly described antagonist, line break, John Wick growls: “is this poetry?”. If you have written something, and would like me to read it, please get in touch. So I’ve only just started listening to this as I write these important closing remarks, and it is possible this should have been my song/album of the week. There’s these novels right, and some of them you don’t like.