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Dissolution of the Soviet Union – Samizdat Poetry

Merzavets! [Scoundrel!]. At head of title: Golos Arbata poet Bogdanovich, Violetta Anatol’evna. Sbornik stikhov no. 43. Posviashchaetsia M.S. Gorbachevu i R.M. Gorbachevoi [The voice of Arbat, poet Bogdanovich, V.A. Collection of poetry no. 43. Dedicated to M.S. Gorbachev and R.M.Gorbacheva]. Second, expanded endition.

Moscow: self-published, 1991. Octavo (21 × 15 cm). Original illustrated wrappers; 37 pp. Illustrations. Very good.

A street poet and outsider artist, Violetta Bogdanovich lived through the trauma of Perestroika and the collapse of the Soviet Union, expressing it with scandalous and dumbfounded language in this collection. Dated November 1991, two months after the Soviet Union was dissolved by the Congress of People’s Deputies, this vehemently anti-Gorbachev and anti-elite collection captures the turmoil of this transitional period. In poems spanning 1985-1991, the author speaks about the Soviet people as puppets of the political elite, while addressing the last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and his wife Raisa Gorbacheva as a royal couple, a title antithetical to the communist ideals. The experience of economic inequality of the transitional period, punctuated by massive inflation is also captured in a poem cataloging prices at a foreign currency store for the new elites and foreign tourists, which thrived in this period in Moscow. As further commentary on the growing social inequality, the rear wrapper lists two prices for the volume: “5 ru for the poor, 10 ru for the wealthy.” 

In her autobiographical novella “Letun” (Flyer), she writes: “Bogdanovich Violetta Anatolyevna was dismissed from Glavmospromstroimaterialy, after which she held thirty-three different jobs, did not lose heart, and driven by the horrors of her fate even began to write POETRY.” On the front and rear wrappers Bogdanovich calls herself the “Poet of the Red Square” and “Poet of Arbat” and indicates her belonging to the “Union of Stalinists.” A vivid example of the poetry of the “urban madman”, Bogdanovich’s enraged “outsider” voice is closer to the experiences of the Soviet laypeople than the work of more established writers of the period such as Dmitry Prigov and Yevgeny Yevtushenko. Experiences of laypeople during the Soviet collapse were most recently documented by Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich in “Second Hand Time”, with this collection of poems capturing the same tone and concerns.

As of November 2021 KVK, OCLC show only one copy in North America. .

Book ID: 51544

Price: $450.00