The 2019-2020 Leslie Scalapino Lecture in Innovative Poetics - Eugene Ostashevsky: Translingualism: A Poetics between Cultures, Nations, and Languages

Lecture | March 17 | 7 p.m. | Wheeler Hall, Maude Fife Room 315 Wheeler Hall

 Department of English

The Department of English at the University of California, Berkeley is pleased to present The 2019-2020 Leslie Scalapino Lecture in Innovative Poetics

Keynote Speaker: Eugene Ostashevsky
Lecture Title: "Translingualism: A Poetics between Cultures, Nations, and Languages"

On Eugene Ostashevsky:

Eugene Ostashevsky is a Russian-American poet and translator based in Berlin and New York. He is the author of three full-length poetry collections in English: Iterature (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2005), The Life and Opinions of DJ Spinoza (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2008), and The Pirate Who Does Not Know the Value of Pi (New York Review of Books, 2017).

Writing in LARB, Boris Dralyuk calls The Pirate a “raucous modern-day Anatomy of Melancholy, a seriocomic linguistic performance the likes of which we rarely see, in any tongue. It is a beautiful song, broadcast by an outcast whose language is all his own.” The Italian newspaper Il Manifesto speaks of The Pirate’s“poetics of immigration.” The German edition of the book, translated by Uljana Wolf and Monika Rinck, was awarded the International Poetry Prize from the City of Münster, with the jury praising the original’s “polyphonic and polyglot verbal acrobatics” and linguistic multiplicity. For the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Ostashevsky’s work “argues that one must have distance from language, and also an awareness that no language is only ‘mine’; it is rather many languages of different times and speakers that collide or coalesce under the name ‘English.’ Every language is, in a sense, a parrot language.” For another German reviewer, The Pirate “deconstructs the strategies of linguistic exclusion concealed by such concepts as “indigenous,” “refugee,” and “native language.” A short opera based on The Pirateby the Italian composer Lucia Ronchetti has recently premiered at the Venice Biennale.

As translator and scholar, Ostashevsky focuses mainly on Russian avant-garde and underground literature. His translation, with Matvei Yankelevich, of Alexander Vvedensky’s An Invitation for Me to Think (New York Review of Books, 2013) won the 2014 National Translation Award from the American Literary Translators Association. He was also the editor and co-translator of OBERIU: An Anthology of Russian Absurdism(Northwestern, 2006), as well as of a number of books of contemporary Russian poetry, including Arkadii Dragomoshchenko’s Endarkenment (Wesleyan, 2014). He is currently working on puns in Russian Futurist and European avant-garde poetry and painting circa 1913, and preparing an English-language edition of Vasily Kamensky’s Tango with Cows, the first book of Futurist visual poetry.

Ostashevsky is a visiting professor and writer-in-residence at Humboldt University and Free University in Berlin, where he leads seminars on translingual literature. He is also Clinical Professor at the Liberal Studies program at New York University.

A reception in Wheeler Hall Room 330 will follow the reading.
This event is free and open to the public.

Note also:

Eugene Ostashevsky will be reading at Moe’s Books on Monday, March 16, on a double bill with Brandon Brown. The reading is at 7 pm; Moe’s is located at 2476 Telegraph Avenue. This event, too, is free and open to the public.