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galina rymbu

A Conversation with Galina Rymbu

A Conversation with Galina Rymbu

Jonathan Platt: How can the language of poetry work with this reality? Can one communicate to oppressed, lumpenized workers through complicated poems?

Galina Rymbu: Poetry must work for a utopian exclusion of the languages of violence, but it can only do this with the help of a certain violence of its own, fiercely struggling with those languages for a future of peace. You can’t simply ignore them and write as if they don’t exist. There’s also an illusory kind of thinking here that we have to avoid. It can seem like the oppressed have a simple language, that we should employ a series of reductions to work with this language in order to be comprehensible as poets and artists. But there is no such thing as a simple language, just as there are no simple emotions. Here everything is even more complex—a real rat’s nest of complexity made up of the languages of violence, ideological pressures, propaganda, biopolitical manipulations, survivals of the past, fantasies, hopes, and even certain seeds of “emancipation” . . .

Eugene Ostashevsky Introduces Three Poems by Galina Rymbu

Eugene Ostashevsky Introduces Three Poems by Galina Rymbu

I first came across the young Russian poet Galina Rymbu shortly after she posted a poem on LiveJournal the day that Russian troops started operating in Crimea, and several days after the victory of the Maidan Revolution in Kyiv and the tawdry close of the Sochi Olympics. Russian media fanned the flames of patriotic hysteria and the Kremlin was clearly going to exploit Maidan to crack down on domestic dissent. It felt strange that a work of this artistic sophistication and power could be composed and posted on the Web simultaneously with the events it responded to. Its viewpoint was that of the minuscule and very young Russian Left—roughly the same political alignment as those of the poet-activist Kirill Medvedev and of Pussy Riot, to cite figures known to some Western readers. But the poetry was different. It was Big Poetry, very much grounded in tradition but also propelling it forward, into the terra incognita of the now. It’s been a while I read a poem that felt so real . . .