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Thursday, March 13, 2008

1920s Russian Modernism

Partly in reaction to how terrible my mobile phone photography is, and partly too in reaction to the depressingly subatomic nature of the debate currently raging around the Poets of the Century or whatever they’re called being serialized in the papers this week (Bishop versus Sassoon anyone?!), I thought I might pay belated homage to the marvellous Breaking the Rules: The Printed Face of the European Avant Garde exhibition still on at the British Library. When asked if he was a postmodernist, Roy Fisher once answered that he was in fact a ‘1920s Russian modernist’, and these images too, coming on top of my reading of Kharms, remind me how much I too look on 1920s Russian modernism as a glorious lost poetic utopia. I find it depressing how many poets (Irish poets for instance) who latch onto twentieth-century Russian poetry trot out their Mandelstam and Akhmatova (great poets though they are) but never mention Khlebnikov, Khodasevich, Blok… For shame. A plague of Daniil Kharms’ projectile snot on one and all of us until we mend our ways. But first, some pretty pictures.

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