Radical Poetics in Russia and Ukraine Today

A poetry reading and discussion about critical and aesthetic interventions in Russia's political scene


Fields of Knowledge
  • Aesthetics / Media
  • Memory

Organizing Institutions

Slought, Department of Russian and East European Studies at the University of Pennsylvania


Kevin Platt

Opens to public





4017 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Slought and the Department of Russian and East European Studies at the University of Pennsylvania are pleased to announce Radical Poetics in Russia and Ukraine Today, a poetry reading and discussion about critical and aesthetic interventions in Russia's present political scene. The event will take place on Tuesday, November 27, 2018 from 5-6:30pm at Slought, and will feature Pavel Arseniev (St. Petersburg, Russia), Dmitry Golynko (St. Petersburg, Russia), Galina Rymbu (Lviv, Ukraine), and Yanis Sinaiko (Lviv, Ukraine), and will be moderated by Anastasiya Osipova and Kevin M.F. Platt.

Russia is going through a lyric-poetry boom, and targets of political outrage are not lacking. But Russians generally don't view poetry as the go-to instrument for political expression these days. Despite a deep history of politically engaged writing in Russia, political poetry is often derided as neither good poetry nor effective politics. Or it is simply denounced as insincere—a damning accusation both for poetry and politics.

This program features the work of poets who have been dedicated to upending such critiques, to reengaging with the legacies of politically acute Russian experimental writing—from the avant-garde of Vladimir Mayakovsky to the late Soviet underground of Vsevolod Nekrasov and others—and to creating institutions and contexts that imbricate the poetic with the political in relation to Russia's present political realities. This is particularly evident in the work of Pavel Arseniev, who has brought his literary work directly into political life by injecting poetry into street protest, as he accomplished most spectacularly with his punning slogan "Vy nas dazhe ne predstavliaete," which means both "You don't even represent us" and "You can't even imagine us"). It became one of the most widely reproduced and disseminated battle cries of the mass-opposition demonstrations of 2011 and 2012.

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Pavel Arseniev is a Russian artist, poet and theoretician. He is also known for editing and galvanizing intellectual forces around the St. Petersburg-based journal of poetics and theory, Translit – an undertaking for which he received the Andrei Bely prize, Russia's most prestigious literary award – and for inventing the slogan that became a rallying cry of the 2012 anti-Putin protests.

Dmitry Golynko is a professor of film study at St. Petersburg University of Film and Television Studies and works as an independent scholar in the field of contemporary visual culture, biopolitics, accelerationism and object-oriented poetics. His books of poetry include Homo Scribens (1994), Директория (2001), Бетонные голубки (2003), and As It Turned Out (2008).

Galina Rymbu is a poetess, literary critic, curatrix, and philosopher from Lviv, Ukraine. She currently teaches at the St. Petersburg School of New Film. She is on the editorial board of the poetry series Novye stikhi (Poriadok slov publishing house). She has published five books of poetry and was the 2017 poet laureate of the Poetry Without Borders festival in Riga.

Yanis Sinaiko is a poet and translator based in Lviv, Ukraine. He studied philosophy at Franko National University. He is one of the organizers of the performance Angel-Constructor, a multimedia work including poetry, electronic music and video-gaming space, and is the author of the visual-poetic book of the same name (2017).

Anastasiya Osipova is a scholar, writer, and translator. She is an editor of Cicada Press, a NYC-based imprint that pursues contemporary politically engaged poetic texts. She holds a Ph.D. from the Department of Comparative Literature at NYU and is currently teaching at Gallatin, the School of Individualized Study.

Kevin M. F. Platt is a professor in the humanities at the University of Pennsylvania. He writes on representations of Russian history, Russian history and memory, contemporary Russian poetry, and global Russian cultures. He also translates contemporary Russian poetry. He is the editor of the recently issued volume Global Russian Cultures (2018) and the chief translator of Orbita: The Project (2018).

Considering all of the above,
And the fact the writer
Resorted to using
Banned symbols,
Inciting hatred towards
the social group also known as "the regime,"
And, finally, has been spotted
At rallies of leftist radical groups,
We can conclude his
Pitiful aesthetic exercises
Do indeed contain extremist content,
And he can be convicted
Under Article 280
Of the Russian Federal Criminal Code,
"Public calls to
Extremist activities,
Committed with the use
Of mass media."

-- Pavel Arseniev, from "Forensic Examination," in Reported Speech, Cicada Press, 2018